STEM Teachers for Equity

On January 25, 2011, President Barack Obama highlighted the STEM teacher shortage as a national priority during his State of the Union address. As a result, corporations, foundations, schools, and communities have scrambled to enact measures to recruit, develop, and support highly-qualified STEM teachers.

In Washington State, a recent analysis of our STEM education landscape by The New Teacher Project (2010) found that not only does Washington State not attract and produce the quantity and quality of STEM teachers needed, but that “access to high-quality teacher candidates and effective STEM instruction is most limited in the highest-need schools.” Like many places in urban America, high-need schools in our local region are also some of our most ethnically diverse schools, largely due to a multigenerational history of impoverishment and sustained failure in social and economic systems (Kozol, 2005). Thus, the fastest growing demographic – people of color – in the United States (Blackwell, 2010) is largely under-prepared to compete for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs and denied knowledge and skills they need to make meaningful contributions to the world’s most challenging problems.

The cost of the growing inequity in preparation of students for STEM in our most high-need schools is both morally and economically untenable. It portends a calamitous future for the US economy in terms of its ability to innovate in the global marketplace (Chubin & Malcom, 2008), and underscores local educators’ need to develop, both in terms of quantity and quality, highly-qualified teachers capable of equipping all students with the knowledge and skills they need to achieve in STEM college majors and careers.

The Opportunity

There are no silver bullets to right the educational and economic inequalities in South King County or the complex systems of privilege that produce them, yet by focusing on the development of highly-effective STEM teachers, we can ameliorate the impact of impoverishment at scale for many of our most vulnerable students.

South King County already has several schools, districts, and organizations (e.g. Hack The CD, Roadmap project, and WA STEM) that work to make STEM education a high priority. Their continuous efforts provide a favorable context for implementing regional STEM professional learning communities who can build on and add value to existing partnerships.

A Solution

STEM Institute provides a robust STEM professional learning community for teachers committed to educational equity for our region’s most vulnerable students.

We work directly with schools and districts to increase teacher and building leadership capacity through ongoing consultation and coaching, including in-person and online engagement with diverse education, business, and community leaders at the forefront of STEM education and equity-focused reforms.

We provide teachers a researched-based model for the integration of content standards, project-based learning (PBL), critical pedagogy, and design thinking into classrooms facilitated by leading STEM educators and industry experts.

URM = Underrepresented Minority (Currently includes African Americans, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans (American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians), Pacific Islanders, and mainland Puerto Ricans)

References

Boosting the Supply and Effectiveness of Washington’s STEM Teachers (Rep.). (2010, January). Retrieved October 19, 2011, from The New Teacher Project website: http://tntp.org/assets/documents/TNTP_Washington_Report_Jan10.pdf?files/TNTP_Washington_Report_Jan10.pdf

Blackwell, Angela Glover., Stewart Kwoh, Manuel Pastor, and Angela Glover. Blackwell. Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Chubin, Daryl E., and Shirley M. Malcom. “Making a Case for Diversity in STEM Fields | Inside Higher Ed.” Inside Hire Ed. N.p., 6 Oct. 2008. Web. 13 Oct. 2013. .

Kozol, Jonathan. The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. New York: Crown, 2005. Print.

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