1. Why does STEM matter to your organization?
Ultimately, we want to ensure that a child’s future is not determined by their zip code and that all kids have access to an excellent education so they can have a life full of choices, opportunities and a chance to achieve their dreams. We believe that receiving an excellent education in STEM is a big part of achieving our overall vision. Not only do most careers require a foundation in math or science, but our students need to be able to solve the problems and challenges our country is facing today and the challenges we will face tomorrow.
2. What is your organization doing about it?
In 2006, we launched a math and science initiative in partnership with Amgen. Our STEM Initiative focuses on three key components: 1) increasing the number of STEM corps members 2) bolstering the support and training we provide to our STEM teachers, ensuring that they are delivering the highest quality education possible to their students, and 3) supporting our STEM alumni to be a force for change in STEM education.
3. Has your organization been successful at reaching its STEM goals? (Please feel free to point to specific programs.)
>p>Since launching our STEM Initiative, Teach For America has grown to become one of the largest providers of STEM teachers. Last year, in our 2011 corps, we recruited, trained and placed 1,800 first-year STEM teachers, which was the largest in our organization’s history. We have also seen a growing body of rigorous research demonstrating that our corps members are having a measurable positive and statistically significant impact on student learning.
4. If you could have three wishes granted by the STEM genie, what would they be?
First and foremost my wish is for every child to have an excellent and effective STEM teacher every year who challenges and inspires them.
Second, for excellent STEM teachers to feel valued and appreciated by our society and to get the recognition and credit they deserve for doing incredibly hard and important work each day.
Third, for all students to feel empowered and confident in their STEM abilities so that they aspire to seek a variety of STEM careers, including teaching!
5. Beyond your organization, what one thing should be done now to help solve the STEM crisis?
I believe that partnership between industry, formal educators, informal educators, nonprofits, higher education and all others who are working on STEM is crucial to our success. The more we can all operate with a common vision and partner with schools, communities and each other the faster we will be able to ensure that all children have an excellent STEM education and that our children have the opportunities they absolutely deserve. It’s critical that our country continue to compete and innovate so that the jobs are filled with a highly talented workforce here in the U.S.