This week the California Legislature will vote on the state budget, including Governor Brown’s proposal to eliminate funding for a second year of high school science in California schools.
In the complex and sometimes heated debate about public education reform, there is clear consensus on one issue: improving science and mathematics education is crucial to our ability to compete in a global economy.
That’s why a 1983 law requires California high school graduates to complete two years of science, matching the requirement for entry to the California State University or University of California systems. After nearly 30 years, an obscure detail in Governor Brown's budget proposal could eliminate funding for this mandate and allow high schools to stop offering a second year of science.
If approved, California would be the only state in the nation that effectively requires students to take only one year of high school science to graduate.
Does this make sense to anyone?
The U.S. already lags far behind China and South Korea, and trails most developed nations in science proficiency, resulting in an education gap that Education Secretary Arne Duncan dubbed “an absolute wake-up call.”
Within the United States, California students rank near the bottom among states in science scores. This is unacceptable given California’s heritage as a world leader in science, engineering and technology – the fields that created Silicon Valley and the technology we can’t live without, enable Hollywood to entertain the world, and help farmers from the Central Valley to Imperial Valley feed and clothe our nation.
Today, despite high unemployment, employers are unable to fill jobs in science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM). Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates STEM jobs will be among the fastest growing. By 2018 California will need science-savvy graduates to fill more than one million STEM jobs, by far the most of any state.
Without question, the Governor’s proposal would have devastating and long-term negative impacts on California students, especially for those from poor and disenfranchised communities. It would also jeopardize the ability of our students and companies to compete globally.
When it comes to science education, California’s students deserve visionary, future-oriented policies, not a misguided decision that moves us 30 years backwards.
Say NO to Governor Brown's proposal to roll back funding of science education and help ensure our children have the science skills necessary to compete in a global marketplace!