From the September / October 2023 Issue
The Data Science and Literacy Act is proposed legislation to increase access to data science education, reduce course equity gaps for all students, and help build America’s 21st century STEM workforce. The bill was introduced in February 2023 by Reps. Haley Stevens, D-Mich.; Don Beyer, D-Va.; Young Kim, R-Calif.; and Jim Baird, R-Ind.
“Data education is integral to bolstering our global competitiveness, unlocking good-paying jobs, and fostering a well-informed society.”
— Rep. Haley Stevens
“To compete in a 21st-century economy, we need a 21st-century STEM workforce that reflects the diversity that makes the United States the greatest nation on earth,” Rep. Stevens said. “Ever since Michigan’s 11th District sent me to Congress, I have been laser-focused on increasing access to STEM education for more young women and low-income communities. The Data Science and Literacy Act is a critical part of that mission. Data touches everything we do. Data education is integral to bolstering our global competitiveness, unlocking good-paying jobs, and fostering a well-informed society. I am proud to introduce this legislation that helps ensure, no matter their background or zip code, that all students are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to prepare them for a career in the STEM fields.”
“We live in a world full of data – from the logistics information collected to streamline supply chain operations, to the tracking done by the public health industry to halt the spread of diseases, to the data collected by our smartphones about our everyday lives. As the use of data to optimize operations across industries increases, so does the demand for data literacy in America’s workforce,” Rep. Beyer said. “Our bill would provide educators with the resources necessary to expand access to a quality data science education and prepare students for 21st century jobs.”
“STEM education expands opportunities for students, grows our economy, strengthens our workforce across industries and boosts our nation’s global competitiveness,” Rep. Kim said. “The Data Science and Literacy Act will equip educational institutions with the tools they need to teach students of all ages and across all regions of the country the skills needed to get good-paying jobs and help our nation win the future. I will always support opportunities for students to access a quality education and achieve their dream.”
“As world leaders in technological advancement, it’s essential that we create programs that increase access to data science and literacy education so students from an early age can earn a well-rounded STEM education,” Rep. Baird said. “Improved access to these tools is essential for building tomorrow’s workforce, and I look forward to working with Congresswoman Stevens to get this bipartisan investment in STEM education across the finish line.”
“Statistics and data science are fundamental to production, innovation, and discovery, so there is a high demand for a workforce with statistics and data science skills,” said Katherine B. Ensor, 2022 President, American Statistical Association. “Everyone receives data-driven information and faces data-driven decisions daily. The Stevens-Baird-Beyer-Kim Data Science and Literacy Act brings attention to the tremendous job opportunities for data-savvy students. It helps schools provide statistics and data science education that meets workforce and society demands and prepares future researchers.”
“Ensuring that data literacy is a foundational aspect of education is a cornerstone of the United States’ long-term economic and national security. Data is everywhere, and the ideas and demands to create more of it, and the evermore complex ways to deploy it, are growing more significant by the day,” said Jeff Cohen, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, INFORMS. “This bill is a key part of addressing the substantial shortfall of STEM-prepared students for the workforce of tomorrow. Operations Research, analytics, and the science and technology of decision making are predicated on the sound and ethical use of data. INFORMS strongly supports the bi-partisan Data Science and Literacy Act of 2023 and looks forward to working to ensure its passage and effective implementation.”
“Investing in K-16 data science will guarantee our global competitiveness, national security, and leadership in the new knowledge economy.”
— Zarek Drozda, Director,
Data Science 4 Everyone
“U.S. education is facing a perfect storm. Students are struggling to regain lost time from pandemic disruptions while data-driven technologies, like artificial intelligence and machine learning, are quickly changing the basic skills and knowledge needed to succeed,” said Zarek Drozda, Director, Data Science 4 Everyone. “Congressional leadership will be paramount to ensuring the next generation can build the digital and physical world rather than simply respond to it. Investing in K-16 data science will guarantee our global competitiveness, national security, and leadership in the new knowledge economy. The Stevens-Baird-Beyer-Kim Data Science and Literacy Act will be a critical step forward for preparing all students to leap into the future already here.”
The Data Science and Literacy Act of 2023 supports a voluntary program at the Department of Education through which educational entities (from elementary to two- and four-year colleges) can apply for funding to increase access to data science and literacy education. Specifically, grant funding can be used for the following:
- Preparing and supporting teachers to develop students’ ability to make sense of data and implement it in problem-solving.
- Development of data literacy, data science, and statistics curricula.
- Expanding access to support and high-quality learning materials.
- Creating plans for expanding overall access to and support within rigorous STEM classes and reducing course equity gaps for all students.
- Ensuring additional support and resources for students from populations traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.
- Providing evidence-based professional development for current data science and statistics educators, or training for current educators seeking to transition into data science education.
Arkansas: Meeting The Future Of Work
The state of Arkansas is building a talent pipeline today to meet tomorrow’s demands. As technology continues to evolve and impact every industry sector, it is imperative that companies have a workforce skilled in the latest advances. Arkansas is rising to the top as a national leader in developing a tech-based workforce as the state collaborates with business, industry, and education to meet these demands.
Arkansas is rising to the top as a national leader in developing a tech-based workforce as the state collaborates with business, industry, and education to meet these demands.
It starts in Arkansas’ schools where middle schoolers learn to code and high-school students are required to earn at least one credit in a computer science class before graduating. The goal is to prepare students not just for college, but also for the skills they need in the workforce.
Homegrown tech company Apptegy announced in early 2023 that it would add more than 300 jobs to its current 400-member workforce in Arkansas. After launching in 2015, Apptegy quickly became one of the fastest-growing education technology companies in the country. Today, the company works with more than 3,000 school districts across the U.S. and recently partnered with its first two international schools. Apptegy began operations in Arkansas with the Venture Center as the first tenant at the Little Rock Technology Park, and quickly outgrew the space. Today, the company “gives back” by partnering with the Venture Center to nurture and encourage the next class of tech entrepreneurs.
When global cybersecurity provider Sequretek announced the opening of its U.S. headquarters in the Little Rock Technology Park, the company attributed the innovative technology focus, talent access, and growth-friendly business environment as top reasons for selecting Arkansas.
And when SupplyPike, a start-up that offers a digital supply chain management platform for consumer-packaged goods, announced it would begin operations with 180 jobs, Fayetteville was the new company’s ideal location. SupplyPike first served as the research and development wing within CaseStack, a private equity-backed, cloud-based logistics company also operating in Fayetteville.
Other tech companies finding success in The Natural State include First Orion, Acxiom, IPG, FIS, Genpact, Inuvo, Metova, Arkana Labs, and Zebra Technologies.
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Even companies that are not traditional “tech companies” are finding themselves in need of skilled talent.
Walmart and Tyson Foods, both founded and headquartered in Arkansas, are great examples of companies in non-tech industries that employ hundreds of tech workers. Walmart’s Spatialand, a v-commerce startup, introduced its first virtual reality experience in partnership with DreamWorks Animation. Tyson Foods’ venture fund focuses on investing in entrepreneurial food businesses, products, and technology to keep its business—and Arkansas—at the forefront of tech trends in the food and beverage industry.
While the state’s resources and business climate attract companies, outdoor opportunities are increasingly attracting workers, and Arkansas has always been a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Biking and hiking trails, lakes and rivers, and duck and deer make The Natural State a magnet for tech talent.
Arkansas has consistently lowered taxes during each fiscal legislative session and has removed bureaucratic red tape to make Arkansas more competitive.
Visit www.ArkansasEDC.com for more information.