This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion.
Although it’s a safe bet most people in Wisconsin know little if anything about the debate over nationwide academic standards, the so-called “Common Core” guidelines under fire in the Legislature, they’ve probably heard of STEM education.
That’s an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, a collection of subjects that many experts, parents and business leaders believe should be taught more in American schools as a matter of global competency in a competitive age.
In fact, STEM is so relatively accepted that the original acronym has spawned at least two variations – STEAM, which adds arts to the mix to promote creativity and design thinking skills, and ESTEAM, which folds in entrepreneurship and the notion of applying STEM knowledge to solve real-world problems.
Gov. Scott Walker and others may have their problems with Wisconsin’s Common Core standards, which have been in the works since 2009, but when it comes to STEM education, his office proclaimed next week as “STEM Week” in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction recently rolled out a modest grants program for schools that want to enhance STEM programs, and many statewide groups are working to make science, technology, engineering and math a bigger part of the curriculum.
That raises the question: If people of different political stripes can agree STEM education is vital, why are they unable to come together around the nationwide effort to address uneven academic expectations across the spectrum of subjects taught through K-12 education?