DANBURY, Conn. – In an effort to boost job skills, U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-5th District) introduced legislation Wednesday that would empower school districts to better engage girls and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and math, commonly known as STEM.
The 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act would eliminate barriers for girls and historically underrepresented minorities in the early stages of their educations.
“Our competitiveness as a nation depends on ensuring that employers can draw from a STEM-educated workforce,” said Esty, who represents Danbury in Congress. “We cannot compete effectively when far too many children are being left behind. This legislation will help level the playing field to make sure that all of our children have the skills they need to excel in high-demand careers.”
U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) joined Esty in introducing the legislation.
“A highly skilled, STEM educated workforce is essential to ensuring U.S. competitiveness and leadership in a rapidly changing global economy. Unfortunately, our country is facing a shortage of workers skilled in these areas. This legislation will help broaden the STEM pipeline to include those who have been historically missing, and will create a larger, more diverse STEM talent pool,” said Beatty.
The act would provide funding for local educators to create the necessary infrastructure for enhanced STEM learning early in a student’s academic career. These increased resources would be used to improve professional development for teachers, strengthen outreach to parents, provide mentoring and tutoring programs, expand access to after-school and summer programs that provide additional enrichment opportunities in STEM, and promote academic advice and assistance in high school course selection that encourages girls and underrepresented minorities to take advanced STEM classes.
Recent research suggests that an alarming under representation of women and minorities currently exists in STEM employment fields in the United States, Esty said.
This bill would give school districts the tools they need to help reverse this trend, bolstering the diversity and effectiveness of our nation’s STEM workforce, she said.
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