We can begin the new year with some optimism for public education in California. The budget proposal put forth by our new Governor in his first week shows genuine concern for education, with practical moves such as relieving school districts from some of the crushing burden of unfunded pensions and a start toward investing in early education. Our new state Superintendent of Instruction comes with years as a School Board member and has been actively engaged with the East Bay STEM Network, in particular in our current work in early math education. Many newly elected state and local officials ran on promises for stronger investment in education, and the state’s strong economy stokes hopes that some of those promises can be realized.
We’re talking here about a ray of sunshine, not a whole new day. The challenges to California’s public schools, especially in fields including STEM education, are entrenched and profound. But now is a promising moment to recommit to our shared work of impressing our new policy makers with the changes our partners are making for students, families, and educators throughout the region; of compelling them with our research showing the importance of investing in programs such as early math education and building a teacher workforce that is diverse and well prepared; of moving them to action with our collected voices representing the broad range of stakeholders working to build quality STEM education that reaches all our diverse population.