Immigration bill may help fund STEM education


Jobs in science, technology, engineering and math are going unfilled due to the lack of trained workers. If congress passes the proposed legislation it could mean millions of dollars for STEM Education. Local educators say the additional funding could put more students on the path to STEM careers.

Lack of STEM education is apparent in a graduate Computer Science class at Fresno State, nearly all of the students were from foreign countries. The professor of the class said too few American students are choosing careers in the math and science fields. It is a national dilemma.

Fresno Unified is hoping the new Rutherford B. Gaston Middle School going up in Southwest Fresno will help put more students on the path to careers in science technology math and engineering.

" What we are hoping to do is provide the opportunity to peak the curiosity of young adults, children ages 12-14 as they come to middle school," said Gonzalez. "We want them to be thinking about possible career opportunities in the stem field, science, technology, engineering and mathematics"

The school is designed to support a STEM curriculum with larger classrooms and a presentation room where students will be required to present their completed projects. Many of those projects are in the Career Tech Program.

Under the immigration which just passed in the Senate and is now being considered in the House, STEM programs like the one soon to begin at Rutherford B. Gaston Middle School would get additional support. Some estimates show help in the form of an additional $200 million a year.

Dr. Chris Villa, Vice President of Student Services at Fresno City College says the funding could help boost STEM classes at community colleges. He believes getting more students into science and technology careers is critical if the U.S. is to compete globally.

According to the department of labor only 5 percent of U.S. workers are employed in STEM fields.

"What's happening now is that we have many folks who come from other countries who take positions that are focused on stem as a result we have many students from our own country who aren't filling those positions, " Villa said.

The senate bill will also allow more H-1b Visas, allowing companies to hire high skilled workers from overseas. Companies will pay higher fees for those visas and those funds will go toward STEM education.

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