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Brown, Fletcher and Rosen Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Advocating for JROTC STEM Programs

“JROTC can provide an extracurricular experience to those among this public service-oriented, highly diverse population of young Americans who demonstrate a penchant for [STEM].”

Washington, September 9, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Vice Chair and 30-year Army veteran Congressman Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) and Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) led 36 Members of Congress in a bipartisan letter to House and Senate Armed Services Committee leadership. As both chambers prepare for the conference committee process for the Fiscal Year (FY) 21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the signers advocate for the establishment of a grant program for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) units to be retained in the final bill.

The United States is expected to face a shortage of 3.4 million skilled technical workers by 2022.  A recent study found that less than half of K-12 students are getting any cyber-related education.  The Department of Homeland Security has appropriately recognized this shortage as a national security issue.

Included in the FY21 NDAA is the PROMOTES Act, introduced by Congressman Brown and Senator Rosen to provide grants for STEM education within JROTC. The legislation builds upon the Promoting STEM in JROTC Act of 2019, which was passed into law in the FY20 NDAA and included STEM education within the JROTC course of instruction, and complements the JROTC Cyber Training Act, introduced by Congresswoman Fletcher and Senator Rosen, aimed at preparing students in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) for careers in computer science and cybersecurity.

“For the United States to maintain its military and technological superiority over its adversaries, including China, effective and inclusive STEM education remains necessary,” the members wrote. “JROTC STEM education, computer science, and cybersecurity programs add yet another layer in preparing America’s youth for a better future and addressing the growing needs of our workforce.”

Joining this effort in the House of Representatives are Reps. Ami Bera (D-CA), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Andé Carson (D-IN), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Bill Foster (D-IL), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Connor Lamb (D-PA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Ben McAdams (D-UT), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Harley Rouda (D-CA), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Bennie Thompson (D- MS), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Norma Torres (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA) and Marc Veasey (D-TX).

Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Doug Jones (D-AL) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) also signed the letter.

Additional supporters of STEM education in JROTC include leading technology organizations: Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), Intel Corporation, Aerospace Industries Association, Amazon, Arizona Technology Council, BSA | The Software Alliance, Bootstrap, Code.org, CodeVA, The College Board, Computer Science Teachers Association, Computing Technology Industry Association, CSforALL, CS4Alabama, CSforCLE, CS4TX, Girl Scouts of the USA, Global Grid for Learning, International Society for Technology in Education, Internet Association, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Micron, Microsoft, National Math and Science Initiative, Navy League of the United States, ON Semiconductor, Rock Family of Companies, SAP, SciTech, Institute Semiconductor Industry Association, Start Engineering, TechNet, Technology Association of Oregon and ZT Systems.

Full letter is included below:

Dear Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Thornberry, Chairman Inhofe, and Ranking Member Reed:

As you work to finalize a conference agreement on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), we request that you retain language in the House bill authorizing the Secretary of Defense to establish a grant program for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) units. 

The United States is expected to face a shortage of 3.4 million skilled technical workers by 2022.  A recent study found that less than half of K-12 students are getting any cyber-related education.  The Department of Homeland Security has appropriately recognized this shortage as a national security issue.  To address this gap, the White House’s 2017 National Security Strategy commits to, “support[ing] apprenticeships and workforce development programs that prepare American workers for high-wage manufacturing and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs of the 21st century.” 

To support the goals of the National Security Strategy, JROTC can provide an extracurricular experience to those among this public service-oriented, highly diverse population of young Americans who demonstrate a penchant for computer science, cybersecurity, and related subjects. Recognizing the potential for engaging JROTC youth, the United States Air Force, in collaboration with industry and non-profit partners, has launched pilot programs that provide evidence-based computer science and cybersecurity education at schools serving JROTC youth. 

The FY 2020 NDAA amended Title 10 to include “instruction or activities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics” within JROTC. Building on this provision, Section 511 of the FY 2021 House NDAA authorizes the Secretary of Defense to issue grants to schools for JROTC STEM training and education. Activities include support for instructors; the acquisition of materials, hardware, and software; efforts and events that improve the quality of the educational experience; the development of travel opportunities, mentoring programs, and informal education; and the pursuit of certifications in STEM subjects. Section 511 also encourages interagency coordination and requires the Secretary of Defense to establish outcome-based metrics and internal and external assessments to evaluate the merits and benefits of activities funded.

For the United States to maintain its military and technological superiority over its adversaries, including China, effective and inclusive STEM education remains necessary. JROTC STEM education, computer science, and cybersecurity programs add yet another layer in preparing America’s youth for a better future and addressing the growing needs of our workforce. The undersigned members strongly urge you to retain Section 511 of the House bill in the final NDAA conference report. 

Thank you for your consideration of our request. We look forward to working with you throughout the conference process.

Sincerely,

Read the letter from industry leaders: here

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