Improving and enhancing STEM education is a national priority. There is bipartisan support for this issue among policymakers driven by the understanding that science and technology drive economic growth and a strong education in these topics is essential to meet the demands of the 21st century workplace. The Obama Administration’s Educate to Innovate campaign demonstrates the priority given to this issue at the highest levels by a variety of stakeholders. There is also a growing realization that out-of-school-time environments such as afterschool programs provide an ideal setting to engage children and youth in STEM topics and spark their interest. Several recently released influential reports, such as the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report, specifically call out afterschool programs as partners in the STEM education agenda.
STEM education policy is embedded in a variety of initiatives and legislation:
In addition, there is a great deal of activity at the state and local levels to advance STEM education. States such as California and Rhode Island are leading the way to set up systems that will allow for wide spread implementation of STEM programs in afterschool programs all over their states. New York City has a robust system for STEM education in afterschool and their model will be expanded to include other cities shortly. Corporations and philanthropic foundations are also invested heavily in STEM education efforts all across the nation.
STEM education policy will be an extremely active area in the coming year(s) and the Afterschool Alliance is taking the lead to advance federal policies that ensure afterschool programs will be an integral part of the STEM education agenda. Keep checking back to learn about the latest developments as we all work to prepare the next generation of STEM professionals.