Across America, schools are facing a shortage of STEM teachers. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The shortage of educators available to teach these important subjects to our nation’s children is costing us future Einsteins.
The Problem is Worse in Lower Income Areas
The lack of access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is a especially problem in schools where incomes are lower. It is much less common for a child to become an inventor when they come from a lower-income household. It’s also less common for a woman to become an inventor. In fact, males make up 82% of today’s inventors.
Along with the income and gender gaps, there’s also an obvious race gap as well. Black children are three times less likely to become inventors than white children. And while it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why these gaps occur, access to STEM education is definitely part of the problem.
Some people might think that these gaps are indicative of a gap in abilities or intelligence, but studies have found that to be false. Studies have looked at the differences between test scores in early childhood and found that they do not account for the gaps. Instead, the biggest difference is found in access to STEM education.
The STEM teacher shortage makes it nearly impossible for students to have equal access to education. As a result, we will likely miss out on future innovations and breakthroughs that will put us behind other countries. Statistically, America is already not experiencing the number of breakthrough innovations that it should. And the problem only seems to be getting worse.
Imagine a World Without Einstein
It’s crazy to think about what our world would be like if Albert Einstein hadn’t been part of it. His theories helped us to understand the universe we live in and his discoveries led to several inventions, such as lasers, GPS, and barcodes. We probably still wouldn’t know about black holes or understand the relationship between energy and matter if it wasn’t for Einstein.
There are already students in schools who could someday bring the world similar breakthroughs. However, if they don’t have access to the education necessary, we will all miss out.
Fixing the Problem
Of course, the solution to the problem isn’t simple. School districts across the country report having trouble hiring new STEM teachers. This problem needs to be addressed with urgency, most likely on state and federal levels. If we don’t do something soon, future generations may lose out not only Einsteins, but also thousands other geniuses who could have changed the world too— if only they were given the chance.