The Legislature finds and declares as follows: (a) California is a national and international leader in scientific and technological development. California employs 45 percent of the nation's computer specialists and 21 percent of its engineers. The economic growth of California and the nation will depend in a large part upon its ability to remain competitive with other states and with foreign nations. Maintaining our preeminence will be dependent upon persons who have a solid foundation in science.
(b) There is growing concern about science illiteracy within the state's adult population. A National Science Foundation Report shows that less than half of all high school juniors and one-third of high school seniors take a science course. As a result, American high school students receive only one-half to one-third the exposure to science as their counterparts in other developed countries, such as Japan, West Germany, East Germany, and the Soviet Union.
(c) California has an insufficient number of teachers trained in science and mathematics. There were 1,400 positions filled by teachers not trained in science or mathematics in 1985, and there is a projected shortage of 2,000 to 2,500 positions being filled by teachers not trained in science and mathematics in 1986.
(d) Due to the higher entry level salaries provided by the private sector for college graduates trained in science and mathematics, the growing shortage of qualified science and mathematics teachers will continue.
(e) There are exemplary programs in California that upgrade the training of science teachers and train science teachers.
(f) Complex problems must be overcome if science education is to advance students to a level of competence appropriate for an increasingly technological society. The decline in science achievement of students in schools, colleges, and universities in California affects all students, but is particularly acute for women students, minority students, and students from lower income groups. The problems related to this situation include, but are not limited to, all of the following:
(1) A lack of understanding of the fundamental principles of science and their implications for everyday life.
(2) Inadequate mastery of knowledge of science by students and many teachers, resulting in poor comprehension of college coursework and high attrition rates for those students who have these deficiencies.
(3) A tendency among girls and young women to avoid taking science courses in high school, which limits their choice of educational options, and screens them out of future careers in science, engineering, and other science-related professions.
(4) Lack of science instruction at the elementary school level to enable all students, including female, minority, and low-income students, to develop skills and attitudes which will enable and encourage them to pursue science successfully in later grades.
(5) A critical shortage of qualified teachers, with significant numbers of science teachers leaving the classroom for nonteaching jobs, and few students training to take their places.
(6) Lack of teachers' training in the use of laboratory equipment and procedures, as well as the lack of laboratory-based facilities in schools, thereby reducing the opportunity for students to receive "hands-on" science instruction.
(7) Staffing of more than 25 percent of science classes by teachers not certified to teach science.
(g) While some colleges and universities are improving courses in the teaching of science, this will not fully address the problem, since the number of new teacher candidates is relatively small. Therefore, the Legislature recognizes the need to assist existing teachers in gaining the knowledge necessary to improve science education for all students.
(h) The science problem is shared by all segments and levels of California education, and the problem can best be addressed by cooperatively planned and funded efforts.
(i) Appropriate models for cooperative, intersegmental approaches to solving the science problem should address the findings of state and national science associations, including, but not limited to, the National Science Foundation and National Association of Science Teachers. The comprehensive approach will give special attention to providing in-service training of classroom teachers, defining more clearly those standards of science knowledge required at each school level, and developing curricula and instructional strategies to meet these standards. Whenever possible, existing resources shall be pooled to support this comprehensive program. Models for the program may include the California Writing Project; the California Mathematics Project; the EQUALS Project; the MESA Project; the University of California at Irvine's Summer Science Institute; the Lawrence Hall of Science's Programs for Schools; and the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory's Science Education Center, Summer Science Institute, and Lesson In-service Science Workshop for Elementary and Middle School Teachers.
(Added by Stats. 1987, Ch. 1486, Sec. 1.)