Letter to Congressman Hanna Supporting STEM Education Opportunity Act
August 20, 2012
Dear Representative Hanna:
On behalf of the National Education Association’s (NEA) more than 3 million members, we would like to express our support for the STEM Education Opportunity Act (H.R. 6325). We thank you for your leadership in introducing this important legislation to provide real incentives for students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
With millions of Americans looking for work, the poverty rate reaching perilous new levels, and household incomes falling, bold steps are needed to create strong, lucrative career opportunities across this nation. Careers in STEM fields lead to greater innovation, economic growth, and increased productivity for the nation as a whole. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM jobs will increase at a rate of 17 percent a year while non-STEM jobs will increase by 10 percent. Further, STEM occupations pay better wages, so individuals and families benefit directly. Studies show that those in fields requiring a STEM associate’s degree earn some 40 percent more than those with associate’s degrees working in non-stem fields, and those with a bachelor’s degree earn 27 percent more than their peers in non-stem fields (Source: Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce, http://cew.georgetown.edu/stem/).
We are pleased that your bill would provide tax incentives on a permanent basis for students pursuing STEM in postsecondary education at the associate’s degree level or higher. Accountability is reflected in the requirement that a student be making satisfactory progress toward a STEM degree. While other tax credits and deductions are part of a mix of federal efforts to make college more affordable, H.R. 6325 goes further: this bill prioritizes occupations in critical fields and provides a more generous deduction in terms of dollar amount, carry-forward ability, and eligibility for benefactors that fund the STEM education of a student who is not a child or dependent. These types of bold steps are warranted for STEM education, for individuals to obtain and succeed in postsecondary education, and for our nation to flourish economically.
We thank you again for your leadership on this important issue.
Director, Center for Advocacy
Director, Government Relations