What’s being done?

There’s a disconnect somewhere. As I’ve monitored the ups and downs of science education over the past several years, I’ve seen quite a few programs meant to capture students’ interest in pursuing science as a career. Here’s a recent example: Girls Who Code Launches In Miami, Tries To Close STEM Gender Gap
Now, a national nonprofit called Girls Who Code is working to grow the next generation of STEM–science, technology, engineering and math–stars in South Florida. The organization is rolling out its computer science immersion program for the first time in Miami this summer.

One of the organization’s goals is to get more local residents into STEM. In the last decade, the number of jobs in STEM fields have tripled. STEM employees are less likely to get laid off, they earn higher wages and work more flexible schedules.
The annual Sunshine State Scholars program kicks off this evening in Orlando, honoring Florida high school juniors who’ve excelled in science. The program celebrates students with an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)  — and aims to encourage them to stay in Florida for college and beyond.
“We really want to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in a fun way,” Northwest Florida Regional Science Olympiad Director Paige Livermore said. “This is competitive, but it’s also fun.”

Parents and team coaches loved the event.

“It gets them more energized and excited about science,” said Penny Moore, the mother of Josh Moore and one of Avalon’s team coaches.

Jason’s mother, Michelle Barlow, chimed in: “It’s a wonderful opportunity to advance in science and math and make good contacts that could help them with scholarships and beyond.”
Programs and event like these have been going on for years and years. So, why do we then see this: When it comes to science, Florida lags the country
Despite a huge public investment aimed at creating a high-tech economy, Florida continues to lag the nation in many measures of scientific prowess, the National Science Foundation said Thursday.

The federal agency’s biannual National Science and Engineering Indicators study shows Florida trailing the nation in a variety of measures of education and investment. Floridians are less educated than Americans as a whole, and Florida companies are far less likely to attract venture capital.

In one telling statistic, Florida students earned fewer science and engineering degrees than their national counterparts over the past decade.
There is clearly desire and commitment on the “ground level” as local organizations, residents and teachers all try to do what they can. Unfortunately, there is only so much they can do. Higher up the food chain are the politicians who have control of funding and standards.
Public school teacher salaries: Florida’s average was $46,479 in 2011, well below the national average of $55,418.

School spending: Florida spent 3.21 percent of state gross domestic product on public schools in 2010, below the national average of 3.65 percent. Florida spent $8,863 per pupil in 2010, compared to a national average of $10,652.
A focus on “struggling students” in our public schools is admirable, but not when it means leaving other students without the extra support they need.
Bloody fights over Common Core don’t help.
Neglecting all science other than biology doesn’t help.
It’s frustrating. The term “STEM” is thrown around all the time in Tallahassee. There’s plenty of talk, but who is actually going to walk the walk? What’s being done to recruit the best science and math teachers? What’s being done to truly prepare high school students for rigorous college work in the sciences? What’s being done?
The “ground troops” want to win the war on behalf of science and the state’s students. But we don’t have a clear and workable battle plan from our “generals”.