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Larry Plank, Director of K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Education for Hillsborough County Public School testifies before congressional committee.

HCPS STEM education receives national attention

April 12, 2017

Larry Plank is the Director of K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Education for Hillsborough County Public Schools which educates more than 213,000 students and is the eighth largest school system in the nation. 

Last month, Plank testified in front of the United States Senate's subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies regarding STEM education. The hearing was titled "STEM Education: Preparing Students for the Careers of Today and the Future".   

Plank was one of four STEM experts who were called into this testimony and the only one who works directly for a public K-12 institution.  His primary message to the legislators was that Federal investment is needed to assist and encourage support for STEM education at all grade levels, ultimately preparing Americans for the workforce.  

“As the director for K-12 STEM education in Hillsborough County Public Schools, I am responsible for not only supporting the academic endeavors of our community’s children, but also responsible for teacher professional development and the appropriate theming of our magnet schools and career and technology education academies so that they are best connected to the workforce needs of the greater Tampa Bay region,” Plank shared with the committee members. 

Plank’s testimony centered on funding and how Hillsborough County Public Schools had braided funding sources into a cohesive, multifaceted educational program for its students. 

He shared the district’s success in four different areas: curriculum innovations supporting 21st Century Skills and STEM learning; establishing career pathways supporting employment in STEM Fields; fostering community relationships supporting STEM learning, and value-added/non-traditional Programs that Support STEM learning. 

Later in March, following his congressional testimony Plank, in his role as the Executive Director of the National Science Leadership Association, or NSELA, was interviewed for nearly an hour on the internet-based Pre K-12 Educational Talk Radio hosted by Larry Jacobs. Jacobs has been producing educational podcasts since 2011 and averages more than 1700 listens per day.  

“It was a unique situation for the appropriations committee, although their responsibility lies in health and human services in education and workforce in terms of appropriation, it’s very unique for them to take on education in terms of a hearing and particularly STEM education,” Plank told Jacobs. 

Plank estimated that HCPS has received approximately $23 million in grants over the last seven years many of them from government institutions.  

“We value and appreciate the opportunities our legislators provide HCPS educators to participate in the national dialogue about critical educational issues,” said Connie Milito, Chief Officer, Government Relations for Hillsborough County Public Schools. 

 Transcripts from Plank’s testimony can be found here


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