Finger Lakes STEM Hub Launch

April 30, 2012

Sara Silverstone

Each month since December of 2010 I have had the privilege to facilitate a remarkable collaborative group of leaders in education, government, higher ed and community organizations as we developed a regional Hub of the Empire State STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Learning Network. We developed a mission, vision, goals, working committees and action items for the year. In the past week we began inviting influential community leaders to join our Board of Champions. We have big plans and a wonderful, energetic and diverse group to carry them out. This is networking at its best!

Nearly every day I read about economic problems whose solution is to develop a technically trained workforce who can fill the jobs of the 21st Century. Students graduate without the skills employers are desperately seeking, and as a result, half of all of recent college graduates are either jobless or underemployed while great jobs are remain unfilled. Clearly there is a gap between what we are teaching our young people and what they need to learn in order to find good jobs.

What can leaders from business and education do about this disconnect, which adversely affects everybody?  By coming together in agreement about the elements of a high-quality 21st Century education and ensuring that that is what our students receive, the double-edged problem of unemployment and lack of a skilled workforce can be addressed. For too long, industry and education operated in separate silos, unaware and unconcerned about their common needs.

With the launch of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub, our region joins a statewide and national STEM learning network which enables all constituencies to acknowledge our common goals and work across sectors to address our nations most pressing technical and economic problems.

Over the next few weeks, participants in the Finger Lakes STEM Hub will share their perspective on how STEM education can address our most pressing problems and how the Finger Lakes STEM Hub can contribute to these solutions.

STEM Education Deemed Essential for National Defense

April 17, 2012

An independent study, sponsored and written by The Council on Foreign Relations, has recently been released claiming that the United States’ K-12 school systems are failing to prepare students to grow up and protect the country.  The report titled, U.S. Education Reform and National Security, notes that while the Unites States invests more in K-12 public education than many other developing countries, its students are unprepared to compete with their global peers.  A member of the Council’s task force, Margaret Spellings, comments that there are not enough people educated in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.  Being prepared in these fields ultimately helps our country with national defense as well as global competitiveness.   She also highlights the lack of people who know and understand foreign languages and how this affects the United States’ conflict resolution abilities and economic growth.

Members of The Council on Foreign Relations Task Force discuss the U.S.Educational System and its affect on national security.
(Photo taken from

 The Council on Foreign Relation’s task force is lead by former U.S. secretary of state, Condoleeza Rice, and former head of New York City public schools, Joel Klein.  The task force warns that unless the problems within public education are fixed, the United States will not be able to lead or even keep pace in the global economy. 

So what can our country do to fix these problems?  The reports recommend three main focus areas in order to improve the educational system and ultimately national defense. The first is to expand state standards to include STEM focused lessons and foreign languages that are vital to protecting national security.   The second is to give parents and students school choice, which includes access to charter schools and other options.  The third is to conduct national readiness audits in all schools and hold them accountable if they’re not meeting standards. 

 Members of the council adamantly encourage Americans to get involved and discuss educational issues with their local legislatures.  They believe that their message and recommendations can help to reshape education in the Unites States and put this country on track to be an educational, economic, military, and diplomatic global leader.

For more information on the Council on Foreign Relations and the U.S. Education Reform and National Security Report CLICK HERE.