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Lucas Bill to Improve STEM Education in Rural Schools Passes House

(Washington, DC) – House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas praised the passage of his bipartisan legislation to improve STEM education for rural schools today. STEM refers to science, technology, engineering, math, computer science, and strong STEM education critical to America's economic growth.

H.R. 4979, the Rural STEM Education Act, addresses the unique challenges that make it difficult for students in rural areas to access high-quality STEM education. Rural schools are grappling with a shortage of science and math teachers, high teacher turnover, and difficulty accessing computer-based technology.

Lucas explained that STEM education for rural students is not an isolated problem: Nearly half of all schools are considered rural, and more than nine million students, or roughly 20% of all schoolchildren, attend rural schools. And of the 21 million Americans who lack access to broadband, the majority live in rural areas. These barriers set rural students back, making them less competitive in the evolving job market.

Lucas also noted that STEM jobs are growing three times faster than non-STEM jobs, and students who bring STEM degrees and skills to the workforce have starting salaries more than 30 percent higher than their counterparts.

Watch Lucas Speak in Support of the Rural STEM Education Act

Lucas noting that America's economic growth depends on a STEM workforce with the skills to keep us at the cutting-edge of technological development said:
“To succeed in this job market, our students need to be equipped with solid skills in science and engineering. More than ever, America's prosperity and security depend on an effective and inclusive STEM workforce. I believe rural areas represent one of the greatest yet most underutilized opportunities for talented students to enhance the United States' future STEM workforce.”

Lucas said that COVID-19 has made this legislation even more critical. “Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen further proof that rural students are at a disadvantage given the unreliable or non-existent broadband access many must deal with while distance learning,” he said.

The Rural STEM Education Act supports rural schools by giving teachers more resources and training in STEM, engaging students through hands-on education, and increasing broadband access.

Taken together, the measures in the bill will dramatically improve rural STEM education.

The Rural STEM Education Act was cosponsored by Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Representative Jim Baird (R-IN), Representative Ben McAdams (D-UT), and 43 other members of Congress.

The STEM Education Coalition has endorsed it, the After School Alliance, Battelle and STEM-X, the National Science Teaching Association, the American Chemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, Microsoft, the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., National F.F.A. Organization, and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.

Bill Details:

Source: Press Release
Date: September 16, 2020
House Science Committee Republicans
H-2 394 Ford House Office Building, 
Washington, DC 20515
Contact: Heather Vaughan

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