Tennessee governor proposes $4 million STEM initiative

Gov. Bill Lee says the initiative would bolster the technology workforce and help develop new computer science standards and teacher training.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (Bill Lee)

Newly inaugurated Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has committed to expanding access to STEM education for K-12 students through a workforce initiative he announced Wednesday.

“By exposing Tennessee students to computer science in their K-12 careers we are ensuring our kids have every chance to land a high-quality job,” Lee said in a press release.

Lee, who assumed office last month, proposed that his initiative — Called the Future Workforce Initiative — be supported by a $4 million investment with the goal of making Tennessee a leader in STEM field job growth by 2022.

Tennessee follows numerous other states that have invested in STEM education in recent years. According to’s 2018 State of Computer Science Education report, 19 states funded K-12 computer science professional learning between 2016 and 2021 for a total of $62 million in investment.


“Our agenda advocates for increased access to career and technical education for K-12 students and a key part of this includes prioritizing STEM training,” said Lee. “The Future Workforce Initiative is a direct response to the emerging technology industry and making sure our students are first in line to be qualified for technology jobs.”

The initiative will emphasize three main areas related to STEM education:

  • Launching 100 new STEM education programs for middle-schoolers and tripling the number of STEM-designated public schools by 2022
  • Implementing K-8 computer science standards and STEM teacher training programs
  • Increasing access to dual credit, advanced placement, and dual-enrollment programs for STEM high schools

The Future Workforce Initiative is the second education initiative Lee has included in his legislative agenda. On Tuesday, the Republican announced an initiative to expand access to vocational and technical training for Tennessee students, in part to address gaps in the state’s workforce, Lee said.

“I look forward to working closely with the legislature to ensure every student has access to a high-quality career,” Lee said.

Betsy Foresman

Written by Betsy Foresman

Betsy Foresman was an education reporter for EdScoop from 2018 through early 2021, where she wrote about the virtues and challenges of innovative technology solutions used in higher education and K-12 spaces. Foresman also covered local government IT for StateScoop, on occasion. Foresman graduated from Texas Christian University in 2018 — go Frogs! — with a BA in journalism and psychology. During her senior year, she worked as an intern at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and moved back to the capital after completing her degree because, like Shrek, she feels most at home in the swamp. Foresman previously worked at Scoop News Group as an editorial fellow.

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