Governor wants to cut funding in school science


The California finalists for Intel's Science Competition have developed truly amazing things; they began their projects in high school. The genetic test James Thomas of San Jose generated will be helpful.

"I created a model that actually has 92 percent accuracy in predicting the on-set of alcoholism in individuals," said Thomas.

The technology Jessica Richeri of Riverside developed will change the way we drive.

"My research finds a way to avoid traffic jams in the future with an autonomous robotic vehicle," said Richeri.

Supporters believe this illustrates how innovation can stimulate California's economy, that these kids are tomorrow's job creators, and it all begins with STEM: science, technology, education and math.

But because of California's continued budget crisis, the governor proposes to cut the second year science requirement in high schools to save $245 million.

For decades, schools have always gotten reimbursed by the state for teaching a second science class, but Gov. Jerry Brown wants to move away from state mandates because they're too expensive. He dropped by the science fair and said the cuts mean districts will have to find the money themselves to continue the program.

"I personally went to the School Board and said this is a good requirement, but we want the locals to pick up that up. Otherwise, they charge us," said Brown.

Critics say, though, after years of decreased state funding, schools can barely keep the lights on, let alone pay for science curriculum.

"The problem is all of this is being done during a time when other states and other countries are boosting their science and technology education to make their students and their population more competitive in this global market," said Matt Gray from the California STEM Learning Network.

The other problem is University of California and Cal State both require two years of science for admission. So if you're in a school where you can't take a second class, it'll be tough to get in.

What are the options?

"I go to Carnegie Mellon University," said Richeri.

"I'm going to MIT this fall," said Thomas.

Sounds like a California brain drain.

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