Press Releases

McAdams advances bill to improve science, technology, engineering and math education in rural schools

November 18, 2019

Congressman Ben McAdams’ bipartisan legislation to enhance STEM education in rural schools has been advanced by a House committee. The Rural STEM Education Act (H.R. 4979) was approved unanimously in the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, a step towards consideration by the full House. Congressman Frank Lucas, (R-OK) is the lead Republican on the bill.

Nearly half of all public schools are considered rural and more than 9 million students in the U.S. attend rural schools.  Those schools face unique barriers to providing STEM education, including a shortage of science and math teachers, high teacher turnover and difficulty accessing online and computer-based technology.  This legislation gives teachers, students and rural communities some of the tools they need to overcome these challenges.

“This legislation provides research grants that help educators develop tools for the classroom that are inexpensive but effective STEM teaching methods,” said McAdams. “What works could range from industry partnerships to mobile labs, as long as it’s proven to get kids excited about and successful in STEM.”

"Supporting teachers and students with increased access to STEM resources will greatly improve the educational opportunities for rural students, who can use those STEM tools to succeed in a global economy, often times without having to leave their hometown. This will strengthen the rural economies, which in turn strengthens the whole state,” said Dr. Tamara Goetz, Executive Director, Utah STEM Action Network.

McAdams said the bill also authorizes National Science Foundation grants on evaluating the use of online courses for STEM in rural communities. It also authorizes a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) prize competition on creative technologies to deploy affordable and reliable broadband to underserved rural communities.