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LAEDC Supports STEM Professional Teaching Pathway Act

By May 23, 2017 No Comments

LAEDC supports Senate Bill SB 436 (Allen) which would address the growing shortage of qualified science and math teachers by funding a demonstrated program to recruit, train and support additional teaching practitioners, including military veterans, who have had professional careers in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field.  Read our support letter below.

May 23, 2017

The Honorable Ricardo Lara
Chair, Senate Appropriations Committee
State Capitol Building, Room 2206
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re:        SB 436 (Allen): California STEM Professional Teaching Pathway Act of 2017 – SUPPORT

Senator Lara:

On behalf of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), an organization whose purpose is to raise standards of living for the residents of L.A. County by increasing economic opportunity and regional prosperity, I am pleased to write in support of Senate Bill (SB) 436, as amended. This legislation would help address the growing shortage of qualified science and math teachers by funding a demonstrated program to recruit, train and support additional teaching practitioners, including military veterans, who have had professional careers in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field.

As the L.A. region’s economic development leadership organization, the LAEDC envisions a regionally-based, industry-responsive and demand-driven talent development system here in L.A. and Orange counties (as well as across all of California’s economic regions) that is:

  • Future forward, so that we’re developing the region’s supply of talent for the economy of the tomorrow, not of yesterday;
  • Adaptive, so that we’re responding to the ever-changing labor needs of the industries in which our region has productive advantages in real-time, especially as the momentum of labor market change outside of our talent systems and institutions accelerates;
  • Scalable, so that we’re activating sensible “systems change” across all of our systems, from our social enterprise nonprofits, to our workforce boards, to our community colleges, to our CSU and other four-year campuses; and
  • Total and complete, so that there is functional integration across all of our region’s talent development institutions.

By addressing the shortage of qualified STEM teachers in California, SB 436 is a prudent first-step in modernizing the state’s regional talent development systems to be FAST. As many of the state’s educators and most productive and profitable industries already know, the STEM-based teacher shortage across the state has reached a critical level. This shortage threatens the long-term viability and regional permanency of many of the state’s key industries, such as aerospace, advanced transportation, bioscience and IT, which are critical to California’s overall economic well-being. Bear in mind, it is our state’s deep concentration and pool of skilled talent that is its most essential comparative advantage over other states, economic regions and nations in terms of competing for the research, design, production and export components of the STEM-based, innovation-intensive industries that will be the prosperity generators and job centers of future; after all, California is not going to compete successfully on a cost, tax or housing affordability basis.

Over the next decade, there will be a projected shortage of 33,000 teachers in math and science that will not be met through California’s current approaches to recruitment and preparation. All the while, other (competing) states are instituting innovative strategies to recruit more STEM industry professionals into the classroom, including New York and Utah, which provide pathways for individuals with industry experience to obtain teaching certificates or licenses.  And many more states are exploring inventive strategies to draw more STEM industry professionals into teaching.

STEM professionals bring unique expertise and experience to the classroom, and can help students make the critical connection between STEM-based competencies and real-world professional development and career advancement. Moreover, many studies have shown that STEM professionals who participate in structured teaching pathways are retained in teaching positions at higher rates (85 percent) than those who do not, resulting in cost-savings and efficiencies in addressing the state’s STEM teacher shortage.

The LAEDC believes that this bill addresses the discrepancy between the deep STEM expertise that is essential to a thriving future economy and the scarcity of qualified STEM teachers in our public schools, particularly within underserved communities.

For these important reasons, the LAEDC strongly supports SB 436, and I urge you to support this bill.

Sincerely,

David Flaks
President & COO
LAEDC