WILL Press Release | Getting Beyond the Buzzword: WILL Report on STEM Education in Wisconsin

September 29, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – A new Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty report, authored by WILL Research Fellow Collin Roth, explores the state of STEM education in Wisconsin’s K-12 public schools.  Based upon extensive interviews with school leaders, the report tells the story about why schools are focusing on STEM, how schools develop their programs, and the different ways the state has allowed STEM to thrive.

Given the stated priority of developing a skilled workforce to keep Wisconsin’s economy moving forward, the report provides an overview of the efforts being made at the school level to address the skills gap.  Key takeaways of the report include:

  • Businesses in Wisconsin warn that a “skills gap” is holding back the state’s economy.
  • Nationwide, the STEM economy is growing faster than the non-STEM economy – 16% from 2014 to 2024. Demand is outstripping the labor supply. In recent years, this has resulted in a focus on STEM education by schools, business leaders, and policymakers.
  • Resources, such as Project Lead the Way and Fab Lab grants, are available from both the state and private organizations for schools looking to invest in STEM education.
  • School leaders say teacher licensure, curriculum, and the cost of technology are some of their biggest hurdles to implementing STEM.
  • While progress is slow, Wisconsin has created an environment that could make STEM education pay off in the long run.

As part of our report, we profiled two public schools, Three Lakes School District in Oneida County and LakeView Technology Academy in Kenosha County, where forward-thinking school leaders have successfully implemented a STEM curriculum. Their stories, chronicled in two short videos, show the success of their students, the importance of attracting high quality teachers, and the pivotal role that local businesses can play in curriculum, resources, and mentorship for students.

By cultivating a skilled workforce, Wisconsin can compete and thrive in the emerging knowledge economy. STEM education as an option for Wisconsin students will be a valuable key to unlocking that future.

Videos profiling the Three Lakes School District and the Lakeview Technology Academy can be found here and here.

Read the full report here.

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