CCST Testifies at Congressional Hearing on Education

September 28, 2007 | ,   | Contact: M. Daniel DeCillis

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo President Warren Baker, CCST Executive Director Susan Hackwood, and Congressman Rubén Hinojosa at the summit on September 21. (Image courtesy of the Competitiveness Crisis Council.)

On Friday, September 21, CCST Board Member Warren Baker, President of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and CCST Executive Director Susan Hackwood testified before the U.S. House Education and Labor Sub-Committee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness at a hearing held as part of the Competitiveness Crisis Council Summit at Cal Poly Pomona.

The two-day summit, entitled “California is at Great Risk – Securing Our Competitiveness in a Global Market,” focused on California’s continuing need for a workforce trained in science and math, and the economic consequences of failing to meet this demand. The hearing was led by by Representatives Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), who chairs the Sub-Committee, and Maize Hirono (D-Hawaii). Other speakers included Charles Reed, California State University Chancellor; Fred Tarantino, President, Universities Space Research Association; Marshall (Mark) Drummond, Chancellor, Los Angeles Community College District; and Todd Ullah, Director, Department of Science Los Angeles Unified School District. Representatives Grace Napolitano (D-California) and Joe Baca (D-California) were also in attendance.

Baker cited several reports that document a strong continuing demand for science and technology workers in the California and U.S. economies, including two recent reports by the Business-Higher Education Forum, which Baker co-chaired with Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson.

“Our ability to remain globally competitive as a state depends especially on our capacity for scientific and technical innovation,” said Baker in his testimony. “This in turn depends on our ability to engage students at a young age in the study of science and mathematics and to encourage them to embark upon college and university programs in STEM disciplines.”

Hackwood focused on the results of the 2007 CCST report, Critical Path Analysis of California’s Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation System, and the 2006 CCST report to Governor Schwarzenegger on how the state should respond to the concerns raised by the National Academies’ Rising Above the Gathering Storm.

“Teachers have an important proactive role to play in ensuring the delivery of high-quality science and mathematics instruction in elementary and secondary schools that serves as the building block for success in those fields in higher education and in the workplace,” testified Hackwood. “It simply makes sense for the state to develop and support policies that prioritize high-quality science and mathematics education for all students, particularly as the state considers strategies to avoid a predicted decline in educational attainment.”

Chancellor Reed echoed the same concerns about the workforce and STEM educational achievement, and detailed the steps that the CSU has taken to address the challenge.

“The CSU has a significant commitment to advancing California’s competitiveness, and is dedicated to building the foundations that are critical to preparing all students for STEM careers,” said Reed. “This includes preparing the mathematics and science teachers needed to equip California’s students for success in STEM fields and fostering access to STEM fields among students from the underrepresented groups that are an increasingly large portion of our workforce.”

The Committee on Education and Labor oversees federal programs and initiatives dealing with education at all levels, from preschool through high school to higher education and continuing education.

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