Gov. Perry Promotes $100 Million STEM Challenge Scholarship Initiative
WACO – Gov. Rick Perry today was joined by state and education leaders at Texas State Technical College to promote a $100 million initiative to help students pursuing degrees and certificates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields receive the education necessary to compete in the global workforce. The STEM Challenge Scholarship will emphasize providing competitive awards to regional partnerships between higher education institutions, school districts and local employers to help attract, retain and graduate STEM students.
“Accelerating the number of college students graduating in a high-tech field is essential to maintaining a globally competitive workforce,” Gov. Perry said. “This scholarship program will encourage higher education institutions to design STEM programs that meet local employer needs, while providing Texas students the opportunity to pursue the education they need as they fulfill their potential.”
This effort builds on the state’s existing incentive funding program, which provides $80 million to universities to increase the number of graduates, particularly in STEM fields. The governor has also proposed $60 million in additional measures to continue efforts to strengthen STEM education in Texas schools. This includes expanding the Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program by 50 additional schools, which would increase the number of students taking AP exams by certifying additional AP teachers. From 2000 to 2009, the number of Texas students passing AP exams each year increased 140 percent, with African American and Hispanic rates increasing by 218 percent and 194 percent, respectively.
“I’m proud that Texas has one of the largest STEM networks in the country,” Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott said. “This scholarship program lets students know that their hard work is paying off.”
Gov. Perry has also proposed greatly expanding the nationally recognized UTeach program, which recruits college students to become math and science teachers, to five additional higher education institutions. This would create an additional 2,000 STEM teachers in Texas public schools over a five-year period. The governor has also proposed doubling the number and scope of the state’s high performing T-STEM academies from 46 to 92, significantly increasing the number of students attending these academies.
“Texas must intensify its efforts to recruit, retain, and graduate students in STEM fields to ensure we stake our claim in the 21st century economy,” Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes said. “The governor’s STEM Challenge Scholarship will prove to be an invaluable tool for helping Texas achieve its goals for Closing the Gaps by 2015.”
Ensuring that Texas remains a leader in job creation depends on the development of our workforce and is imperative to Texas’ future prosperity. This initiative is building upon successful initiatives like T-STEM academies and legislation such as House Bill 3 of the 81st Legislative Session, which for the first time holds schools accountable for graduating college- and career-ready students. These efforts will help ensure future generations of Texans have the educational foundation necessary to compete and win in the increasingly competitive global economy.
The governor will work with lawmakers over the next several months to implement this initiative and secure funding during the 82nd Legislative Session.
Rapoport Academy Public School
Waco Independent School District
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