Potential changes to STEM education affect Missouri Schools

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JEFFERSON CITY - A special legislative session could cause changes to STEM education in schools throughout Missouri. 

The bill could expanded access to STEM courses and skills such as computer science skills throughout Missouri public schools.

The bill was previously vetoed by Governor Mike Parson in July.

This is one of the many STEM bills that have been brought before the Missouri house floor in the past years. 

Groups such as the Missouri Chamber of Commerce Industry have been backing the bill since its inception, in hopes that the bill will solve unemployment problems down the road.

"There is over 10,000 open jobs right now that require computer science skills that employers just can’t find people to fill," said Ryan Stauffer, director of legislative affairs for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "Those jobs have an average salary of $82,000 on average which is a really good salary. This will hopefully help more students to find that career path."

However, Johannes Strobel, a professor at the University of Missouri who works with Integrated Stem Education, says that the bill could potentially not be of value if STEM education doesn't start at a young age.

"We know from research that an early high quality stem education makes for a lot of improvements throughout K-12 students throughout their development and career," said Strobel. "So if we would make more of an investment in early childhood and elementary school, research shows that it has a lot more impact on them than if we grab the students in high school."

One Jefferson City Public Schools parent says both her sons have been bringing home STEM homework throughout their time in JCPS. 

"My oldest, he had a lot of math and a lot of sciences," said Patricia Barnes. "Even right now with him [younger son] being in fifth grade he is bringing home a lot of math - I see a lot of math coming home." 

However another Jefferson City parent said that she hopes that the STEM workload will increase for her children.

"I don't think they do a lot of science. I think if they did more actual science experiments, it would be a lot more engaging," said Tabatha Bolton. "I have two older ones in middle school and they don’t really seem to do much neither." 

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