|Reps. Grace Napolitano and Joe Baca
ask questions during Competitiveness Crisis Council summit on Sept. 21.
|Congressman Ruben Hinojosa speaks during the summit.|
|Chancellor Reed provided testimony during the Congressional Hearing.|
For two days, Cal Poly Pomona became a meeting of the minds where leaders in Congress, education, industry and Hispanic engineering organizations gathered to discuss the looming technical workforce crisis in the state of California and the nation.
The university and the Competitiveness Crisis Council co-hosted the summit on Sept. 21 and 22 titled “California is at Great Risk: Securing Our Competitiveness in a Global Market.” The event also addressed broadening the reach of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to under-represented populations.
“Our campus is working for California to produce a well-trained, globally aware, talented and diverse workforce in many fields of economic endeavor, and especially in the STEM disciplines,” university President Michael Ortiz said. “The jobs are there, but the workforce does not yet match that demand, and we must respond to that demand by increasing our training capacity.”
According to the congressionally requested report Rising Above The Gathering Storm, a comprehensive and coordinated effort is urgently needed to bolster U.S. competitiveness and leadership in the marketplace and in science and technology.
That type of coordinated effort was apparent at the summit’s Congressional Hearing for the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning and Competitiveness. The hearing was led by Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas). Subcommittee member Mazi Hirono, (D-Hawaii) participated in the hearing, as well as local Reps. Grace Napolitano, (D-Ca.) and Joe Baca, (D-Ca.).
“We try to ensure listening to those on the frontline,” Napolitano said during the summit.
The hearing on Sept. 21 featured testimony from six witnesses, including California State University Chancellor Charles Reed, who spoke in detail about the CSU’s impact on teacher preparation in the state and the multitude of programs designed to make college accessible to traditionally under-represented minority groups.
“The California State University prepares about 60 percent (about 13,000) of California’s teachers each year. Producing high-quality math and science teachers is a Board of Trustees priority,” Reed said.
In the last 2.5 years, the 23 CSU campuses have collectively increased the number of awarded math and science teaching credentials by nearly 38 percent. This is in response to the crisis in California in which 69,000 middle school students – most from minority and low-income homes – have been enrolled in Algebra 1 classes where the teacher is under-prepared, Reed said. Production of chemistry and physics teachers – fields with severe shortages – has expanded by 42 percent, he added.
“In addition to what we are doing in teacher preparation, the CSU is absolutely committed to reaching out to the state’s diverse communities and providing access to college that will translate into a successful entry into the state’s workforce,” he said.
Reed described CSU outreach programs such as PIQE, (Parent Institute for Quality Education) and the 1.3 million “How to Get to College” posters distributed all over the state. The chancellor also highlighted partnerships with HENAAC, (Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation), GEAR-UP, TRIO, Upward Bound and the MESA pre-college programs.
Additional Congressional Hearing witnesses were:
- Cal Poly San Louis Obispo President Warren Baker
- Universities Space Research Association President Fred Tarantino
- Los Angeles Community College District Chancellor Marshall (Mark) Drummond
- LAUSD Department of Science Director Todd Ullah
- California Council on Science and Technology Executive Director Susan Hackwood