Uproxx knows that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines are driving the future of this planet forward. Every day, we see new ideas, fresh innovations, and bold trailblazers in these fields. Follow us this month as we highlight how STEM is shaping the culture of NOW.
When you look at your own life, you were probably never successful in something you weren’t excited about.
-Professor Herb Schroeder, Ph.D.
Many of us grew up in the era of “no child left behind.” It’s such an amazing sentiment. We are one of the richest nations on earth. Doing better, especially by our kids, should be inalienable. Yet, kids still are being left behind; in fact, it’s distressingly common and far too often overlooked. Among these forgotten children are tens of thousands of Americans born into poverty on American Indian Reservations.
In an overly-alarmist world, the statistics on Native American students should absolutely be cause for alarm. Only 67 percent of Native Americans graduate from high school. The national average is 80 percent. Only 26 percent of those Native Americans will enroll in college, with ten percent achieving a four-year degree. That’s a vertigo-inducing drop in a nation with a national average of 69% enrollment. There’s a long list of reasons for the low retention rate — poverty, sexual abuse, mental disorders, violence, substance abuse, and suicide all play a role. Native American kids live with these trials every day, at levels that The New York Times called “off the scale.”
Yet, there is hope on the horizon. Native Americans graduation rates have seen an uptick since the 1970s. More Native kids are going to college now than ever before. There’s opportunity afoot. Much of this opportunity comes from private foundations, teachers, and corporations that are working to provide solutions outside of the system. Programs like Professor Herb Schroeder’s Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP) fill gaps and offers hope to young people eager for knowledge. This initiative and others offer a lifeline in the form of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics training. In doing so, these passionate educators are helping spark what could and should become one of the great American comeback stories.