[This is the addended transcript of my regular KVMR commentary aired on 1 August 2014.]
Listeners to these commentaries are aware of how important America’s STEM workforce will be to the future of our country and our quality of life. Recall that STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. Preparing for a STEM career is hard, and not everyone is qualified to do so. That is a prime reason why so many of our youth seek easier educational paths into adulthood and the nation’s workforce.
With the longstanding decline of our students’ science and math rankings, recently more of our politicians and local civic leaders have come to realize the importance of offering solid STEM curricula in our K-12 schools. At the same time education budgets have gotten tighter for a number of other reasons we have covered before and will visit again. But the bottom line is that there have had to be significant reductions in courses covering non-mainstream subjects such as in civics, the arts, and humanities, in addition to the elimination of many non-academic school programs such as certain sports and special interest clubs. Courses in the graphic and performing arts have been among the hardest hit in such budget cuts.
In the meantime, most school districts have not yet set up a stable curriculum that adequately delivers education in the STEM subjects. Doing this has also been delayed with the recent adoption of the controversial Common Core standards promoted by the federal government. In fact, Common Core now puts a hitch into STEM education by essentially shifting pre-calculus and calculus subjects into college remedial courses for STEM majors.
With all these important things going on, we suddenly see a new initiative from the progressive Left to revive arts education in our public high schools through a specious attempt to attract additional funding from established STEM programs. This is done by injecting ‘Arts’ as a necessary and integral part of a complete STEM education – the new acronym then becomes STEAM.