Gov. Parson Signs STEM Career Bill in St. Louis

HB3 encourages middle and high school students to pursue STEM courses.

Brett Blume
October 30, 2018 - 11:14 am

(KMOX/Brett Blume)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - During last month's special legislative session, Missouri lawmakers passed House Bill 3 (HB3), which deals with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

After receiving widespread bi-partisan support, the bill was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Mike Parson at the Grand Center Arts Academy.

The governor reported they're trying to fill an extremely wide gap.

"Right now, we have over 10,000 openings in just the STEM industry alone in Missouri," Parson said during the bill-signing ceremony. "Now, if you can just imagine trying to meet that demand with all of the other shortages we have in all the other arenas, it's a big deal."

Among other things, the measure allows Missouri high school students to substitute a math, science or practical arts unit of credit for a computer science course they need for graduation.

HB3 was sponsored by mid-Missouri state Rep. Travis Fitzwater, and he explained the thinking behind the bill that he spent the past three years pushing through the legislature.

"What we're seeing is we have a lack of these kids that have an interest in computer science, because we're not giving them a choice," he told KMOX. "High school is already intense for these kids, so giving them an option to substitute out of a math or science course is really crucial to ensuring that these kids are getting computer science training."

Fitzwater added that the bill allows for Missouri to better compete in the ever-expanding and competitive technology field by introducing students to a wide variety of STEM careers and technology.

HB3 will not only create a STEM awareness program for Missouri middle school students, it will expand course opportunities for high schoolers. It will also create a certification process for teachers, establish a fund for any future public and private financial support, and develop consistent curriculum standards. Those measures are designed to allow for high school computer science credits to count toward a math, science or practical arts credit needed for graduation. In addition, an online course intended to boost career awareness for STEM professions will be created.

Following today's signing by Parson, the new measure will go into effect for the 2019-20 school year.