by Félix Pérez
The first in her family to graduate from college, Jacky Rosen broke barriers as a computer programmer and software developer in a male-dominated field. Her work experience led her to become one of Congress’s leading advocates for students, especially females, having access to Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics education.
The “disparity between computing and scientific talent and employer demand really starts as far back as elementary school,” said Rosen in remarks on the House floor. “Young girls should know that they’re more capable of succeeding at STEM,” she continued as she introduced two bipartisan bills to improve STEM education. The bills were passed unanimously by the House of Representatives as one combined bill. The Building Blocks of STEM Act directs the National Science Foundation to allocate funding more equitably for research in the Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12) program to studies with a focus on early childhood. The Code Like a Girl Act creates two National Science Foundation grants to research and fund computer science programs that encourage early childhood education in STEM for girls under the age of 11.
Rosen’s track record in involving students in STEM and her commitment to children’s issues earned her recognition as one of Congress’s “Champions and Defenders of children” by First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. “Whether it’s fighting for access to health care or investments in STEM education, I will always strive to be a strong voice in Congress for our kids and their success,” said Rosen, who represents Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District. “I believe that the true character of a society is revealed in how we treat our children.”
It is that very commitment to children and students that led the 24,000-member Nevada State Education Association to recommend her for the Senate. “Congresswoman Rosen has been a reliable partner working toward the vision of a quality public education for all Nevada students regardless of zip code or income level,” said Clark County special education teacher and NSEA President Ruben Murillo Jr. NSEA highlighted Rosen’s vocal advocacy for improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and encouraging young girls to get interested in and explore careers in STEM fields.
Said Rosen: “I understand the critical role public education plays in shaping our economic future because I was the first in my family to graduate from college, and my daughter is a proud product of Nevada’s public schools. . . I will always fight to ensure our teachers and our kids have the tools and resources to succeed.”
In her race for the U.S. Senate, Rosen is going up against incumbent Dean Heller, a first-term incumbent whose record on education has garnered low marks. In its most recent Legislative Report Card, the National Education Association gave Heller an ‘F.’ Heller voted for the nomination of Betsy DeVos as education secretary despite the vocal opposition of many of his constituents. He supported an amendment that provides tax advantages for high income taxpayers to finance tuition at private K-12 schools. He also supported the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Trump tax cuts that are estimated to cost Nevada $280 million in education funding over the next 10 years.
Rosen earned an ‘A’ on NEA’s Legislative Report Card. Among her votes, she voted against the legislation designed to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, supported restoring and increasing funding for after-school programs, and opposed a budget resolution that called for deep cuts to programs, such as education and health care, to pave the way for massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.
She also voted against a tax cut bill that reduces education funding. The House bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, cuts public education funding and creates private school voucher schemes for the wealthy. The bill, a $1.5 trillion giveaway to the wealthy and corporations, could cut education funding to Nevada public schools by more $279 million in the next decade. “The bill allows up to $10,000 per year from these accounts [529 college savings plans] to be used for tuition at private K-12 schools — a poorly veiled voucher-like program that largely benefits families who can already afford private school,” wrote Marc Egan, director of government relations for NEA.