Posted by Jaqueline Cortez Wang, Senior Advisor, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics
On March 16, 2016, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (Initiative) held its Bright Spots in Hispanic Education Google+ Hangout (Hangout) monthly session. The fourth Hangout highlighted the work of Bright Spots focused on STEM education and the Hispanic community. Melissa Moritz, Deputy Director for STEM Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, and I were joined by representatives from Bright Spots in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, and Texas. The Hangout featured promising practices and strategies helping to broaden participation of Hispanics in STEM education and related fields.
According to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, between 2010 and 2020, the overall employment in STEM occupations will increase by 17%, yet Latinos are underrepresented in STEM fields and not enough are graduating with STEM degrees to match the increasing demands for these jobs. And, when it comes to accessing key math and science only 67% of Hispanic students have access to the full range. For Latinas, the underrepresentation in STEM is even greater, with only approximately 9% of Latinas obtaining a STEM-related degree at the post-secondary level [National Center for Educational Statistics, 2009]. The Bright Spots we spoke to are helping to combat these disparities through their hard work.
In an effort to reframe the narrative suggesting the interest of Hispanic students, in particular of Hispanic girls and women, in STEM is low, we must work together to ensure access and opportunity. The Bright Spots also highlighted the importance of engaging parents, supporting educators and informing the community about the benefits of rigorous math and science courses and careers in STEM. They also stressed the need to expose students at earlier ages, starting in preschool, and to train and recruit more Latino STEM teachers who can serve as role models and can expose students further.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we also learned about efforts to increase the number of Hispanic girls and women entering STEM related fields. As a former employee working at NASA, it was especially encouraging to see Bright Spots focusing on this specifically. The Obama Administration has called for improvements in STEM education, increases in the number of STEM teachers, and additional opportunities encouraging all students, including girls and women, in science careers. Thanks to the efforts of our Bright Spots and the continued investments from the federal government, I look forward to seeing more Latinos enter and complete STEM degrees.
The next Google+ Hangout will take place on Wednesday April 20, 2016 on Latino Teacher Recruitment. We hope you will join us as we work together to move the needle on progress for Hispanic students across the nation.
View the full engagement video here: https://youtu.be/afImTdQ3DOk