STEM Should Be a Natural Extension of Literacy Education

By Chuck Cadle

The nation seems enamored with the acronym STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.

However, according to the National Math and Science Initiative, the lack of STEM proficiency is a crisis for U.S. educators, with students finishing 25th in math and 17th in science in the ranking of 31 countries by the Organization for Economic Coordination and Development (OECD). These findings are of significant concern, of course, because essential elements of a STEM education are absolutely necessary for youth to find future employment that is enriching, rewarding, relevant and of importance in the world.

Microsoft reported in 2011 that it had engaged Harris Interactive to conduct research to determine the STEM perceptions of parents and students, and found that 49 percent of K-12 parents see STEM as a top priority, but only 24 percent would be willing to spend extra money for STEM education. The divide between the survey group's knowledge and its participants' willingness to act on that knowledge is disconcerting, especially in light of the accepted value of STEM in providing competitive advantages in life.

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