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Bipartisan bill will improve STEM education in rural areas, Lucas says

Ponca City Now - November 6, 2019 12:57 pm

WASHINGTON, D. C. — House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) along with Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN), and Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), introduced legislation today to enhance STEM education at rural schools.

Nearly half of all public schools are considered rural and more than nine million students in the United States —roughly 20 percent of all schoolchildren — attend rural schools. Rural schools face unique barriers to providing STEM education, including a shortage of science and math teachers, high teacher turnover, and difficulty accessing online and computer-based technology. H.R. 4979, the Rural STEM Education Act, gives teachers, students, and rural communities the tools they need to overcome these challenges.

“America needs a larger skilled STEM workforce to stay competitive, which is why STEM jobs are growing faster than any other sector and pay higher wages,” Lucas said. “I want rural students to have every opportunity to be competitive in this job market and contribute STEM skills both to their communities and to the national workforce. Giving rural students access to high-quality STEM education is one of my highest priorities. The Rural STEM Education Act gives teachers better tools to teach science and math, leverages local resources to engage students in key subjects, and addresses the lack of broadband access in rural communities. I’m grateful to my colleagues for helping me move this forward in a bipartisan way.”

Johnson said “I am pleased to join Lucas, Rep. McAdams, and Rep. Baird in introducing this important bill. We need to leverage all of our STEM talent, if we are to address society’s most pressing challenges. Students in rural communities have enormous potential to contribute to the nation’s STEM workforce, if given the opportunity.

“Unfortunately, rural communities have long struggled to provide high-quality STEM education because of a shortage of qualified STEM teachers, limited access to technology and infrastructure, and a lack of local industry partners,” she said.  “The Rural STEM Education Act will advance research and development to help close these gaps and ensure rural students have equitable access to high-paying STEM careers.”

Baird said “Rural areas represent one of the significant opportunities for STEM education to impact workforce development. By improving access to STEM opportunities in rural schools, H.R. 4979, the Rural STEM Education Act will ensure that communities in less populated areas are not overlooked, and that the intellectual power of our next generation continues to grow.”

McAdams said Students in rural areas must receive the math and science education they need to succeed in a global economy.

“This bill supports teachers serving rural communities and provides for research into the special challenges facing them to provide STEM education, including having high-speed internet and other technology,” McAdams said.

 

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