Equal access to STEM education comes to Ohio

Posted on Thursday, 1/9/2014 12:46 PM

Ohio's Cleveland Metropolitan School District will now be providing equal access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education for limited English proficient (LEP) and Latino students after a compliance review held by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), according to a press release.

Increasing accessibility to STEM education
While the district offers four STEM high schools, only 130 of the district's 5,586 Hispanic students attended during the 2012-2013 academic year. After reaching an agreement with the department's OCR, the school district will make more of an effort to not only ensure STEM programs are accessible to all students, but also to promote STEM within LEP and Latino communities, which the district had not been doing. 

Administrators and teachers in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District have the opportunity to use student software to help during the transition period.

Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for the OCR, detailed the importance of STEM education in a statement.

"Increasing student interest and expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is critically important to developing more scientists, engineers and innovators who will help our nation maintain its position as a global leader," she said.

While the Cleveland Metropolitan School District is taking steps to battle under enrollment among Latino students in the STEM schools, government officials in Ohio are looking to increase interest in STEM programs among all students in the Ohio area.

Though students are attending high schools aimed at STEM education, few students remain in the Ohio area to pursue careers in these fields, the Newark Advocate reports. To combat this lack of interest, Ohio Rep. Jay Hottinger is co-sponsoring a bill to incentivize students to not only pursue STEM paths, but to stay in the state as well. 

The House Bill 123 offers students tax credits ranging from $5,000 to $30,000 if they pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics while living in the state for at least five years upon graduation. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects that occupations in these areas will increase by 21.7% in the next five years.

The future of STEM education
President Barack Obama, whose administration launched the Educate to Innovate Initiative in November 2009, wants American students to move to the forefront of STEM innovation within the next decade. 

"We need to make this a priority to train an army of new teachers in these subject areas, and to make sure all of us as a country are lifting up these subjects for the respect that they deserve," said Obama in a speech at the 2013 White House Science Fair.

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