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Posted on: June 18, 2018

Dr. Diane DeBacker to join gathering of State and Federal STEM Education Leaders at the White House

Diane DeBacker

TOPEKA – Dr. Diane DeBacker, Executive Director of Business and Education Innovation at the Kansas Department of Commerce, will attend the first-of-its-kind State-Federal Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education Summit hosted by The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on June 25-26, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

“Education in Kansas, from pre-K through careers, is undergoing significant changes,” said Dr. DeBacker. “The White House STEM Summit will allow the Kansas team to discuss and strategize how we can best incorporate STEM education into the changes.”

According to the OSTP, the State-Federal STEM Education Summit will convene a diverse group of State STEM leaders, including officials from governors’ offices, K-20 educators, workforce and industry representatives, State policy experts, and non-government organization executives. These attendees will participate in the development of a new Federal 5-Year STEM Education Strategic Plan in compliance with America COMPETES Act of 2010.

“This event is the first time an administration has asked for this level of State input when developing a Federal STEM education strategy,” said Jeff Weld, senior policy advisor and assistant director for STEM education at OSTP. “Top-down approaches to STEM education can often yield wonderful ideas, but it’s at the State and community level where the momentum happens. State leaders know best what kinds of programs will work in their communities, and where they need the power of the Federal government to help drive success in this field. STEM education is critical to preparing our students for the jobs of the future. We must do everything we can to ensure that Federal, State, local, and tribal governments, communities, educators, and private industry partners are united for the long-term success of our Nation.”

Alongside OSTP in planning and carrying out this Summit are the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Smithsonian Institution. STEM leaders from all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories and tribes, will attend the Summit to illuminate and advance State-Federal STEM alignment.

In 1976, Congress established OSTP to provide the President and others within the Executive Office of the President with advice on the scientific, engineering, and technological aspects of the economy, national security, homeland security, health, foreign relations, the environment, and the technological recovery and use of resources, among other topics.  OSTP also leads interagency science and technology policy coordination efforts, assists the Office of Management and Budget with an annual review and analysis of Federal research and development in budgets, and serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans, and programs of the Federal Government.

Dr. DeBacker, a former State of Kansas Education Commissioner, was appointed to her position in 2017 by Governor Sam Brownback and continues to serve under the leadership of Governor Jeff Colyer, MD.  The purpose of the Executive Director of Business and Education Innovation role is to help bridge the gap between the workforce needs of Kansas industry and the way students are educated in the state.  Dr. DeBacker also serves as the Executive Director of the Governor’s Education Council, a group of 30+ educators, business leaders, and students.

Having worked in the education field since graduating from Emporia State University in 1982 with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Education, Dr. DeBacker obtained her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Washburn University in 1987 and Doctorate of Educational Administration and Leadership from Kansas State University in 2002. During her 35 years of experience in the education field, Dr. DeBacker has served in a variety of roles across the education spectrum including as an adjunct professor, principal, associate superintendent, elected local board of education member, education advisor to the Abu Dhabi Education Council in the United Arab Emirates, in addition to her service for four years as the Commissioner of Education for the State of Kansas.

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