01/15/14 In an attempt to develop workforce readiness skills on behalf of local students and in partnership with Marshall County Schools and area businesses, the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation announces its support for Project Lead the Way. PLTW is a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curriculum that has been touted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education as a model for 21st century career and technical education. The model includes an activity- project-and problem-based curriculum for students, with high-quality teacher professional development.
At a recent meeting, the MCEDC Board of Directors approved the dedication of $30,000 spread equally over a three-year period in support of a matching grant opportunity offered to Marshall County Schools by PLTW. Matching PLTW grants currently are being offered to all area schools in Marshall, Fulton, Kosciusko, St. Joseph, and Elkhart counties. Should Marshall County Schools participate, they jointly must provide a matching grant total equal to $270,000. Once approved, a school has three years to implement the PLTW curriculum.
PLTW is so important and highly thought of that some major corporations, such as Toyota, will not consider the creation of a new plant in a particular community unless the local school offers PLTW courses to its students. Chevron has committed $6 million to PLTW. Currently, more than 5,200 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer PLTW courses to more than 600,000 students. U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, labels PLTW as one of the “great models of career and technical education succeeding all across the country”.
The United States Department of Commerce reports that by 2018, STEM-related jobs in the United States will grow by 17 percent, nearly double the rate of job growth in non-STEM fields. The report also estimates 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs by 2018, due to a lack of qualified, trained workers. According to PLTW, STEM education is at the heart of today’s high-tech, high-skill global economy. For America to remain economically competitive, our next generation of leaders — the students of today — must develop the critical-reasoning and problem-solving skills that will help make them the most productive in the world.