Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: April 29, 2014
Sen. Ron Sharp
Governor signs STEM legislation
On Monday, the governor signed into law legislation
to address Oklahoma’s shortage of qualified workers in the
fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Senate Bill 1181, by Sen.
Ron Sharp and Rep. Justin Wood, provides criteria for designation
as a STEM community or region. This was one of the recommendations
made last year by the governor’s Science and Technology Council,
a group focused on enhancing workforce development through the strengthening
of STEM education programs at K-12 and college levels.
“STEM education in our schools is so important to the future
of our state. We must have a well-educated workforce that can meet
the demands of Oklahoma businesses especially in the fields of science,
technology, engineering and mathematics, which are in such high
demand in our state,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “This program
will help get our community and business leaders around the state
more involved in the education of our students and help set them
on a path to success. I want to thank Rep. Wood and the legislature
for their support of this important education initiative.”
In order to be designated as a STEM Community or Region, educators,
administrators, business leaders, students, parents, government
officials and business and industry groups within a community or
region will be required to create awareness, promote partnerships
between schools and industries, develop and execute action plans
for improving STEM education and training as well as identify and
acquire the needed resources to improve STEM education and training.
These entities will also need to identify and accumulate STEM data
within the community or region, including but not limited to kindergarten
through 12th grade test results, the number of STEM-related degree
holders in the local workforce, the number of STEM-related degrees
conferred and the number of STEM-related certifications or credentials
“Our youth are our state’s greatest asset as they’re
our future workforce. However, we’re currently having to recruit
workers from other states, so it’s imperative that we prepare
our own students for the high demand, high paying jobs we have in
the STEM fields,” said Wood, R-Shawnee. “This program
will also ensure that local business and community leaders play
a bigger role in the education of our students rather than bureaucrats
The concept of creating a STEM Community or Region is incorporated
in the Department of Education’s STEM strategy and will include
and support STEM programs in many of the Department of Career and
Technology Education’s technology centers.
State legislators will be responsible for the application process
for STEM Communities or Regions and the governor will be responsible
for final approval and designation.
The application process will be outlined by a subcommittee of an
existing STEM education or workforce committee or board, to be identified
by the governor. The Coalition for the Advancement of Science and
Mathematics Education in Oklahoma (CASMEO) will be responsible for
the creation, sustainment and execution of that subcommittee, which
will be tasked with establishing the criteria for the application
process. The subcommittee will also study issues related to the
promotion and growth of STEM education and training in the state
and make recommendations to address the current and pending shortage
of highly skilled employees in the energy, agriculture and biosciences,
aerospace and defense, transportation and distribution, information
technology and financial services sectors in Oklahoma.
The bill was crafted with the help of Marty Lewis, Administrator
of Gordon Cooper Vo-Tech; Dr. Robert Sommers, state director of
the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education; Dr.
Terry Underwood, Administrator of the Eastern Oklahoma County Vo-Tech;
and Dr. Stephen McKeever, Cabinet Secretary of Science and Technology.
SB 1181 will go into effect July 1, 2014.
For more information, contact:
Sen. Sharp: (405) 521-5539