Jason Gonzales, Nashville Tennessean
Published 5:22 p.m. CT Feb. 13, 2019
Gov. Bill Lee is prioritizing STEM education in his legislative agenda, which proposes to boost opportunities for students statewide, including the creation of statewide K-8 computer science standards.
The Wednesday announcement is Lee’s second education initiative tied to his legislative priorities and would create the Future Workforce Initiative focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Lee is proposing $4 million to create the initiative. The proposal must be approved by the Tennessee General Assembly.
“Our agenda advocates for increased access to career and technical education for K-12 students and a key part of this includes prioritizing STEM training,” Lee said in the news release about the announcement. “The Future Workforce Initiative is a direct response to the emerging technology industry and making sure our students are first in line to be qualified for technology jobs.”
Lee’s proposal aims to place Tennessee in the top 25 states for job creation in the science, technology, engineering and math sector by 2022.
Lee’s proposal will focus on three areas. They are:
- Launching 100 new middle school programs in STEM fields. Lee wants to triple the number of STEM-designated public schools by 2022.
- Growing the number of teachers qualified to teach work-based learning and advanced computer science courses through training and the creation of K-8 computer science standards.
- Expanding postsecondary STEM opportunities in high school through increased access to dual credit, AP courses and dual enrollment.
Lee said in the release that 58 percent of all STEM jobs created in the country are in computer science fields, but only 8 percent of graduates study computer science in college.
“By exposing Tennessee students to computer science in their K-12 careers we are ensuring our kids have every chance to land a high-quality job,” Lee said.