March 27, 2014

Mayor Emanuel Announces City-Wide Strategy to Increase Access to a High-Quality, Cradle-to-Career Stem Education Pipeline for Students

Citywide STEM Strategy Seeks to Triple the Number of Students with STEM Credentials by 2018

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today a city-wide strategy to increase Chicago students’ access to high-quality STEM learning experiences from early childhood through college and career. The city-wide strategy will strategically bring together and direct educational, corporate, and philanthropic resources toward the shared goal of increasing STEM opportunities for Chicago students. With the support of multiple sectors, the strategy seeks to triple the number of Chicago students earning STEM credentials by 2018.

“By increasing access to a high-quality STEM education, we are providing our children with the tools they need to get a solid footing on the economic ladder, innovate new technology, and make new scientific breakthroughs that will define the future of our City,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Our goal as a City is for every child to be 100% college ready and 100% college bound, so that we prepare our children with the academic foundation and skills to be the next leaders in the 21st century highly-specialized, technical economy.”

As the first part in this STEM expansion, the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) has committed to train 1,000 STEM teachers over the next five years. MSI set a goal that two-thirds of these participating teachers would be from CPS schools.

“I would like to thank the Museum of Science and Industry for partnering with the City as we expand access to STEM education for Chicago’s teachers and students,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Partnerships like this reflect the numerous opportunities available to help support our teachers while creating a cradle-to-career STEM road map for students by leveraging our City’s world-class, civically-engaged cultural institutions, businesses, universities, and non-profits.”

The Museum offers courses at no cost and will pay for substitute teachers for sessions held on school days. Based on STEM education best practices, MSI’s professional development courses provide teachers with background and skills to lead interactive lesson plans while also providing student worksheets, discussion forums, and kits of materials to conduct classroom science activities for all students.

“Science can be complex, challenging and oftentimes intimidating for students, parents, and teachers,” said Museum of Science and Industry President David Mosena. “It is critical during the middle years of schooling to make science more engaging through hands-on, inquiry-based teaching to foster a strong interest in science. As champions of science and learning, we are using our content expertise, proven teaching strategies and world-class exhibits to improve science education in schools.”

MSI’s partnership with the City is part of a larger strategy to leverage the expertise, talent and resources of the City’s cultural institutions, colleges and universities, businesses and non-profits.

The strategy outlines three key priority areas for external stakeholders to intervene and improve when participating in the City’s STEM strategy:

  •  Teacher capacity to deliver STEM curriculum and principals to lead STEM schools: Improve teachers’ access to high-quality resources and professional development for teaching STEM subjects, enhance the pipeline of STEM teachers coming to Chicago, and improve principals’ capacity to lead STEM-focused schools
  • STEM academic readiness: Ensure more students are taking the courses that drive success in post-secondary STEM programs and have the supports to do well in those courses such as dual credit/enrollment, and IB courses.
  • STEM career readiness: Provide students with the specialized knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a STEM career including access to internships, work-based learning, and real-world application of STEM subjects.

Over 150 local experts helped develop the strategy and will continue to be engaged throughout its implementation. Organizations participating in the development of the plan include over fifteen local colleges and universities, over twenty non-profit youth-serving organizations, museums and cultural institutions and several foundations and workforce development partners.

This City-wide strategy intends to direct resources to the most strategic interventions and to build upon and provide additional support for existing City, CPS, and CCC programs including:

  • Five Early College STEM schools that have been paired with corporate partners that provide mentors, internships, and feedback on the curriculum to teach skills that would be valuable at their companies.
  • The most comprehensive K-12 computer science education plan in a major school district, which includes creating a pipeline for foundational computer science skills in elementary schools, offering at least one computer science class at every high school, and elevating computer science to a core subject.
  • City of Learning, a connected learning initiative that builds on Chicago Summer of Learning to incorporate hundreds of partner sites and organizations throughout the city to make Chicago a place of year-round learning in and out of the classroom. Students earn digital badges from participating organizations to track their new skills, knowledge, and experiences across diverse STEAM learning opportunities.
  • The City Colleges of Chicago’s College to Careers program, which provides industry-endorsed courses in high-growth industries to prepare students with relevant information to help them get and thrive in a competitive job.

# # #