FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Tue Dec 06 15:42:03 EST 2011

Nation’s first state STEM Education Caucus formed in Tennessee Legislature

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 6, 2011—The Tennessee Legislature announced the launch of a bipartisan, bicameral Tennessee STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education Caucus during the 2011 legislative recess. This is the nation’s first state-level caucus on education issues.

In an open letter to the legislature, Senior Chair Sen. Jim Tracy (R-16) of the caucus, invited interested legislators in both chambers to join the caucus and stressed the importance of the creation of the caucus. The caucus will be co-chaired by Sens. Jim Tracy (R-16) and Reginald Tate (D-33), along with Reps. David Hawk (R- 5) and Brenda Gilmore (D- 54).

The most recent 10-year employment projections by the U.S. Labor Department show that of the 20 fastest growing occupations projected for 2014, 15 of them require significant mathematics or science preparation to successfully compete for a job. Key problem solving skills, an understanding of scientific and mathematic principles and a working knowledge of technology and computers are critical for most jobs. Yet today many Tennessee elementary grade students score below the basic level in science as determined by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card.

Members of the Tennessee Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (TN STEM Ed) Caucus are committed to developing an innovative workforce and preparing the next generation of Tennessee’s scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technicians. The caucus will provide a non-partisan forum for Tennessee legislators and outside business, science, technology and education communities to come together to discuss challenges, problems, and solutions.

The caucus will provide opportunities for all state legislators and staff to learn more about local and state models of excellence to improve STEM education that can be expanded and replicated. As a non-voting bloc, the goals of the caucus are to: Provide a bicameral, bipartisan forum for STEM education issues to be raised

  • Foster the education of Tennessee Legislators and their staff on STEM education-related subjects
  • Promote the recruitment and retention of highly qualified teachers into STEM education within the state
  • Develop strategies to increase the number of students pursuing careers in STEM fields and to improve the overall ability of the workforce to thrive in an increasingly STEM-intensive workplace
  • Engage all students in STEM subjects at a young age and keep them engaged through their education and career
  • Engage academic and business partners in the achievement of STEM education goals

An advisory committee composed of state and federal leaders in STEM education will work with the caucus to develop content and organize events. It is not a lobbying entity. The core advisory committee members are the American Chemical Society (ACS), the STEM Innovation Network, Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, UT-Battelle, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Tennessee Chamber, Tennessee STEM Education Leadership Council, Tennessee Science Teachers Association, Tennessee Business Roundtable, Center of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Education, ETSU and Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association.

A formal kick-off event of the caucus will be held on January 23, 2012, at the Tennessee State Capitol when the Legislature reconvenes for the 2012 year.

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