by Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink
Advocacy is an important aspect of any communications program, be it for a small mom and pop store, non-profit or a large multi-national corporation. It is also one of the least utilized tools in the communication arsenal.
John Clemons, ABC, APR, the former interim executive director of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), is challenging his communication colleagues to become more involved, both at a corporate and personal level, in becoming advocates for causes they feel can be life-changing.
The Washington, D.C. communications consultant has turned his personal attention to the issue of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and has created a petition on www.change.org for the creation of a National STEM Day.
“Because I care deeply about this very important issue. I’m trying to collect 100 signatures, and I could really use the help of all Americans to get the petition signed,” explained Clemons.
Current research in project-based learning demonstrates that STEM projects can increase student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math because they involve students in solving authentic problems, working with others, and building real solutions. Research has shown that students learn best when encouraged to construct their own knowledge of the world around them.
Proponents of STEM education support broadening the study of engineering within each of the other subjects, and beginning engineering at younger grades, even elementary school. It also brings STEM education to all students rather than only the gifted programs.
In his 2012 Budget, President Obama renamed and broadened the “Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP)” to award block grants to states for improving teacher education in those subjects.
The initiative began to address the perceived lack of qualified candidates for high-tech jobs. It also addresses concern that the subjects are often taught in isolation, instead of as an integrated curriculum. Maintaining a citizenry that is well versed in the STEM fields is a key portion of the public education agenda of the United States.
Clemons says the United States has lost its stature as the world’s leader in STEM education. “As our nation has evolved, youth are largely focused on sports and celebrity as opposed to science, technology, engineering and math education, which is the engine behind America’s growth and innovation in the years ahead.”
“President Barack Obama has focused on STEM but he can strengthen his support and the overall attention of the nation on STEM by putting a public stake in the ground,” he added.
By signing an official document, which launches and recognizes National STEM Day in our country, the President would help parents, students, schools, educators and the general public focus on and understand the importance of STEM education.
Clemons believes, “National STEM day would inform and create awareness, provide information, and encourage full engagement in these critical education areas. Stand up for STEM!”