Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Sen. Kaufman Honors the Administration's STEM Efforts

September 16, 2010

Mr. President, I rise to congratulate President Obama for announcing today the launch of Change the Equation, a CEO-led effort to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education or STEM. I rise to celebrate this incredible effort.

I have spoken many times on the floor, to outside organizations, and to a number of my colleagues individually about my passion for this issue. STEM education is a topic of personal importance to me, especially because I am the Senate's only formerly working engineer.

I truly believe, now more than ever, whether it is energy independence, global health, homeland security, or infrastructure challenges, STEM professionals will be at the forefront of the most significant issues of our time. That is not hyperbole; I believe that. STEM-educated graduates will hold the jobs of the future.

In fact, according to a study by Georgetown University's Center for Education and the Workforce, by 2018, STEM occupations are projected to provide 2.8 million new hires. This includes over 500,000 engineering-related jobs. When I hear people talk about how we are going to create jobs and talk about the macroeconomic effects and microeconomic effects, eventually you have to have jobs. You have to have people who are ready to take those jobs. That is the only way we are going to make it through this economy. In the next 20 years, as the Georgetown study has said, there will be 2.8 million more good jobs to keep us competitive in the United States with overseas.

That is why I am so pleased that the business community has responded to President Obama's educate and innovate campaign to improve the performance and participation of American students in all the STEM fields. Launched last fall, the campaign aimed to create partnerships between Federal agencies, companies, foundations, professional societies, and other STEM-related organizations to help American students rise to the top of the pack in math and science achievements.

In response to the President's call to action, astronaut Sally Ride, former Intel CEO Craig Barrett, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, Eastman Kodak CEO Antonio Perez, along with support from the Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation joined to form Change the Equation. With a membership of more than 100 companies, this nonprofit, nonpartisan, CEO-led initiative will replicate successful privately funded programs in 100 high needs schools and communities.

Change the Equation will be working toward three goals: One, improve STEM teaching at all grade levels; two, to inspire student appreciation and excitement for STEM, particularly for women and underrepresented minorities; and three, to achieve a sustained commitment to improving STEM education across the United States of America. I am so pleased because these are some of the same goals I have advocated for during my time in the Senate.

Many Change the Equation members, nonprofits, and foundations have already created new public-private partnerships and made commitments to meet these goals.

Public-private partnerships--that is what we need, and this is a great example.

For example, Lockheed Martin, the Military Child Education Coalition, and the National Math and Science Initiative will expand access to advanced placement classes in STEM subjects to public schools serving military families. What can be better than that? Talk about mixing everything together and coming out with something great.

HP is launching a U.S.-wide employee volunteering initiative with Donors Choose and National Lab Day. Other programs will improve professional development for STEM teachers, expand summer science camps for girls, and allow more students to engage in robotics competitions, to name a few.

If you have not seen a robotics competition, see one. It is incredible to see what these young people can do to make robotics. They can do something technologically difficult but have so much fun doing it.

All told, with the commitment made today by Change the Equation, the Educate to Innovate campaign has resulted in over $700 million in financial and in-kind support for STEM education. This is an incredible accomplishment and just the kind of public-private collaboration we need to bolster STEM education.

Yesterday I submitted a resolution commending the efforts of the entertainment industry to encourage interest in STEM, something with which our Presiding Officer is very familiar. Many in that industry have heeded President Obama's call to join the educate and innovate campaign. The key to this is to make people feel it is cool to be an engineer, a mathematician, or scientist. What better way than to have leaders in entertainment encourage this kind of activity? It is a wonderful program.

Today, I could not be more pleased that so many of our Nation's CEOs have also paid attention to this call to action and joined together to form Change the Equation. This is wonderful news. Support for STEM education is essential--essential, essential, essential--for our economic growth and recovery. It is the future of our workplace. The American people deserve no less.

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