June 12, 2009
Today I attended the launch of the Colorado STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Network, a math and science non-profit organization that promotes the importance of all four subjects and strength STEM education throughout the state.
The launch was held at the Old Supreme Court chambers in the State Capitol. The chambers were filled with more than 200 stakeholders from education and business communities and a variety of political leaders too, demonstrating the keen interest in this initiative. Speakers included Gov. Bill Ritter, Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, CU Denver chancellor M. Roy Wilson, and STEM Network board members Gary Barbosa (Lockheed Martin Corporation) and Dr. Carole Basile, who is also director of the Center for Applied Science and Math for Innovation and Competitiveness. In addition, state board of education members Angelika Schroeder and Marcia Neal were in attendance.
Two years ago, Colorado was one of six states selected to receive a grant from the National Governors Association, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Intel Corporation to create a statewide STEM education initiative. With the help the University of Colorado--Denver, Colorado submitted a proposal that outlined two chief priorities: to create a sustainable, influential P-20 Council, and to create a network of “grassroots-level” STEM compacts or regional organizations.
The Colorado STEM Network will be operating out of the Department of Labor and Employment (Division of Workforce Development).
“I am thrilled to be here today to reflect on the impressive accomplishments we have made in STEM education, and to look ahead at the incredible opportunities before us,” said Gov. Ritter. “Bold reform is underway, and it’s not enough for one organization to lead the charge. All of us in this room—business leaders, educators and advocates—must sustain the state’s STEM agenda.”
Gov. Ritter further stated the that case for STEM is apparent, saying one in four students who start ninth grade do not graduate, two-thirds of high school graduates do not go on to college and one-third of college freshmen need remedial training. He also commented that we are producing a generation of young people that will actually be less educated than their parents’ generation.
During my comments, I introduced CDE content specialists Barry Cartwright (science) and Melissa Colsman (mathematics) who will be key representatives from CDE in all STEM discussions. I also urged the network members to make sure that we create a different opportunity for students in the state, and that we create different learning conditions that reach out to all students, including those from low socioeconomic backgrounds. I encouraged members of the STEM network to support the concept of a residential math and science academy. I believe a residential approach is needed to ensure that students from rural districts have the opportunity to learn in the best programs, too.
I have no doubt the STEM effort will be successful, thanks mainly to the educators across the state who are doing the hard work of engaging students in all four subjects. The key to the future of our economy is embedded in what students are learning in science, technology, engineering and math and, as the governor said, we can’t leave this issue to chance.