To graduate high school in Montgomery County, high school students have to fulfill several graduation requirements, such as completing four years of English classes, volunteering for 75 hours, and taking two semesters of an art elective. Some of the most controversial requirements are the science and math requirements, which mandate that students have to take at least one math course for all four years, one science course for three years, and a technology course for one year. Though not everyone will pursue a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) career in the future or is interested in STEM in general, these requirements should stay because it is crucial that everyone receives a good education in STEM.
First of all, as long as Montgomery County is requiring students to take humanities classes, such as English and History, it is only fair that they also require student to take STEM classes. This way, it is ensured that students are well-rounded in all subjects and have a good understanding of their interests and strengths before they pursue a higher education. In addition, it can spark an unexpected interest in STEM for students who would have otherwise avoided STEM classes.
In addition, concepts covered in STEM classes often have real-world context. For example, an understanding of math will help with calculations and taxes while an understanding of engineering will help students think more critically about problems and solutions. “We should require STEM classes. Most career fields involve technology in some way or another, so STEM classes will better prepare students for their future. It’s similar to how English is a required class,” said Richard Montgomery sophomore Angela Mu. These are all crucial skills in one’s adult life and preparing students for the future is one of school’s main purposes.
By the same token, innovations in science and technology are necessary to help society. “The world and many systems around us depend on the advancements in technology, whether it’s in the industry or in medical procedures,” Mu said. Improvements in engineering and technology can save and ease hundred of lives around the world.
There is also a growing demand for jobs in the STEM field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM occupations are growing at a faster rate compared to other occupations. According to Muhammed Chaudhry, the CEO of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, California has more than 75,000 computer science job openings, only 4,324 computer science graduates on hand to take them, which means less than six percent the computer science demand is being fulfilled. Computer programmers also have a median annual wage of $76,140, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is over double the median for all careers, $35,080. Investing in a computer science degree will help high school students achieve a better future, and Montgomery County facilitates that through their technology credit requirement.
STEM class requirements will also assist in decreasing the racial and gender gaps in STEM careers. According to the New York Times, women only consist of 26 percent of the STEM field, hispanics only consist of 7 percent, and blacks only consist of 6 percent.
STEM education does not only affect STEM students; it affects students who go on to pursue all kinds of careers. In politics, there are still debates over climate change’s existence, and Senator Jim Inhofe once brought a snowball to the Senate floor to “disprove climate change”. STEM education has greatly impacts all areas of life and it is crucial that the next generation of thinkers and innovators receive the STEM education they need to advance society as a whole.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Ashley Ye of Richard Montgomery High School