Thurmond’s $200 Million STEM Education Grant Program Passes Education Committee

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SACRAMENTO – AB 2186, authored by Assemblymember Thurmond, creates a statewide grant program that will fund increased access to high-quality Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education for California’s students. This bill passed out of the Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday, April 25.

“To succeed in this information-based and increasingly technological society, our students need access to high-quality STEM educational opportunities,” Thurmond said. “Employment in STEM occupations has exceeded the pace of employment in non-STEM occupations over the last decade. This bill addresses some of the biggest barriers to STEM education by providing funding to increase access, with an emphasis on early exposure and programs that incorporate the arts.”

Employment opportunities in the STEM fields are rapidly increasing compared to non-STEM jobs. 1.4 million STEM jobs are expected by 2022 and there is a current 2 to 1 ratio of open STEM jobs to qualified applicants. In 2015, STEM workers earned 29% more than their non-STEM counterparts.

Thurmond’s bill, AB 2186, provides $200 million in grants to schools for grades K-12. School districts and county offices of education may apply for grants to fund professional development for STEM educators, establish teacher recruitment and retention programs, and purchase new instructional material aligned with the new state science standards. The bill also includes funds specifically for computer science education and STEM education in rural school districts.

Thurmond, who chairs the Assembly Select Committee on STEM Education, has convened a number of hearings and workgroups with many stakeholders, including parents, students, education officials and industry partners to develop this bill which is aimed at ensuring that STEM education is a statewide priority and students have equitable access.

AB 2186 is sponsored by the California STEM Network. The bill is supported by the California Science Teachers Association, Code.org, Common Sense Kids Action, Microsoft, National Education Foundation, San Joaquin County Office of Education, San Francisco Unified School District, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.