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December 13 2014

Want to Boost STEM Workforce? Expand Parental Choice

Vicki E. Alger

In a recent email announcement White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith lamented that:

So many of the breakthrough contributions of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields continue to go untold, too often fading into obscurity. …

Research shows us that a key part of inspiring more young people to pursue careers in science and technology is simply sharing the stories of role models like them in these fields who have had a significant impact on our world.

In response, the Obama Administration has created an interactive audio hub, The Untold History of Women in Science and Technology. Expanding parental choice would be a better way to help girls and boys prepare for science careers—but instead the administration has sought to kill successful programs in D.C., Louisiana, and Wisconsin.

According to the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), more school choice would help prepare the STEM workforce of tomorrow:

In a new report from the National Center for Policy Analysis, Senior Research Fellow Lloyd Bentsen contends that private school choice can increase student engagement in STEM subjects. Engagement in today's schools is a problem -- as a 2013 Gallup poll notes, 45 percent of students are not engaged or are "actively disengaged" while at school.

The current public education system uses a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching, which often results in disengaged, unmotivated students. Because students have a wide variety of learning styles and interests, Bentsen says that school choice would allow students to attend the schools that best fit their learning styles. If students could choose their schools, schools would have an incentive to compete in offering effective and engaging lessons, and schools could choose to specialize in certain areas or offer theme-based education (such as a sports-themed school) that would motivate students who might not succeed in a traditional learning environment.

Being prepared for the careers of their choice starts with giving all students and their parents their choice of schools. 

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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