Thursday, April 12, 2012

Delaware: Excellent coordinated state STEM plan

While labor market projections have galvanized many policymakers and education stakeholders to call for improved STEM education and a better-prepared future STEM workforce, in many cases the efforts that have resulted to date seem to be disjointed across the P-20 spectrum and across affected stakeholders (business community, various agencies and state and local policymaking entities).

Delaware's STEM Council, created a little over a year ago by Governor Jack Markell, provides one model for a coordinated state-level approach across education sectors and stakeholders. The council's first annual report, released earlier this month, concisely articulates Delaware's current state of STEM affairs, as identified by six committees - (1) business collaboration and communication, (2) women and minorities, (3) public education (P-12 education), (4) program evaluation and monitoring, (5) higher education recommendations, and (6) an advisory committee (cutting across agencies and education sectors) - as well as recommendations for 2012 action for each. Pages 16 and 17 represent a bold move, providing a March 2012-March 2013 quarter-by-quarter timeline for the council to act on its various recommendations.

The council has clearly done its homework, both in terms of (1) what the state is and isn't doing in STEM education and STEM business/education collaboration, and (2) what the state can and should be doing. The council and report together provide a fantastic model for other states to consider as they seek to improve quality, access and coordination between P-12 and higher education and the private sector on this important issue.

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