Assembly Select Committee Holds Hearing On Supporting the STEM Education Ecosystem

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Sacramento – On Wednesday, March 7th, Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education held a hearing at the State Capitol to discuss how the legislature can take leadership in supporting the collaboration of STEM resources between schools, community and business organizations statewide, otherwise known as the STEM education ecosystem. In a room filled to capacity, attendees heard from educators, private industry, and STEM collaborative representatives about best practices and the challenges they face in building a network devoted to preparing California's students and teachers for the 21st Century economy.

“We had a rigorous discussion on improving math literacy for students and parents, expanding STEM professional development for teachers, and the role business partners can play in supporting STEM and STEAM in our schools.” Thurmond said.  “Additionally, issues of access, equity, and student achievement in STEM education are statewide concerns that require state leadership.” 

In 2015, only 18% of African Americans and 17% of Latino 4th graders were proficient in math, and by the 8th grade, those numbers dropped to 14% and 13% respectively. The numbers for proficiency in science are equally troubling as African American and Latino students in grades 4 and 8 remain static at about 11%. Access to STEM education can bridge the achievement gap for children of color and will lead to increasing diversity in STEM related careers. 

With the introduction of AB 2186, the California STEM Grant Program, Thurmond hopes to provide funding to expand and develop high-quality STEM programs to broaden student access and to recruit and retain math and science teachers. 

Participating in the hearing along with Thurmond were Assemblymembers Timothy Grayson (D-Concord), Sharon-Quirk Silva (D-Orange County), and Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park),  The speakers included Dr. Leroy Morishita, President, Cal State East Bay; Vincent Stewart, Executive Director, California STEM Network A Project of Children Now; Trina Ostrander, Executive Director, Institute for STEM Education; Dr. Carolyn Nelson, Dean of the College of Education, Cal State East Bay; Dawn O’Connor, Alameda County Office of Education; Darien Louie, Executive Director, East Bay Economic Development Alliance; Dr. Bert Lubin, Dean of Pediatric Health, Benioff Children’s Hospital; and  Dr. Renee Navarro, UCSF Executive Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach, UCSF/RECESS program.

The hearing was held in Sacramento at the State Capitol and can be viewed by selecting this link.

If you have interest in participating or attending future STEM panels/discussions or are a business that would like to partner with local schools to build maker spaces, and support career technical education and STEM programs for students, contact Mary Nicely

Assemblymember Tony Thurmond represents the 15th Assembly District, comprised of the cities of Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville, Hercules, Kensington, Piedmont, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, Tara Hills, and a portion of Oakland.