InSPIRE STEM USA: Immigration Innovation Act (I-Squared) Is Key to Improving National STEM Education and Addressing Disparities Among African Americans in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
-- In 2009, African Americans Represented Just 7 Percent of STEM Bachelor's Degrees --
Washington, DC (March 5, 2013) --The bi-partisan Immigration and Innovation Act of 2013 would be crucial to reducing disparities among African Americans studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and computer science, inSPIRE STEM USA Co-Chair Maria Cardona said today. I-Squared includes a provision establishing a national STEM education fund that expands recruits and trains more teachers in STEM fields and expands opportunities for more students to study in those areas.
African Americans earning STEM and computer science degrees from community college through the doctorate level declined by 7 percent from 2001 to 2009, dropping from 8.1 percent to 7.5 percent. Additionally, African Americans received just 1 percent of the degrees in science technologies in 2009 and just 4 percent of all the degrees in math and statistics.
"STEM and computer science fields are recognized not only as important drivers of the American economy, but also of American innovation," Cardona said. "It is where our future lies. As such, no matter how strong the American economy is, we are weaker overall if America's education system cannot produce graduates representative of America. One of the reasons inSPIRE STEM supports a national fund dedicated to STEM and computer science education is that it can expand opportunities in these critical fields for all students and help students currently studying these subjects complete college."
Cardona added that I-Squared would also result in addressing the nation's STEM jobs gap by helping companies fill thousands of positions that are vacant because there are not enough workers trained in STEM fields to meet demand. By increasing the number of H-1B visas and filling those positions, the legislation would also help support thousands more jobs in communities throughout the country.
The STEM fund would be funded by fees from the companies that need additional visas and green cards to fill those high-skill jobs.
Cardona said the fund would help improve retention rates that would help address STEM and computer science education disparities. According to a 2012 U.S. Department of Education report, 29 percent of the African Americans students who began bachelor's degree programs in these fields in 2003-04, dropped out of college. And another 36 percent of those students transferred to a non-STEM major.
Each instance of a student dropping out of college or moving away from a STEM and computer science field, Cardona said, limits the nation's ability to fill STEM jobs.
"The better America does at erasing the disparities in STEM and computer science education, the more prepared and competitive we will be as a nation in the global economy," Cardona said.
More at www.inspirestemusa.org
inSPIRE STEM USA
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