February 7, 2012

Stemming the losses

With multiple studies pointing to the loss of STEM-trained workers, a combination of
efforts by Mississippi educators and federal programs may give the state a chance to single
itself out answering the call...

...Rhonda Crawford is a teacher at Hattiesburg’s Oak Grove High School, and her students are 9th graders. While the work of all teachers is valuable, she’s in a field many feel is particularly
important in a global economy.

...She’s a STEM teacher, shorthand for science, technology, education and math. Crawford and peers like Andy Gunkel and David Fava in Gulfport and Rick Saucier in Hancock County, are trying to address what multiple studies have indicated is a serious problem. The United States is falling further behind in graduating students with degrees in the science and technology fields, and it’s particularly acute with the retirement of baby boomers.

...And it’s not just a matter of producing more scientists, engineers and mathematicians. In the highly competitive global economy, businesses across the board need workers comfortable with the activities associated with STEM.

...But several educators see the national problem as an opportunity for Mississippi to single itself out. A combination of efforts on the state and local level, along with the intense interest and creative outreaches of federal agencies operating in the region, is reaching hundreds of teachers and many times more students, and indications are the numbers are growing. And with the state ranked 20th in STEM job growth, the need is clearly there.