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MetroWest Site for Creation of STEM Advisory Council

October 14, 2009

October 14, 2009

Senator Spilka today joined Governor Deval Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, Representative David Linsky (D-Natick) and community leaders to sign an executive order establishing the Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Advisory Council at the MathWorks in Natick.  The new council will serve as a central advisory body, bringing together public and private sector stakeholders involved with STEM planning and programming, with the goal of increasing student interest in, and preparation for, careers in STEM.

“As a strong advocate for STEM education both within my district and statewide, I am thrilled that the Governor is sending a strong message that we as a state must have a coordinated and well-thought-out strategy for increasing the number of students at all level who pursue these disciplines,” stated Senator Spilka, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.  “STEM education is key to ensuring that Massachusetts residents have access to good jobs in their communities, to ensuring that the companies that have made our economy so strong in the past stay here, and to ensuring the continued economic vitality of the Commonwealth.”

In her capacity as legislator for the MetroWest, often heralded as an innovation center for the state, Senator Spilka has been a vocal advocate of the need to prepare students for the highly-skilled, well paying jobs available through life sciences, high tech and clean energy companies.  She has secured funding to expand programs like the Leadership Initiatives for Teaching and Technology (LIFT2) Program, which was mentioned by the Lieutenant Governor as a model program at today’s event.

The STEM Advisory Council will take a multi-faceted approach in its first year, assessing how best to increase the number of STEM programs in schools in Massachusetts, advising on the creation and dissemination of a statewide STEM Plan with clearly defined goals and objectives for the next five years, and providing recommendations on a campaign to build public support across the educators, and community leaders, the STEM Advisory Council seeks to achieve a greater understanding about the importance of these essential disciplines to a student’s individual success.

“The STEM disciplines are essential building blocks of a cutting-edge highly skilled workforce,” said Governor Patrick.  “This effort to bring together the very best resources and ideas the Commonwealth has to offer around these areas of study means that today’s students will be ready for tomorrow’s jobs.”

The Council builds upon the existing infrastructure and work already established by the Patrick-Murray Administration, including the IT collaborative, the Readiness Project, the Goddard Council, of which Senator Spilka is a member, and the 21st Century Skills Task Force, as well as work being done in the private sector across the Commonwealth.

“It is imperative for the Commonwealth to promote STEM careers and course of study for our young people,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray, who will chair the STEM Advisory Council.  “Reports indicate that Massachusetts students actually outpace most of the nation in math and science, yet our students’ interests in STEM fields remain low.  Improving the level of coordination in the state will lead to increased opportunities for students of all ages and help us also retain and attract businesses that need a highly skilled workforce.”

Data from the College Board for the 2008 SAT exam indicates that only 22.5% of all students taking the SAT test in Massachusetts expressed interest in pursuing a college major in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  However, data from the 2008 ACT exam indicates 65% of all ACT test takers in Massachusetts were considered “college ready” in math.  In recognition of these findings, advocates of STEM education and awareness are committed to leveraging the state’s existing talent with the successful implementation of a comprehensive STEM agenda statewide.

The Council will consist of members from both the public and private sector.  Education Secretary Paul Reville will join Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Suzanne Bump, as well as legislators and leaders from the education, business, and non-profit sectors.

“We are firmly committed to working with our colleagues to ensure that all students are fully educated and prepared for positions in the STEM field that will drive our economy,” said Education Secretary Paul Reville.

“Massachusetts has one of the most highly skilled, innovative and entrepreneurial workforces in the world and STEM education is key to ensuring we maintain that leadership position,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki.

“We look forward to this thoughtful collaboration across agencies and sectors to create a better prepared workforce,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Suzanne Bump.  “Training in STEM fields will ensure our economic growth and prosperity.”

“The STEM program is already working to prepare our students for technology careers at schools like Natick High School, which has an innovative STEM program where math and science teachers spend their summers at state-of-the-art technology firms and bring that experience back to the classroom,” said State Representative David P. Linsky, House Chair of the Federal Stimulus Oversight Committee.

“I am pleased to hear that with the establishment of this commission, the Governor has made STEM one of his administration’s top priorities,” said State Senator Thomas McGee, Senate Chair of the Labor and Workforce Development Committee.  “STEM is central to creating sound education, economic development, and workforce policy.  It is important that we have an elevated forum such as this commission, to bring together leaders in the respected fields to help move forward STEM planning and programming.”

“It is an honor to be selected to serve on the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and I look forward to building on the success of the Goddard Council as we go forward securing our place in the Commonwealth as a leader in the creativity and innovation that has been the trademark of the Massachusetts economy,” said State Representative Daniel E Bosley, House Chair of Bonding, Capital Expenditure, and State Assets.


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