New laws aim to increase STEM and higher education opportunities So that California’s schools are competitive on a global scale
IRVINE, CA— Orange County Business Council (OCBC) is proud to announce Governor Brown’s signing of its sponsored bill AB 288, College and Career Access Pathways partnerships, and of its supported bill SB 359, California Mathematic Placement Act of 2015. Both pieces of legislation work to fix gaps in education that hinder critical STEM and higher education attainment at the middle and high school levels. OCBC thanks the Governor for his support.
“Our students are competing not just on a national level, but a global scale,” said Lucy Dunn, President and CEO, Orange County Business Council. “They need every opportunity in order to succeed as they enter the STEM oriented workforce, and business needs highly-skilled employees to remain competitive in the international economy. This is a great step in closing the gaps plaguing students’ success.”
More than 1.5 million jobs will open up in California over the next 10 years, but trends show that students won’t be ready to fill those jobs. For example, jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are expected to grow 22 percent by 2020. However, less than half of graduating students will have the skills necessary to fill those jobs. SB 288 aims to close that gap by streamlining college programs and increasing opportunities for higher education among high school students. Under the dual enrollment legislation, California high school students will be able to take community college classes for credit, getting them into more advanced courses earlier on and shortening time spent obtaining a degree.
“OCBC commends the work and support of Assemblyman Chris Holden for his diligence in getting this legislation passed,” Dunn said. “Orange County celebrates one of the highest educational attainment rates in the nation, and this is in no small part to the huge success of dual enrollment programs here. It was a long road getting this critical piece of legislation through, but it serves as a great model for the state and will continue to move California education in the right direction.”
Additionally, SB 359 addresses a fundamental gap in math education among middle school students, especially among minorities. A study by the Noyce Foundation found that nearly 65 percent of students who took Algebra I in 8th grade were made to repeat the same class in 9th grade. Even though many of those students received a “B-” or above in the first class and had shown proficient understanding of the subject matter. According to the report, only about one-third of Latino and African-American students were promoted despite demonstrating proficiency, a dramatically lower percentage than the number of Asian or White students. As the transition from 8th to 9th grade is one of the most critical in preparing students for college, SB 359 establishes a fair, objective, and transparent mathematics placement policy within all California schools.
Orange County Business Council is the leading voice of business in Orange County, California. OCBC represents and promotes the business community, working with government and academia, to enhance Orange County’s economic development and prosperity in order to preserve a high quality of life. OCBC serves member and investor businesses with nearly 250,000 employees and 2,000,000 worldwide. In providing a proactive forum for business and supporting organizations, OCBC helps assure the financial growth of America’s sixth largest county. For more information, visit www.ocbc.org.
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