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Introduction of the Stem Educator Awards Equity Act

Floor Speech

Date: Aug. 14, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SABLAN. Madam Speaker, today, I introduce the STEM Educator Awards Equity Act to ensure educators from the Northern Mariana Islands, Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa are represented in the annual Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.

Established by Congress in 1983, the Presidential Award is the highest recognition that an elementary or secondary school mathematics or science teacher may receive in the United States. Over 4,800 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.

Unlike the fifty States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Department of Defense schools, each of which may recognize a STEM educator, no more than two awards in total can go to teachers from the four insular areas: the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. This limitation has resulted in many years in which no teacher from one of those four areas is selected. No teacher from the Marianas, for instance, was selected this year. And this lack of recognition defeats the purpose of the program, which is to inspire excellence within each area and provide a role model for other local STEM educators to emulate. These statutory limits, also, unfairly deny deserving educators in the insular areas the national recognition and professional development opportunities we provide to STEM educators elsewhere in our nation.

My bill provides a more equitable process by requiring awards to at least one teacher from each of the four areas. By ensuring teachers from all parts of America are represented, more students and schools will benefit from the expert-led training programs and collaboration opportunities available to awardees during their visit to our nation's capital.

The gentlewoman from American Samoa, Mrs. Radewagen and the gentleman from Guam, Mr. San Nicolas, are original cosponsors of the bill.

I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation.

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