The issue: Science and math
We suggest: State push is welcome
A new state effort is aiming to get more students interested in fields that are in high demand for workers.
Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, said the motivation behind the statewide push is to increase the number of students — particularly women — pursuing degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — or STEM.
“Women are very underrepresented in these fields. We know that part of the problem is we can’t just start at the high school level,” Hewitt said. “You really have to start at the elementary level in creating an interest and building the skills.”
The 29-member Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Advisory Council is tasked with getting the state’s numbers moving in the right direction.
That is a welcome goal and one the entire state should embrace.
Right now, about 33 percent of male college graduates have degrees in these high-demand fields. But only 10 percent of female graduates are in those fields.
The council is made up of state education officials and representatives from private industry — the companies that will be trying to hire people in these subject areas.
Some work can be done at the college level. By trying to encourage students who have the ability to pursue these degrees, colleges can help them be the best prepared for the job market.
But for many students, by the time they get to college, they lack the knowledge and prerequisites they would need to go into the STEM fields.
That’s where our local schools have to do a better job of identifying strong aptitude and encouraging its development.
If students excel in math and science, even at the youngest ages, they should be given every chance to thrive in those fields.
Even further, though, more must be done to help those who do not excel at first in those fields but who might be excellent in them if they are given the right direction and help.
The effort itself is a positive sign that the state is prioritizing educational performance that will be the most beneficial for the students.
And trying to encourage these fields doesn’t lessen the importance of others. Instead, it is a healthy move toward getting people who might be naturally inclined toward lucrative degrees the encouragement they need to pursue them.
This is a welcome and noble goal for a state that has a lot of room for improvement in its educational system. It is good to have a plan for that improvement and a clear idea of where we want it to go.
Now the real work — in implementing it and realizing its goals — begins.
Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.