Will 2012 Be the Tipping Point for STEM Advocacy?

December 22, 2011

If you’re like me, you might remember what it felt like when you suddenly realized the practicality of owning a PC; or when you realized that carrying a cell phone was actually a pretty good idea; or more recently, that you aren’t as sentimental as you thought you’d be giving up paper magazines, newspapers and books for the ease and convenience of an iPad.

The moment in time when an idea goes from something culture thinks it might embrace one day, to something that is an imperative for today, is widely acknowledged as the tipping point.  It’s the point at which a good idea becomes a fact of modern life.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education reform needs that kind of tipping point.  Our global competitiveness rests on a technologically literate population and more workers in STEM fields.  There are a lot of people working to make meaningful change, and the reform wave is building. Real change will take place when attitudes and budgets at the State and local level “tip” and the wave will wash over the nation.  Positive signs of state and local commitment to change are emerging.

Last week the National Governors Association released Building a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education Agenda, a report focused on strengthening science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Issues discussed in the 44 page report include: Goals of the STEM Agenda; Why the STEM Agenda is Important; Weak Links in the System; Implementing a State STEM Agenda and Moving Forward.

As state education systems and local districts adopt STEM reform strategies, opportunities for ASCE members to advocate for the ‘e’ in STEM will become available.  Are you ready?  Make 2012 the year that you become more in tune with STEM education reform as part of your outreach effort.  Let’s make this year our society’s year to embrace the imperative of the day and help make STEM reform a fact of modern life.

What efforts have you seen in your community or by your Section or Branch to push for STEM reform? Who do you think is the key influencer needed to push the efforts over the top?  What could engineers do to reach that influencer?

Leslie Payne
Senior Manager, Pre-College Outreach

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