California Among States to Vote For Improved STEM Curriculum in Public Schools

It is no great surprise that US education is behind much of the rest of the world when it comes to science and technology. This is largely the reason we have seen a surge in what is called STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). And it is probably also a major reason some states are upping their public education support.

In California, for example (and, perhaps, not surprisingly), an online survey of 1,200 voters suggests that as much as 87 percent favor schools placing “greater emphasis on integrating science as a part of the entire public school curriculum.”

What may be more interesting, perhaps, most of those who responded to this survey admitted they were not aware of the Next Generation Science Standards. This is a new set of science education standards the state of California had adopted in 2013. After being informed of these standards, however, 68 percent of the respondents said they support the ideas.

California State Board of Education’s Trish Williams comments, “It is great news that 68 percent of poll respondents favor the approach the Next Generation Science Standards take to teaching and learning, so that students understand how scientific concepts fit together and are applied in today’s world.” Also a board liaison for implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards and a computer science curriculum, she goes on to say, “California is seen as a national leader on the new science standards.”

Of course, this is California: a highly populated state, with many regional differences. For one, California has about twice as many registered Democratic voters than Republicans (at a ratio of about 60:30 percent). And Democratic voters tend to favor more emphasis of scientific integration in public education.

However, even within the state of California, regional differences abound. The majority of voters in Los Angeles County, the Bay area, and the South Coast (58, 58, and 53 percent, respectively) tout greater emphasis on science in public schools compared to minority voters in the Central Valley and Southern California voters (at 37 and 38 percent, respectively).

What is, perhaps, most important is that 18 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have adopted these new standards. Still, California schools continue to introduce these standards at different intensity levels. This new methodology, of course, is not getting as much attention the math and English Common Core standards introduced in 2010.

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