It's time to step up when it comes to preparing our K-16 students (Rep. Michael Honda and Dana Ditmore)

At the national level, President Obama is promoting one important piece of this puzzle with his plan to recruit 10,000 new STEM school teachers.  Last month, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issued an urgent call to action, citing that federal policy and funding must strategically build a sustainable infrastructure in order to improve science and math education in schools.  The Council’s report urges the Department of Education to play a more active role in K-16 STEM education, increase communication between the science-oriented federal agencies that fund STEM initiatives and programs, and effectively engage the STEM education and professional communities.

We couldn’t agree more, which is why Rep Honda, a former science teacher, introduced H.R. 6248 last month to enact the President’s recommendations and improve STEM education coordination and coherence among federal and state governments. Advancing STEM education across the nation, this bill provides students with the skills necessary for them to compete in today's global economy and to understand increasingly complex issues.  Building upon Rep Honda’s 2009 STEM legislation, this new bill also lays the foundation for Rep Honda’s 112th Congressional plans to introduce even more comprehensive STEM education legislation informed by the STEM education and research communities.

At the local level, our San Jose State University’s STEM teacher preparation programs foster communication between the STEM education and professional communities, ensuring the "T" and "E" (of the STEM equation) are not overlooked in California’s science and math classrooms.  The developing partnerships between SJSU’s Colleges of Science, Engineering and Education represent an important alliance that will help teachers achieve deep STEM content knowledge and mastery of STEM pedagogy –two distinguishing characteristics that are the hallmark of a great STEM teacher. These types of partnerships and innovations can serve as a model for STEM teacher centers throughout the US.

Model these partnerships correctly and we not only keep Silicon Valley competitive stocked with highly-skilled, creative workers, but we improve STEM education coordination on a national scale. For our nation to remain a leader in scientific advancement and technological innovation, this is what is required of us, nothing less.  It is time to step up and STEM it.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services and Education and has introduced H.R. 6248, Elevating STEM Education. Dana Ditmore, executive director of Silicon Valley STEM Education Association, is raising funds for SJSU’s Center for STEM Education.