D.C. STEM Symposium Examines Equity Issue

Career College Central summary:

  • Much attention has been brought to bear of late regarding the decline in the number of college students majoring in STEM disciplines. This decline is particularly acute among minority students, raising concerns that large numbers of such students will be shut out of rapidly growing sectors of the economy.
  • To address this issue, education stakeholders convened at the Symposium on Advancing Equity through More and Better STEM Learning at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. yesterday. In her keynote, Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, pointed to problems in the public school system. While strides have been made with regards to equality, some schools, as Lhamon put it, have failed to live up “to the promise of Brown.”
  • To remedy an unequal system, Lhamon noted that the U.S. Department of Education is pushing for continuing funding for Race to the Top, a program that works to improve schools and incentivizes innovation and reform.
  • “It’s so enormously gratifying to me to make the change that we’ve been able to make, but it’s distressing to me that we still need to be fighting so many of the same fights, that we still need to be having so many of the same conversations,” said Lhamon. She gave examples of public schools struggling to provide adequate and equal educational opportunities to students.
  • Lhamon described a high school in Alabama with a 90 percent Black student body that, until three years ago, never offered an advanced placement course. Neighboring high schools, with Whiter student bodies, did. Despite this disparity, the district achieved unitary status, which indicates that desegregation has been achieved.

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