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San Diego conference highlights state
California is proving to be a strong leader in the area of science, technology, engineering and math education. These subjects – collectively known as STEM – are essential to America’s global economic competitiveness. Through a coordinated effort by Gov. Jerry Brown, the Legislature, the business community and schools, California is demonstrating its commitment to preparing students for the global economy.
California will showcase its leadership in STEM education this week in San Diego during U.S. News & World Report’s fourth annual STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference. This year’s gathering – “Teach, Inspire, Hire: Discovering and Growing America’s Diverse Talent Pool” – will place special emphasis on increasing the ranks of women, minorities, veterans and other underserved and underrepresented populations in STEM careers.
Gov. Brown showed that STEM education was a top priority in 2015-2016 by proposing a $7.8 billion increased investment in K-14 education that includes several STEM initiatives. While increased funding alone won’t solve the state’s STEM challenges, further proposals in the state legislature will help.
A bill introduced by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) and signed into law by the governor calls on the University of California and California State University to provide guidelines for high school computer science courses that would satisfy an advanced math requirement for undergraduate admissions.
Padilla has observed that computer science courses in California are often treated as electives. That’s a costly mistake, considering how ill-prepared many of today’s high school students are for the high-tech STEM and computing jobs that are defining state and U.S. economies. Our high school seniors’ most recent performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – often called “the Nation’s Report Card” – revealed that nearly 40 percent of those about to enter the workforce, college and military were unable to perform basic mathematics.
Padilla’s efforts – and those of the state Legislature – will help students graduate from high school better prepared to pursue careers in the high-demand STEM fields. College graduates with backgrounds in math and science have twice as many job opportunities as non-STEM graduates. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment in STEM jobs is expected to grow to more than 9 million by 2022. An estimated 1.2 million jobs in science, technology, engineering and math will be unfilled by 2018. The long-term answer to that shortfall is not to import STEM talent from abroad with more and more H1-B visas, but to develop it domestically.
Other government and private-sector programs are also contributing to significant STEM progress in the state. The California Department of Education’s Career Pathways Trust makes $250 million available to school districts and other community organizations to fund career pathways programs; establish partnerships among schools, business entities and community organizations; and develop career-relevant curricula. Companies such as Chevron are providing significant support to bolster STEM education in California and across the nation.
The important work to further STEM education will be of primary focus during the three-day STEM leadership conference, which beings June 29. Educators at all levels, as well as community and business leaders and policymakers, will come together to collaborate and confront education- and workforce-development challenges facing the state and the nation. Forty breakout sessions will enable attendees to explore in depth topics such as “Recruiting and Retaining Minorities in Your Workforce,” “Progress on the Gender Front in STEM,” “Engaging Parents in Their Children’s STEM Educations,” “Cybersecurity: STEM Steam Engine” and “Improving Teacher Prep.” As host of the conference, the Golden State gets its star turn with “California’s Bold and Ambitious Plan to Rebuild Public Education: What’s at Stake for STEM and the Nation?”
If you are attending the conference and want to report updates and current highlights send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 202-469-3423 for BREAKING NEWS. OGTV thanks Vince Bertra of the San Diego Union Tribune for their editorial contribution.