Michigan lawmakers are considering new legislation that would allow certification for high school students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Legislation introduced by state senator John Proos outlines the requirements that would allow for the certification, including six credits each of math and science. Proos says the certification will give students an advantage in today’s competitive job market.
“The biggest and most important thing public policymakers in Lansing can do is set up an environment for these kids to succeed in today’s very competitive jobs environment and climate,” Proos said.
Proos said the certification could entice more employers to come to the state, which would in turn allow for more students from Michigan to remain in the state when they enter the workforce.
“The two really are hand-in-glove with each other to give kids the best opportunity to experience future job opportunities and decrease the total number of open jobs in the state of Michigan,” Proos said.
If the bill becomes law, Michigan would become the first state in the country to offer a STEM certification on the diplomas of graduating high school seniors.
The bills are currently in the hands of the Committee on Education. While specifics pertaining to the specific math and science curriculum needed have not been officially worked out, Michigan STEM Partnership Board of Directors chairman Paul Agosta is reminding state officials that the legislation would need to ensure any practical learning attained by students be applied to coursework in college or to the job market.
“Skill development is more about the practical side of the world, not theoretical,” he said, adding, “The problem is young people are not retaining the theory because it does not have a relevance to them.”
While Agosta agrees that the certification could be beneficial for students in college and beyond, he says updates are needed in how STEM is taught.
Republican state Rep. Amanda Price of Park Township would like to introduce matching bills in the House this November that will mirror the Senate bills in an effort to show employers that Michigan is focused on STEM education – something that Governor Rick Snyder, who won re-election on Tuesday, has repeatedly promoted.
“STEM education is not only one of the most exciting pieces of education but one of the most important pieces we could aim our kids toward,” said Price, “because the jobs are great. Education is needed in the state and the jobs are needed in the state.”