The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board has repeatedly called for a bigger emphasis on science and engineering in public education as part of a ambitious academic schedule. That is why we admired great local examples of schools, beginning with High Tech High’s various branches and The Preuss School UCSD.
So it sounded like a fantastic thought when two San Fernando Valley Democrats — Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra and state Sen. Anthony Portantino — introduced a bill to construct a pioneering state-run STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) middle and higher school in downtown Los Angeles. The idea is even more attractive because it called for educating minority students from poor communities with no very same opportunities enjoyed by pupils in more wealthy areas. The cherry on top was that deep-pocketed Angelenos with a desire to make the California technology world varied are supporting this concept — that might be a version elsewhere — and are ready to provide funding.
However, it may not survive the days of this legislative session last week, while Assembly Bill 1217 won a Senate committee endorsement that is crucial — and San Diegans might be part of the reason why.
The major blame would of course fall together with the nation’s education establishment — that comprises the California Teachers Association, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and institutions representing California school boards and school administrators, all of whom assert that a state-run school would unfairly sidestep “local management” policies. However, some blame would also lie the only district in California, with the San Diego Unified School District to oppose the bill. District spokesman Andrew Sharp said that’s because San Diego Unified’s leadership remains dedicated to education policy shaped at the neighborhood level. He also noted that the language of this bill would allow for establishing such a unique school in San Diego County as it tops 3.5 million in population in coming years.
In a country as big as California, what would be wrong with schooling experimentation? In a city in the sciences like San Diego, what would be wrong with having another public school that is superlative dedicated to helping minorities that are underrepresented?
Which brings us to the San Diego connection that is closing. If the L.A. STEM school measure manages to get to the Assembly, onlookers believe two neighborhood Democrats — Shirley Weber and Todd Gloria — may determine whether the proposal passes the seven-member Assembly Education Committee.
Unfortunately, a Gloria spokesman said he doesn’t currently support the bill because it doesn’t appear necessary; he said there are processes in place to set up STEM schools and that 142 STEM schools or STEAM schools, that concentrate on the arts, are already approved in L.A. County.
We expect that in deciding how to vote, ” Gloria and Weber believe the children for whom they could offer a path to a lifestyle that is better — not the special interests who’ve spent decades resisting reformers’ efforts to enhance California schooling. Lawmakers must give a chance in a country school system that could gain from boldness to a bold instruction program.
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