State Superintendent of Public Instruction and keynote speaker at the California STEM Summit Tom Torlakson announced yesterday at the conference that the NBA’s all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul Jabbar will be a California After-School STEM Ambassador. Abdul-Jabbar will be spending the next year working with the the California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet) to promote STEM education around California, making appearances at after-school programs in an effort to improve STEM learning in the state.
In his keynote speech, Abdul-Jabbar told audiences that California needed to be prepared to pay more taxes in order to fund STEM education. In a time when California’s budget is stretched as thin as it is, Abdul Jabbar noted that science, technology, engineering, and math need to take priority over the arts in an effort to fill STEM-related jobs: “Education needs to be well-rounded, but we have to pick and choose.”
In an excerpt from his keynote speech, embedded below courtesy of Patch.com, Abdul-Jabbar calls educators and innovators to action:
“If America is to maintain our high standard of living, we must continue to innovate,” said Abdul-Jabbar in a statement according to Education Week. “We are competing with nations many times our size, and STEM learning represents the engines of innovation. With these engines, we can lead the world, because knowledge is real power.”
Abdul-Jabbar has been working to promote STEM education in our country since 2009, when he started the Skyhook Foundation, which connects students with mentors and athletes in various programs to improve STEM education.
Abdul-Jabbar’s passion and action for education are certainly encouraging, but with all the hype around STEM, let’s hope California taxpayers, educators, entrepreneurs, and innovators won’t forget the importance of arts in education as well. Let’s move full STEAM ahead (yes, I just did that), and acknowledge the need for improvement in all subjects across our state’s curricula.
What do you think of Abdul-Jabbar’s work in STEM education? Sound off in the comments below!