Wicker, Colleagues Reintroduce Bipartisan Rural STEM Education Act

April 27, 2021

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Sens. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., today reintroduced the Rural STEM Education Act to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and training access in rural communities.

“As employment opportunities in STEM fields increase, it is critical that we provide rural schools the resources necessary to offer quality STEM education and prepare students for today’s workforce,” Wicker said. “I am glad to join my colleagues in leading this effort, and I look forward to seeing our bill advance.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the need to address the lack of resources available to our rural communities--especially when it comes to technology,”  Rosen said. “I’m proud to introduce this important piece of legislation that will support research and development activities to better understand the challenges rural communities are facing in providing quality STEM education programs. I will continue working on forward-thinking legislation to give our students the education and training they need to succeed in a 21st century economy.”

“Texas has a booming science and technology sector. Unfortunately, students who lack access to high-quality STEM educations may have less opportunities in these fields,” Cornyn said. “This legislation would help ensure that students in rural areas can access the same STEM resources as their urban peers to prepare them for high-skilled, high-wage science and technology-related jobs.”

“New Hampshire’s innovative businesses want to hire workers with a background in STEM, but this can be difficult when so many Granite Staters in rural communities do not have the technology that they need to receive a STEM education and compete for those jobs,” Hassan said. “This bipartisan bill would take steps to improve rural broadband, which will help more Granite Staters access the kind of STEM education and job-training that will prepare them for success in the 21st century economy.”  

The Rural STEM Education Act would:

  • Direct the Secretary of Commerce to establish a prize competition to encourage innovative ideas to deploy broadband connectivity to rural communities;
  • Instruct the National Science Foundation (NSF) Director to establish a working group to address research challenges and opportunities for improving broadband access. The working group would be required to report their findings to Congress;
  • Direct NSF Director to provide grants to support training for STEM teachers in rural schools, conduct research to identify barriers rural students face in STEM education, and establish partnerships between community colleges and rural high schools. The funds would assist the improvement of online STEM education and hands-on training at rural schools; and
  • Direct the NSF Director and the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate federal programming for rural STEM education and make recommendations for ways in which it can be improved.

Click here to read the bill.