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Farina, Lancman announced $3.2m STEM initiative

By Madina Toure

City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced a new, $3.2 million initiative that will enhance science, engineering, technology and math instruction.

The initiative, funded by the GE Foundation, will support a CTE (Career and Technical Education) pilot program to bolster teaching and learning practices at 10 schools and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) training for up to 200 schools through multi-day STEM Institutes.

The initiative was unveiled at the Thomas Edison Career and Technical Education High School at 165-65 84th Ave. in Jamaica.

“Rigorous CTE and STEM programs have a tremendous ability to engage our students and prepare them for success in college and careers,” Fariña said. “It’s so critical to have industry and higher education partners on board for this important work.”

Lancman said the initiative will ensure students are prepared not only academically but that they have the skills needed to succeed in corporate America and the workplace.

He noted a robotics class at Edison in which the students were learning the engineering, physics and mechanics of robotics as an example of skills that can be transferred to other disciplines.

“There was a period of time when the CTE schools were referred to as vocational schools and they were perceived as third tier schools for kids who didn’t have the academic medal to go on to college,” he said. “But there’s been a reorientation in the way that CTE schools are viewed and Edison is really a perfect example.”

Schools participating in the CTE pilot program will work with higher education and industry partners to determine sequential skills for their CTE program. The program centers on professional development as well as curriculum and assessment materials to match such skills.

CTE schools, programs and schools interested in creating a CTE program will undergo a competitive process this fall. Selected schools will start implementing the program later in the 2015-16 school year.

The GE Foundation’s STEM investment starts with funding for the DOE’s first-ever three-day citywide STEM Institute in April.

At the STEM Institute, teachers and school leaders will have professional learning opportunities and work with STEM partner organizations. Nearly 300 teachers and school leaders representing 100 schools are expected to attend the institute.

The first cohort will participate in two additional STEM institutes this summer and in the spring of 2016 be joined by up to an additional 100 schools.

In addition to the six Renewal Schools from the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn participating in this spring’s institute, Renewal schools will be encouraged to take part in the upcoming STEM Institutes to enhance STEM instruction.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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