At a time of fiscal constraint and severe cuts to numerous federal programs, President Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposal confirms his commitment to strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. On numerous occasions–including during last month’s State of the Union address–the president has pointed to the importance of U.S. advancements in STEM for global competitiveness and for the health of our national economy and citizenry.
There are several promising points of emphasis as it concerns proposed funding for STEM fields:
A promising endeavor by NSF, in particular, provides a partial answer to harsh criticism the Obama administration received for its proposal to eliminate minority-serving institution-focused funding. The NSF budget is clear in stating that these programs will continue to exist in budget cycle 2012, with the addition of a new pilot endeavor: Transforming Broadening Participation through STEM (TBPS).
Under NSF’s Education and Human Resources directorate, TBPS will “engage the field in new approaches to broadening participation that can reach particular populations such as Hispanic-serving institutions.”
In all, the 2012 budget as proposed by President Obama presents an enormous opportunity for the STEM education community. A sharp focus by the administration on K-12 math and science education, dovetailed with a commitment to postsecondary completion for all fields, with an emphasis on undergraduate STEM degrees and related workforce advancement, is unprecedented.
From economic crisis comes creative opportunity. The administration, statehouses, and individual institutions alike have made, and will continue to make, tough decisions across education budgets. Yet what we must remember is the momentous commitment that policymakers and educators have collectively built to support inclusivity in STEM education. The populations that we must engage for the future of our nation’s health and prosperity are growing in size and so must our attention to support them. The president’s budget is one of many signals that support such efforts. Let us each find our own signal and let us remain dedicated to its message.
Resources for the Reader:
Dr. Lorelle L. Espinosa is the director of policy and strategic initiatives at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based independent, nonprofit organization that is dedicated to increasing access and success in postsecondary education around the world.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.