Written By: Reagan Flowers, PhD
To surpass academic achievement goals, to help greater numbers of our children break the chains of generational poverty, we must be intentional and deliberate in cultivating talent that has the capacity to take advantage of economic opportunities that are available in STEM.
We do not choose the life we are born into, but we do choose the paths that makes our collective hopes and dreams a reality. Our paths are all different, and for some, the road is much longer and the challenges are greater.
Choosing the correct path can be challenging especially when there are no Google Maps to point you in the direction of opportunities, when you never receive invitations to experience the world of possibilities, and when the standards by which you have been measured have been watered down so much, until you have developed a false sense of preparedness and competitiveness.
Living Smarter is the only way to rise above unjust education systems that continually leaves Black and Hispanic students behind their White and Asian peers.
C-STEM, Communication, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, is what gets young people to work with us, to become self-reliant, to do their part as scholars, to be thoughtful leaders, and to be examples of what is good in the world.
By 2042, minorities will begin to cross the threshold to becoming the majority. Many urban schools serve majority minority students. In these schools, particularly with native Black students, common trends you will find are:
- Low gains in math and reading proficiency
- School ratings at the bottom and they remain at the bottom for three or more years
- Lower enrollment in Advanced Placement Courses
- Lower numbers taking the ACT/SAT
- And, Higher incidences of out of school suspension than their white peers
When it comes to top-scoring schools in math and reading, minority students on free or reduced lunch are less likely to enroll and they experience double digit achievement gaps. For many minority students, particularly native Black students, many of their futures mirror their inheritance at birth.
To get different outcomes, we must start early, at the foundational level of education developing students to be superb communicators, critical thinkers, problem-solvers, innovators, and creators. STEM provides the environment to do just that. STEM is a way of life and allows students to apply classroom learning to the world around them. It leads to futures as entrepreneurs and to careers that pay dividends towards achieving economic empowerment and a wealth base that strengthens families and rebuilds communities.
Data has shown us that more than 50% of individuals who have ever been arrested and more than 30% of individuals on welfare did not attend pre-school.
These are desperate times in public education. The exceptionalism in leadership and student achievement cannot be found in many urban schools as we prepare for more school closures and take overs. And the alternatives given for some school take overs will not provide the innovation needed to achieve the academic gains we hope for.
To meet the demands of the fast-changing high skills technologically driven world, Public schools must have assistance. Overwhelmingly, data continues to report enormous challenges with tapping into the potential and capacity of minority students and in raising our Nation’s overall academic competitiveness.
The lack of innovation and the lag-time by which schools access current technology and instructional tools and resources, causes our students to fall further behind and under prepares them for life and work. Many low skill jobs that were once done by humans have been completely taken over by robots and machines. There are more high skilled jobs, particularly in markets heavily supported by automation, artificial intelligence, and cyber security.
C-STEM helps schools innovate how instruction and learning happens. All of the services C-STEM provides are working for the good of students by helping them achieve academically and gain access and exposure to opportunities. It is incumbent upon us all to be intentional and thoughtful in immersing our future leaders in STEM.