Education Secretary Highlights Importance of Public Library for STEM Education

Education Secretary Highlights Importance of Public Library for STEM Education

HARRISBURG, PA — At the annual conference of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) on May 4, Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera thanked attendees for their dedication to students, outlined the role Pennsylvania’s public and school libraries play in preparing students for careers in the STEM fields, and explained how those contributions align to the Wolf Administration’s PAsmart initiative, which would advance STEM and computer science education in the Commonwealth.

“As secretary, I have toured dozens of schools across the state on Governor Wolf’ Schools That Teach tour; and a common stop on these tours is the school’s library,” Rivera said. “I’ve seen firsthand the innovative ways school librarians are approaching the changes to technology, career exploration, and ensuring students’ needs are met.”

Rivera added that school and public libraries, as well as skilled librarians provide useful resources to students and community members regarding career readiness and help Pennsylvanians of all ages prepare to meet the changing demands of the employers. He added that PAsmart aims to streamline the workforce initiatives among state agencies like Education, Labor and Industry and others.

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Deputy Secretary Glenn Miller, the head of the Office of Commonwealth Libraries (OCL) echoed Rivera’s sentiment, and noted a recent survey OCL conducted that indicated public libraries across the state are transforming their facilities to meet communities’ needs, including introducing STEM-inspired Makerspaces.

“Libraries have always been cornerstones of their respective communities,” Miller said. “As our communities change and evolve, libraries have continued to adapt to meet the needs of their local neighborhoods as well as expand their reach through the power of technology.

“STEM programs are growing in popularity in libraries around the state. They’re a great place to host Makerspaces and STEM events, because the whole family can engage in an education programs together.”

The State Library in Harrisburg hosts a Makerspace and offers regular public events, including an Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day event, as part of National Engineering Week 2018.

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Reports indicate that over the next decade, seven in 10 new jobs in Pennsylvania will require workers to use computers and new technologies, and businesses expanding in the Commonwealth will need these skilled workers.

To meet the growing demands for STEM education, Governor Tom Wolf introduced the PAsmart initiative in his 2018-19 budget proposal. Among its investments, PAsmart includes a $25 million boost in STEM and computer science education at all levels. It would also drive an expansion of apprenticeship and work-based programs, strengthen Career and Technical Education and STEM pathways, and encourage partnerships between employers and colleges and universities.

In addition to PAsmart, Governor Tom Wolf’s 2018-19 budget proposal includes an increase of $100 million for basic education funding, a $20 million increase for special education, and a more than $50 million increase for pre-K and early intervention services.

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For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website at www.education.pa.gov.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education

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