Gov. Terry Branstad signed an executive order Tuesday creating a new advisory council designed to improve science and technology education in Iowa.
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who announced the creation of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Council, known by the acronym STEM, at an education summit earlier Tuesday, said the ultimate outcome will be to produce a better-educated workforce.
“It’s not enough for Iowa to become the top-performing education state again,” Reynolds said. “Our schools must be competitive with top-performing school systems around the world.”
Branstad said focusing on math and science meshes with the new demands on the workforce. He also said Iowa students have been lacking in those areas.
“We rank a little lower than the average of other states in terms of students taking the STEM courses today,” said Branstad. “That’s something we want to change. An increased focus in science, technology, engineering and math will lead to higher achievement and better career opportunities.”
Reynolds will serve as head of the panel, along with University of Northern Iowa president Ben Allen. Branstad said members of the panel will be named in the near future.
“We want to increase the performance and the number of math and science teachers,” said Allen.
Allen said another issue to be studied would be ways to link increased math and science programs with the state’s economic development efforts.
The council will include representatives from a variety of sectors, including advanced manufacturing, engineering, health care and agribusiness. Others will be appointed from the Legislature and state agencies.