Cornyn Introduces Bipartisan Rural STEM Education Act

I, along with Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), yesterday reintroduced the Rural STEM Education Act to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and training access in rural communities.

Texas has a booming science and technology sector. Unfortunately, students who lack access to high-quality STEM educations may have less opportunities in these fields. This legislation would help ensure that students in rural areas can access the same STEM resources as their urban peers to prepare them for high-skilled, high-wage science and technology-related jobs.

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;
  • Direct NSF Director to provide grants to support training for STEM teachers in rural schools, conduct research to identify barriers rural students face in STEM education, and establish partnerships between community colleges and rural high schools. The funds would assist the improvement of online STEM education and hands-on training at rural schools; 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.
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