Reaching the Summit

Some good news from Washington. The White House has invited leaders in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from across the country to gather for a first-of-its-kind Education Summit centered on shedding light on the current state of those focus areas. The science-minded meetup takes place June 25 and 26 and is hosted by The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

More than 150 like-minded individuals from across the United States will gather to participate in discussion surrounding federal support for STEM education and activities. The dialogue will “engage state leaders on federal STEM education plans and the best use of STEM education resources for states to scale successful STEM programs,” according to an invitation letter from Jeff Weld, senior policy advisor and assistant director of STEM education for the OSTP. Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council and Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority are fortunate to be included among the invitees.

“Our summit participation represents Arizona’s commitment to giving our youth the best possible education. More importantly, the summit provides an opportunity to support programs that allow children and young adults to explore in-demand career paths that will set them up for success in life,” says Zylstra. “It’s also a chance to better direct federal resources to the states and support the STEM programs that have proven to provide a return on investment.” The CEO and his compatriot in STEM education, Watson, were both nominated by Gov. Doug Ducey, who sent along their information as nominees to join the Summit.

The State-Federal STEM Education Summit will include a diverse group of state STEM leaders. Members will come from public school classrooms, college auditoriums, industry representatives, governors’ offices, and more. In addition to highlighting awareness around STEM education,the goal of the two-day event is to develop a new Federal 5-year STEM Education Strategic Plan in line with the America COMPETES Act of 2010, which works to strengthen education opportunities in the STEM areas of study.

“This event is the first time an administration has asked for this level of state input when developing a Federal STEM education strategy,” said Weld in a statement. “Top-down approaches to STEM education can often yield wonderful ideas, but it’s at the state and community level where the momentum happens. State leaders know best what kinds of programs will work in their communities, and where they need the power of the federal government to help drive success in this field.”

The National Science Foundation will be attending the event as well as the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Smithsonian Institution. The summit represents a comprehensive, multi-pronged effort to understand and influence the future of science education in our country. Leaders from each state, as well as tribes and U.S. territories, will join the Summit

Nick Esquer

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