Whether it’s STEM, as in Massachusetts, or STEAM, popularized in Rhode Island, the goal of both educational acronyms and states is the same: build a more capable workforce.
A summit planned next month at Salve Regina University will bring together proponents of both to share best practices in preparing students to excel in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. But as an article on Page 1 reports, there’s a growing recognition among Rhode Island groups that their Bay State neighbors are further along in building a system that can consistently funnel students to job opportunities.
What does Massachusetts have that Rhode Island doesn’t? Start with a statewide plan, built around science, technology, engineering and math programming. Then add dedicated state funding. Both have helped create a strong sense of collaboration among invested groups.
Rhode Island has both STEM and STEAM (the latter adding the arts) programs and proponents, but lacks both dedicated state funding and a coordinated plan focused on statewide results.
As David Cedrone, an associate commissioner with the Mass. Department of Higher Education, notes, the acronym each state follows is less important than the priorities they stand for.
“We think in terms of innovation,” he said. And whether it’s STEM or STEAM, that’s a focus that will create results. •