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Lawmakers Focus On STEM Education For 2018

Here's what you might have missed this week at the statehouse.

Science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, has received a lot of attention at the statehouse lately, and that means the 2018 legislative session could bring major shifts for STEM education throughout the state.

House Education Committee chair Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) says he plans to push for more math and science professionals teaching at the elementary school level.

“The content area elementary license would be one thing we would look at just because to be successful in STEM you need a solid foundation in math,” Behning says. “If we’re serious about STEM it would be great to have math, science experts in the elementary world as opposed to waiting until you get to middle or secondary.”

READ MORE: New Indiana School Standards Target Computer Science Skills

Many schools have been hard-pressed to fill teaching positions, especially in the STEM fields. The state allows districts to apply for emergency teaching permits for “content specialists,” or experts in a subject area who lack a teaching license. But Gov. Eric Holcomb has said he aims to ease licensing hurdles for STEM teachers in 2018.

Proponents of a STEM-focused education agenda say it ties into a bigger plan for the state to address workforce needs. During a panel discussion at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative preview, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said computer science skills are “absolutely critical” for any industry.

His statements followed the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s unveiling of computer science in its agenda for the upcoming session; it hopes to push for a computer science graduation requirement for high school students.

The Chamber stresses its goals align with Holcomb’s own agenda to develop a “21st century ready workforce.” His 2018 plans include an overall strengthening of STEM curricula and requiring every Hoosier school to offer computer science courses by 2021.

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