U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., today introduced the Rural STEM Education Act to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education access and training in rural communities.
“As employment opportunities in STEM fields increase, it is critical that we provide rural schools the resources necessary to offer quality STEM education and prepare students for today’s workforce,” said Wicker. “I am glad to join my colleague Senator Rosen in leading this effort, and I look forward to seeing our bill advance.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the need to address the lack of resources available to our rural communities--especially when it comes to technology,” said Rosen. “I’m proud to introduce this important piece of legislation that will support research and development activities to better understand the challenges rural communities are facing in providing quality STEM education programs. I will continue working on forward-thinking legislation to give our students the education and training they need to succeed in a 21st century economy.”
The Rural STEM Education Act would:
- Direct the Secretary of Commerce to establish a prize competition to encourage innovative ideas to deploy broadband connectivity to rural communities;
- Instruct the National Science Foundation (NSF) Director to establish a working group to address research challenges and opportunities for improving broadband access. The working group would be required to report their findings to Congress; and
- Direct the NSF Director and the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate federal programming for rural STEM education and make recommendations for ways in which it can be improved.