Minority Education Deserves More Attention, Funding (Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson)

Congress has initiated or enhanced several Federal programs this year designed to expand our nation's science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM) talent pool.

Current workforce trends demonstrate that Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and other minorities are not entering the STEM fields at rates proportionate to their numbers in our population. Research shows that the pipeline to the STEM professions starts breaking down for minorities in the K-12 classroom, and that a well-trained teacher can make the difference between a student's success and failure in math and science.

Recognizing this, I co-sponsored legislation that seeks to create 10,000 new teachers able to touch 10 million young minds. This bill boosts incentives for college students to pursue math and science teaching degrees and later teach in underserved schools. Ultimately, it aims to increase the number of highly qualified math and science teachers in schools which suffer from a shortage of well-prepared teachers. It also authorizes $1.5 billion for federal scholarships and continuing education programs for current math and science teachers.

This bill further provides special consideration during grant competition for minority serving institutions and historically black colleges and universities, which produce an impressive number of minority scientists disproportionate to their level of resources.

Another act passed in the House creates a new grant program for scientists and engineers in the early phases of their careers. These new researchers are the pioneers who discover new technologies that improve our economy and quality of life. The prospect of steady funding ensures that they will get to see their studies and research through to a successful completion.

In October, Congressman Al Green (D-Texas) and I will bring education and technology leaders to my home district of Dallas. There, we will discuss education strategies that give everyone the skills needed to contribute to and benefit from the innovation-based economy.

Whether investing in research for the future, offering scholarships to tomorrow's teachers or improving K-12 science and math education, we are continually seeking and finding ways to enhance this nation's ability to compete and innovate.