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Rockefeller talks future

By Staff | Feb 25, 2011

Sen. Jay Rockefeller joined university and public school educators at Shepherd University Monday to discuss the importance of STEM education in West Virginia’s economic future.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 80 percent of the fastest growing occupations depend on knowledge of math and science, and high-tech jobs pay 86 percent more than the average private sector wage nationwide.

“We must focus on getting students interested and keeping them interested in science, technology, engineering and math education in order to prepare our national and state work force for the high-tech jobs of the future,” Rockefeller said. “That is why I worked so hard to get the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act signed into law.”

The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act was signed by President Barack Obama last month to commit $45 billion to science, technology and education programs over the next three years. The Act is designed to provide more jobs and strengthen the foundation of America’s economy.

“It passed the Senate overwhelmingly without a descending vote,” Rockefeller said. “The law will increase our nation’s innovation, competitiveness and economy, through investments in research and education.”

Teachers pointed out several challenges to increasing STEM studies, such as more training for teachers.

Shepherd University President Dr. Suzanne Shipley said, “It really costs more to educate teachers to be able to do what they’re talking about. You don’t get that in a single degree – you have to be educated over and over.”

Sparking the students’ motivation also was a concern for teachers.

“Active learning is important. It’s the person you connect with, not just the subject,” Shipley said.

“A lot of it’s awakening students to their own self-potential,” Rockefeller added.

Rockefeller also stressed the importance of good grantsmanship as a hurdle toward receiving any grant money.

“America COMPETES has billions and billions of dollars, but you can only get it through writing a good grant that’s persuasive,” he said. “If you don’t write a good grant, you don’t get the money.”

Rockefeller will continue his tour across West Virginia to discuss STEM education and address the problem of prescription drug abuse.

– Staff writer Megan Fisher can be reached at 304-263-3381, ext. 132, or mfisher@journal-news.net