(Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers today introduced the Strengthening America’s Innovation and Competitiveness Act (H.R. 3242). This legislation focuses on ways to improve education in the fields of math, science and foreign language and creates incentives for students to enter the fields of science of technology.
“If our country is to stay competitive in the global economy, then we need home grown engineers, scientists and mathematicians,” said Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “High-tech companies throughout Washington state do not currently have access to enough workers to fill open positions. With countries such as China and South Korea graduating more students than the United States in these high need fields, our competitive advantage is being put at risk. Creating a skilled workforce must start at the educational level. By making math and science exciting to students beginning in elementary school, and ensuring they receive the best instruction throughout high school, we will hopefully see more students choosing to seek careers in these fields.”
“This bill supports students, teachers and schools by increasing the knowledge base in math and science instruction and making it easier for schools to find qualified teachers in these subject areas,” said Dr. Becky Cooke, former teacher and principal in the Mead School District. “This is especially important for rural schools in Eastern Washington that have a more difficult time recruiting teachers. I hope this bill will help ensure that students in impoverished or isolated areas end up with the same access to opportunities as everyone else. I thank Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers for working closely with educators and administrators in Eastern Washington to craft legislation that helps our students and teachers succeed.”
“Foreign competition in the fields of math and science is leaving America at a competitive disadvantage,” said Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), Ranking Member on the House Education and Labor Committee. “While the U.S. still leads the world in scientific and technological innovation, this nation must continue to be flexible to meet the new realities of today and the daunting challenges of tomorrow. Mrs. McMorris Rodgers’ legislation will help us meet those challenges, and I thank her for her continued leadership on this issue.”
Highlights of the bill include:
Adjunct Teacher Corps
Authorizes a program to recruit and train highly qualified individuals who are experts in their fields to serve as adjunct teachers in math, science or critical foreign languages for schools that are experiencing a shortage of teachers in these fields. For example, this bill would allow a well-qualified individual such as Bill Gates to teach computer science courses to high school students.
Advanced Placement (AP) Program
Increases the number of students enrolled in AP classes and increases the number of teachers who are qualified to teach AP courses in math, sciences and critical foreign languages. It provides funds to give salary increases or bonuses to teachers who become AP qualified or whose students successfully pass AP exams in these high need courses.
Creates a competitive grant program to strengthen elementary and middle school children’s math success by providing schools resources in the best available evidence on mathematics instruction – with the goal of ensuring that all students reach challenging grade level achievement standards.
Honors Scholarship Program
Awards full scholarships through the Byrd Scholarship program for graduate and post graduate students studying math, science, engineering or computer sciences with the agreement that they will work in that field for five years after graduation.
Critical Foreign Languages
Provides grants to higher education institutions in partnership with local education agencies to establish programs of study in critical need foreign languages that help students achieve proficiency in those languages.
Women in STEM Fields
Includes a sense of Congress that women are playing an increasingly important role in key sectors of the economy and must have access to opportunities to excel in math, science and technology.