The STEM Education Act of 2015 has officially been signed into law! This bill was introduced by Lamar Smith, Chairman of the ‘Science, Space, and Technology Committee’, and was approved unanimously by the House and Senate. It “strengthens science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education efforts and expands the definition of STEM to include computer science.” Fantastic, right? On the face of things this sounds great, but will this law really bring computer science education to kids everywhere?
Chairman Smith, in a statement about his bill said; “We must prepare our students for degrees in STEM subjects to ensure that they have the ability to thrive in today’s technology-based economy. This means motivating more American students to study STEM subjects, including computer science. Unfortunately, America lags behind many other nations when it comes to STEM education. American students rank 21st in science and 26th in math. The STEM Education Act expands the definition of STEM, encourages students to study these subjects and trains more teachers."
This news will be music to the ears of many parents. We’ve written before about the recent push to bring computer science education to classrooms across America, and about the great work organizations like Code.org (/Hour of Code) are doing. However, the passing of this law doesn’t mean that the fight to bring computer science education to every kid is over. Mark Engelberg, a computer scientist and educator, had this to say:
“This law explicitly names computer science as one facet of ‘STEM Education’. The main effect is that it allows CS outreach and teacher training to be funded through existing federal STEM programs. I hope that school districts take a cue from this law and classify computer science as a science. The absurd situation right now is that most High Schools and Colleges fail to count high school CS classes towards science requirements for high school graduation or college admissions, a policy which prevents many students from studying the subject.”
Clearly there is still a need for reform if we want the next generation to be able to meet the increasing demand for computer scientists. This law is a step in the right direction, but there’s still work to be done.
Click to read the press release for the STEM Education Act of 2015.