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Obama announces new initiatives to advance STEM education

WASHINGTON - September 16, 2010 -

President Barack Obama announced today that the federal government will be moving boldly to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) achievement by America’s students. National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel, who joined the president at the White House for the announcement, applauded the administration’s efforts to boost innovation and learning in these fields.

“We applaud this announcement because we too are committed to preparing our students in STEM fields so that they can be competitive in the global marketplace. We understand that our nation’s prosperity is tied to innovation spurred on by students’ engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Van Roekel said. “For America to be technologically competitive in the future, our students must become more fluent in complex science and math.”

During a nationwide back-to-school tour in late August, Van Roekel saw a prime example of STEM innovation, in the form of the innovative new Math and Science Leadership Academy (MSLA) in Denver. At this school, the local NEA affiliate is collaborating with management to create new ways of doing business. It is a union-designed, teacher-led public school that is making a difference for urban students within the Denver Public School System.

“As I toured MSLA in August, I saw teachers inspiring children in math and science in exciting new ways,” Van Roekel said. “I am optimistic that President Obama’s announcement will encourage more innovative schools like MSLA in the future.”

In addition to NEA’s work on school transformation, the NEA Foundation is working closely with the Ohio Appalachian Educators Institute (OAEI) in Columbus, Ohio, the Bogalusa Association of Educators in Bogalusa, La., and the Milwaukee Public School system in Milwaukee, Wis., on projects that inspire educators and students and increase their awareness of STEM-related fields.

For the past two years, students in Bogalusa, La., have enthusiastically participated in a STEM summer camp that emphasizes hands-on learning. This summer, camp enrollment doubled, and students were involved in building a model green home.

Educators in Ohio attended a 2009 summer immersion program through OAEI where they learned about advanced energy and alternative energy curriculum issues. Last summer’s program was so successful that it was repeated this year.

In Milwaukee, educators are creating a curriculum on the sustainable food-growing practice of aquaponics, in conjunction with the Urban School Aquaponic Initiative. This curriculum will be used to engage students in hands-on learning in two of Milwaukee’s high-needs schools.

“By giving educators access to top-notch professional development on STEM issues, we are giving them the tools and skills they need to further inspire STEM achievement with their students,” Van Roekel said. “These projects have the power to engage our students with real-world learning opportunities and inspire them to raise their achievement in STEM areas.”

Read NEA’s Policy Brief on STEM at
Read about the Math & Science Leadership Academy in Denver at
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing
3.2  million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Samantha Kappalman  (202) 316-3980,