By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday announced the creation of the Alabama STEM Council to improve science, technology, engineering and math-related education, career awareness and workforce development opportunities.
The council, created through an executive order, has 46 members who will advise state leadership on ways to improve Alabama’s education system in order to promote STEM careers and support current and future businesses.
“Alabama has continued to grow into an advanced manufacturing, aerospace engineering and cybertechnology center of excellence and as a result, the demand for qualified labor in these sectors has skyrocketed,” Ivey said in a statement. “The Alabama STEM Council will play a vital role in ensuring that our state’s future leaders have the opportunity to learn STEM-based skills that will help them transition into successful career pathways upon graduation.”
The creation of the STEM council was proposed during this year’s regular legislative session in House Bill 293, sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur. It passed the House unanimously but was prevented from moving on to the Senate because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collins, who chairs the House Education Policy Committee, said she worked with Ivey’s office to make sure the executive order aligned with her legislation.
“I just felt like we needed this in place and we did not need to wait one more year,” Collins said.
The executive order lists multiple duties for the council, including evaluating current STEM-related programs that are already funded by the state.
“I think of them as quality control, that kind of drives progress in these STEM-related academics, so that we are reaching for the stars and so we’re keeping our education standards and goals at a level where we’re going to be able to meet our workforce needs,” Collins said.
Those programs include the Alabama Mathematics, Science and Technology Imitative and the Alabama Science in Motion program.
Ivey’s Advisory Council on Excellence in STEM, created in 2018, released its “Roadmap to STEM Success” plan in 2019 which included the creation of this independent council.
Neil Lamb, vice president for educational outreach at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, is chairman of the council. Lamb was also part of the advisory council and said this new group is a great start to making its recommendations a reality.
“Our great state is home to several quality STEM-focused education and workforce initiatives,” Lamb said. “However, we lack a common system to weave these initiatives together into a network that reaches all learners across the state and expands the workforce pipeline.”
The Education Trust Fund budget for fiscal year 2021 included $200,000 for the new council.
Alabama has historically done poorly on national math standards evaluations. Last year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress ranked Alabama last in the nation for both fourth and eighth grade math.
The council will hold an initial organizational meeting in the next 90 days.
Other members of the council include:
- Charles Nash, University of Alabama System
- Terry Burkle, Baldwin County Education Foundation
- Dawn Morrison, Alabama State Department of Education
- Charisse Stokes, Montgomery Chamber of Commerce
- Vicky Karolewics, president, Wallace State Community College
- Sheila Holt, AMSTI director, University of Alabama in Huntsville
- Liz Huntley, Lightfoot, Franklin & White
- RaSheda Workman, Stillman College
- Eric Mackey, state superintendent of education
- Barbara Cooper, secretary, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education
- Jimmy Baker, chancellor, Alabama Community College System
- Jim Purcell, executive director, Alabama Commission on Higher Education
- Fitzgerald Washington, secretary, Alabama Department of Labor
- Greg Canfield, secretary, Alabama Department of Commerce
- Tim McCartney, chairman, Alabama Workforce Council
- George Clark, president, Manufacture Alabama
- Ken Tucker, president, University of West Alabama
- Kathryn Lanier, STEM education outreach director, Southern Research
- Tina Miller-Way, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
- Amy Templeton, president and CEO, McWane Science Center
- Kay Taylor, director of education, U.S. Space and Rocket Center
- Mary Lou Ewald, director of outreach, Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics
- Paul Morin, Alabama SMART Foundation
- Adreinne Starks, founder and CEO, STREAM Innovations
- Calvin Briggs, founder and director, Southern Center for Broadening Participation in STEM
- Josh Laney, director, Alabama Office of Apprenticeship
- Keith Phillips, executive director, Alabama Technology Network
- Jimmy Hull, career and technical education director, Alabama State Department of Education
- Sean Stevens, career coach, Alabama State Department of Education
- Tina Watts, community investor, The Boeing Company
- Daryl Taylor, vice president and general manager, Airbus America
- Jimmy Parnell, president, Alabama Farmers Federation
- Susan Currie, stakeholder relations specialist, NASA
- Ronald Davis, president, Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association
- K-Rob Thomas, power delivery general manager, Alabama Power
- Lee Meadows, associate professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Tim Wick, senior associate dean, School of Engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Robin McGill, director of instruction, Alabama Commission on Higher Education
- Elisabeth Davis, assistant superintendent of the Division of Teaching and Learning, Alabama State Board of Education
- Jeff Gray, professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Alabama
- Cynthia McCarty, District 6 representative, Alabama State Board of Education
- Andre Harrison, vice president, Cognia
- Brenda Terry, executive director, Alabama Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Engineering Coalition for Education
- Tammy Dunn, program director, A+ Education Partnership