Esty wins on STEM bill

Washington – The House on Wednesday easily approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, that would promote the teaching of science, technology, engineering, or STEM, disciplines in the nation’s schools.

Co-sponsored with the Republican Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the bill would add computer science to the STEM disciplines eligible for federal grants.

It would also amend the Robert Noyce Teaching Scholarship programs, which provide college scholarships and stipends to STEM majors who plan to become K-12 teachers . The bill would expand the program to those college students who are working toward a master’s degree, not just those who already have a master’s degree.

There are two Robert Noyce Teaching Scholarship programs in Connecticut. One is UConn’s “Teachers for Tomorrow” program, which prepares teachers throughout the state to teach math, biology, physics, and chemistry. At the University of Bridgeport, the Master Teaching Fellowship Program places physics teachers in high-need high schools in southwestern Connecticut

“As a mother of three, I remember when my children had incredible teachers who made science and math accessible and fun,” Esty said. “We should do all we can to support innovative, passionate teachers for every child in every school. “

The bill was approved in the House 412-8. The House passed a similar bill in the last Congress, but it was not considered by the Senate. The bill’s sponsors are optimistic the Senate will act this time.