Schools in Eastern Jackson County place an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) learning, and Gov. Jay Nixon visited Grain Valley High School Wednesday in support of this technological direction in education.

Nixon encouraged more STEM learning in classrooms and discussed his “Good Jobs, Good Schools” plan during his stop.

“We’re (Missouri) number one in the rate of technology job growth,” Nixon said to a technology class. “Not California, not New York, but Missouri.”

The governor said he visited the high school for three reasons:

• To congratulate the Grain Valley School District in moving forward by providing good schools and opportunities.

• To thank administrators and teachers for their dedication in education.

• To explain that today’s competition for jobs is worldwide.

Nixon explained that things are simply not what they used to be, jobwise. He said when he grew up in Desoto, Mo., he only had to compete with his high school graduating class of 220 students. Once he went to college at the University of Missouri, he was only competing with students from campus. And after graduating from law school, he was just competing with lawyers from the state. Now citizens have to be compete for a position with others as far away as Beijing or London.

“Competition is now worldwide,” he said.

But he said there is hope for current and future graduates.

“There are literally unlimited jobs in math and science,” Nixon said. “These good jobs are in very high demand. The goal is never having to worry about finding a job.”

And with Missouri ranked number one in terms of technology job growth, according to an analysis by technology job search website from Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Nixon told freshmen and sophomores in an introductory technology class that they’re on a “clear path to success.”

“It’s just unbelievable where we’re at in terms of technology,” he said. “In a couple of years, you can get a car, compared to buying a hamburger at a fast food drive-through. There will be no excuses to get a job (in these types of fields).”

He also said that these acquired skills in science and technology will be mobile. “You can take these skills anywhere around the world.”

And besides commending students, the governor repeatedly praised educators.

“Folks who teach are incredibly valuable people. They make sacrificies and make our country go forward,” he said.

However, in order for Missouri to facilitate these kinds of in-demand jobs, Nixon said, the state will need good schools. And to ensure there are good schools across the state, he discussed his “Good Schools, Good Jobs” plan.

“Communities like Grain Valley know that attracting good jobs starts with investing in good schools,” he said. “ Good Schools, Good Jobs plan will provide local schools like the ones here in Jackson County with the resources they need to prepare students to succeed in college and careers.”

He said the K-12 foundation formula, which establishes the state’s funding level for K-12 schools and has been law since 2005, would increase state funding for Grain Valley schools by more than $1.4 million. Nixon’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal has an increase of $278 million for K-12 classrooms, and fully funded by fiscal year 2016 with the same amount, bringing a total of $556 million invested in education. (The Legislature is working on a budget that is not using the governor’s proposal as a starting point.)

Will this funding plan prompt an increase in taxes? He stressed his plan would not raise taxes.

“We will balance the budget the old fashioned way. My plan is to invest those dollars in places that make a difference: Public education.”

But with all these kids becoming versed in engineering and technology fields, where will they work in Missouri once they graduate?

Nixon quickly pointed to Cerner, the Kansas City-based health information technology company.

“They recently invested $4 billion in infrastructure where they will employ approximately 15,000 more workers.”

“These science and technology fields are clearly the future.”