Bertram, Gov. Jay Nixon Headline Missouri State Conference

In front of a crowd of nearly 1,000 educators, school administrators, and community and business leaders on Friday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called Project Lead The Way “a game changer” for the state. He talked about the importance of the PLTW curriculum in preparing students for the jobs that will drive Missouri’s economy, and then he announced his plan for growing PLTW across the state: a budget proposal that will provide matching grants to elementary schools that wish to implement PLTW Launch programs. [read additional coverage]

“We are very proud Missouri has more computer science programs than any other state. But not enough schools are using Project Lead The Way at the elementary level, and we need to ramp that up dramatically. So, we put in our budget matching grants for schools with a target of taking us from 34 schools that have PLTW [Launch], to one year from now, having 350.”

Gov. Nixon also lauded PLTW’s professional development model and thanked PLTW teachers for their commitment to professional development and their work.

“It’s easier to settle for low expectations than it is to strive to higher goals; it’s easier to find fault with teachers than it is to inspire students to learn; it’s easier to criticize our schools than it is to work to improve them. There are a whole lot of folks out there that want to criticize and undermine, but this doesn’t solve any problems. You are solving problems, getting up early to be here. Ours is the harder task. To prove this is important and to execute it. So I really, really want to thank you.”

Gov. Nixon then introduced PLTW President and CEO Dr. Vince Bertram, who called Missouri a national leader in the effort to prepare students for successful careers.

“I’m proud to be a colleague of each of you, to share in this excitement and the work you’re doing across the state.”

He talked about the national skills crisis America is facing – over 4 million job vacancies but yet 8 million people who are unemployed and more who are underemployed because they do not have the skills. According to national assessments of America’s 12th-graders, forty percent of those entering the workforce and of age to vote or join the military, cannot perform basic mathematics.

“It is a crisis, and it is imperiling our states and nation’s economy and economic prosperity.”

He thanked the teachers, administrators, and partners who are helping students develop skills that they will use for a lifetime.

“As the governor said, it’s easy to stand on the sideline and criticize. Our children don’t need people to sit on the sideline. They don’t need people standing on the sidelines, standing idle. They need people who are willing to take action. That’s what you’re doing. Helping them understand the relevancy of math and science, demystifying these subjects…That’s what’s going to inspire our children, and inspire our nation.”

This week, Vince travels to Sacramento for the California PLTW State Conference, and then the Texas State Conference in Corpus Christi on Monday, Feb. 24. With 500 and 600 attendees registered, respectively, California and Texas are two of the larger state conferences in the U.S. Vince has been invited to deliver keynote addresses at both conferences.

Stay up to date with Vince’s travels and the latest in education and workforce development news by following him on Twitter at @VinceBertram.