You may have heard rumblings here and there about a bill that is making its way through the Assembly in Sacramento, AB 1217, ”California State STEM School” by Raul Bocanegra of the 39th Assembly District. Like all bills in Sacramento, it will be voted on by the end of this week. According to the bill’s website, AB 1217 would do the following:
“Assembly Bill 1217 will establish a California State STEM School in downtown Los Angeles and equip our young people, particularly those from traditionally underserved communities, with the skills needed to become future mathematicians, engineers and scientists.”
Specifically, the bill will target African-American and Latino students and girls to address the lack of these populations represented in the STEM fields. The idea is not a new one. In fact, there are several states that have already established similar schools including Illinois. The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy has served as a model for other STEM focused schools across the nation. In fact, it is doing so well that it has been ranked the fifth Best Public High School in America by Niche. If you clicked on the hyperlink, you can see that schools in Illinois and New York are listed as the top schools. Leaders in the Golden State hope to change that with the California State STEM School.
The proposal does have some opposition. State Senator Connie Leyva, for example, voted against the bill in the Senate Committee. At issue is opposition by the teacher’s union and STEM teachers who worry about collective bargaining at the state authorized school.
While the proposed bill does include characteristics and components consistent with those of a charter school, it is NOT a charter school. Reminder: charter schools are public schools.
Currently, the bill also makes provisions for transportation, which is also opposed by certain interest groups, though it is unclear why they oppose these provisions. That said, the bill, in its current form, is strongly opposed by the folks at California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, and UTLA are opposed to the bill.
The proposed school would operate in Downtown Los Angeles but would be open for enrollment to all students living in Los Angeles County. Several colleges and universities, including UCLA, have expressed interest in working with the school once it is opened.
Of course, we will continue to keep track of this important development for the children of LA County and post updates as they occur.
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