(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patrick Diegnan, Pamela Lampitt and Marlene Caride to create a task force that would be charged with recommending how to incorporate engineering into the K-12 science curriculum was recently approved by the full Assembly.
“STEM jobs are on the rise, but our colleges are not graduating enough engineering majors to keep up with the demand. If we want to compete in an increasingly global economy, we have to expand engineering education,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Early introduction can encourage more students, especially women and minorities who are under represented in this field, to consider engineering as a career. The task force created by this bill would rely on the expertise of professionals in education, engineering and science to tell us how to best introduce engineering into the school curriculum.”
The bill (A-1468) would establish a Task Force on Engineering Curriculum and Instruction in the Department of Education. The task force would be charged with making recommendations to the State Board of Education on how to incorporate engineering curriculum into the K-12 science curriculum. Under the bill, the task force must review the Next Generation Science Standards in its efforts to develop innovative ways to teach engineering to public school students. These new K-12 science standards are being developed through a collaborative, state-led process. The standards, which will provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education, will be based on the Framework for K-12 Science Education developed by the National Research Council.
“While the demand for engineering talent is expected to grow, the number of young workers in the field has decreased. As workers in the field approach retirement age, this need will become more dire,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “It is difficult to get students excited about something they know little about. If we are going to meet this growing demand and get young people thinking about engineering as a career, then we have to consider making it part of their curriculum.”
“Despite growing job demands, women and minorities are still largely underrepresented in the engineering profession,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Making engineering part of the science curriculum can help spark an interest and cultivate untapped talent among these groups. STEM jobs are among the highest paying and fastest growing. Considering the benefits to our students and our economic future, it is critical that we look into expanding the curriculum to include engineering.”
The task force would consist of ten members, including the Commissioner of Education, and nine public members appointed by the Governor as follows: one representative each from the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Education Association, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association and the New Jersey Parent Teacher Association; a representative of an engineering program at a public institution of higher education; a representative of an engineering program at an independent institution of higher education; a representative of a nonprofit organization that provides science education programming in the public schools; and two representatives from New Jersey-based engineering, science, and technology businesses.
The bill requires the task force to issue a final report of its findings and recommendations, including any recommended legislation, to the governor, the State Board of Education, and the Legislature no later than one year after its organizational meeting. The task force will expire 30 days after the submission of its report.
The bill was approved 75-0-1 on March 9 and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.