Policy and Reports
STEM education is a vital national priority. Over the Foundation’s 18 years of nationwide STEM education, outreach, recognition programs and competitions we have been fortunate to witness multiple government and private sector efforts. These efforts have driven essential growth in the national commitments to widespread opportunity in STEM and dramatic expansion of capabilities and programs.
Across the nation, vital initiatives must be further encouraged. Separate: 1) federal, 2) state, 3) local and 4) private sector efforts are underway in building independent but cohesive STEM education development and programs. All four of these approaches are in the national interest and call for immediate action.
Recently, federal STEM leadership has grown exponentially through multiple avenues including the National Science Foundation, Department of Education, Congressional STEM Caucuses, multiple congressional committees in both Houses of Congress and, particularly for the Foundation, multiple administration initiatives of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
Executive Branch leadership is vital. In 2006, President Bush took decisive action in STEM government agency and funding support. President Obama moved dramatically forward in 2008 and reaffirmed in 2015 as follows: “[Science]” [STEM] is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world…”
Congressional initiatives are being driven by House and Senate STEM caucuses and multiple committee initiatives. Though not yet cohesive, they provide an extraordinary and expanding base. In addition, Members from all regions and parties have undertaken personal leadership. Yet, even with bipartisan sponsorship of important proposals, and passage of the STEM Education Act, much can still be done by the Congress.
In supporting multiple viable federal agency federal initiatives, we hope to encourage ongoing federal agency efforts to ingrain a “cohesive national strategy” in STEM education programs. This can exponentially increase the impact of federal investments in areas where CCA’s “informal education” programs have an established presence: grades 6-12 STEM instruction and application; increasing and sustaining public and youth community service and engagement with STEM; providing necessary financial incentives for application of the team projects and thus better serving groups and communities historically under-represented in STEM fields. The CCA has done these through student nurture, rigorous scientific requirements, mentor training and middle school competitions.
Innovative federal programs employing a range of informal education techniques, student nurture and competitions models which enable citizenship service, can be extraordinarily productive. For us, congressionally endowed coin sale funds enabled CCA’s “army” of local mentors, coaches and judges to enable student team scientific exploration across multiple disciplines. With only the incentive of team performance and student enrichment CCA adult coaches, teachers, judges, and many other volunteers donated an estimated 30 thousand hours annually; volunteers often remain with the program for multiple years, mentoring new entrants through social media and direct contact. Across the nation, efforts to craft multi-agency rules and regulations encouraging STEM citizen leadership provide exceptional opportunities.
Essential state, local and community “informal education” initiatives have long been drivers in expanding STEM and technology pipelines. A variety of these “hands on” programs provide worthy models enhancing opportunity for educationally underserved communities ranging from the inner city to rural America. For example, our successful diversity outreach has grown annual female youth participation to 50+ percent and minority students to 30+ percent – both well above national norms. Our rural and badly underserved economic zone teams have received national recognition. Through this we can further innovatively drive community service via technology and alternate learning opportunities where home schooling and online education are emerging priorities.
Recent outreach has demonstrated to us the vital state, local and community roles played by libraries, museums, research centers and other science driven institutions. All are critical to the advancement of “informal education” programs strongly promoted by policy leaders including the National Governors Association (NGA) and the National League of Cities (NLC). Each can be both cost effective and individually tailored. In tandem, multiple efforts have demonstrated the value of formal education and professional development as well as diverse systems and incentives to recruit, retain, and reward high-performing STEM educators.
The private sector role in innovation, resources and manifest leadership cannot be overstated. We are proud that the Foundation is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) effort where private sector participation and leadership has proven particularly effective. To us, encouragement of diverse private sector driven programs building upon the foundation of integrated efforts cannot be overemphasized.
Historically, successful PPPs have utilized multiple federal, non-profit and for-profit source resources. Our programs have been built upon substantial revenues from sale of the Quincentenary Christopher Columbus coins, appropriated funds, multiple agency programs, individual contributions and private sector goods, services and funds. Multiple partnerships have demonstrated the value of these options. For instance, multiple joint agency and academic institution partnerships have emerged as STEM education leaders.
Going forward, we will build upon our 20 years of success in forming public-private partnerships. We have partnered with federal agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF). Our record of STEM based private partnerships incorporates for-profit and non-profit organizations of all sizes and types including: Bayer Corporation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Walt Disney Corporation, DISCOVER Magazine, the National Italian American Foundation, the National Museum of Education, the Association of Middle Level Education, and the American Farm Bureau Federation. Select private colleges and universities have long provided CFF guidance and support.
As always, the Foundation’s policy positions are driven by the clear need to dramatically drive STEM education and performance. We particularly encourage the federal, state, local and community recognition given to private sector competition leaders and public officials whose work we encourage and enthusiastically support.
We look forward to supporting all who can help achieve universally available STEM education programs. Building upon science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills to enabling student teams and volunteers in providing community and national service remains four missions.