What a great week to kick off the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network STEMTales Blog!
This week was not only Back to School for most New Jersey school districts, it was also the week Education Week released its national state rankings for public schools and, for the first time ever, New Jersey came in as #1!
Education Week, a national industry publication, looked at 39 categories, including school finance, academic achievement, and socioeconomic factors, to rank the states’ school systems for its annual “Quality Counts” report. Important to New Jersey’s ranking was its school funding strategy, which helps to balance the funds to support both wealthy and under-resourced school districts.
Here at the NJSPN, we are excited to see New Jersey public schools ranked as #1, but also know that we must continue the work that we do to drive the importance of STEM/STEAM education, both inside and outside of the classroom. Our work is critical because of the demand for STEM thinkers.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are the underpinnings of everything in our society. When you are a trained STEM thinker, you can do anything – not just be part of the traditional STEM workforce – but there is certainly a need. According to the Pew Research Center, STEM occupations have grown 79% since 1990. Specific to New Jersey, STEM jobs will grow by 9% between 2017 and 2027, while non-STEM jobs will grow only by 5%. By 2025, it is estimated that the U.S. will have 3.5 million STEM jobs to fill. It is widely known that STEM occupations out-earn non- STEM fields by 12-30% across all education levels; however, not many students are pursuing careers in STEM fields. The NJSPN is hoping to change that.
At this point in time, New Jersey’s STEM economy is positioned to become a global leader. The NJSPN has brought together STEM stakeholders from across the State to identify challenges and opportunities in STEM in the areas of: computer science, early learning, teacher training and recruitment, and workforce development. Progress is being made. Both the Murphy Administration and State Legislature have approved measures that provide solutions to developing a more robust STEM workforce and economy in the State: requiring all high schools to offer computer science, incentivizing public-private partnerships in research, expanding access to high-quality pre-k, and supporting companies investing in STEM internships and students pursing STEM careers here in the Garden State.
The NJSPN is thrilled to see where New Jersey stands as a leader in education and will continue to support the State’s pursuit of excellence in STEM. We encourage all who are interested in this pursuit to join us in our work. You can join us at our quarterly meetings, our priority groups, STEM Month activities, or update our calendar with your STEM events.
Good luck this year – it’s going to be a great one!