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Jan. 9 Public Forum to Focus on STEM Education

Jan. 2, 2013

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education matters will be the focus of the Jan. 9 Community Engagement Forum at Cal State Fullerton.

The free 8 a.m.-noon event in the Titan Student Union's Portola Pavilion is sponsored by Cal State Fullerton, Orange County, the Children and Families Commission of Orange County, Orange County United Way and Orangewood Children's Foundation.

The forum is the second in a series of community engagement sessions scheduled for each of the Orange County Supervisors' districts. They are part of the annual review of the Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, produced each year for the past 18 years by CSUF's Center for Community Collaboration.

This year's report includes a section on STEM education. It concludes that the STEM pipeline is "leaking badly," that efforts are being made to increase STEM learning in Orange County schools, and that such efforts make for a sound investment to boost the number of children prepared to complete high school and study the STEM fields. While Orange County students outperform their peers in mathematics and science statewide, the report cites performance disparities among school districts where income and language barriers exist.

The report indicates that just 20 percent of Orange County's high school students enroll in upper-level math courses, 14 percent enroll in chemistry courses, and 6 percent enroll in physics classes.

At next week's forum, in addition to a discussion on how to further STEM education, Michelle G. Berelowitz, director of the Center for Community Collaboration, will present a report overview.

She said the good news is that juvenile arrests are decreasing. The bad news, she added, is that the amount of money spent on public education is decreasing.

During the 2010-11 school year, the average expenditure per pupil in Orange County was $7,722. The state average was $8,323, and the national average was $10,770. Report authors noted that the funding cuts from Orange County's school districts have resulted in the reduction, elimination or threat of elimination of myriad programs, including those in the arts, science, music, and sports, as well as field trips.

"That raises the question of whether enough money is being spent to help students achieve their highest potential," Berelowitz said.

Registration to attend the public forum is available online.

By: Mimi Ko Cruz, 657-278-7586

Tags:  Academics & ResearchEvents