Chevron gives $1M to CSUBFebruary 23, 2007
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Chevron Corp. today announced it is making a $1 million gift to California State University, Bakersfield to help raise the interest and improve the performance of middle, junior high and high school students in mathematics and science.
The gift, which will cover three years, will focus on increasing student interest and achievement in math and science by promoting professional development for classroom teachers.
"I can't thank Chevron and Warner Williams enough for this generous gift," said CSUB President Horace Mitchell. "I know it is made with great foresight and anticipation of improving participation and study of the sciences among pre-college students in Bakersfield and Kern County. As a company that hires people with science and engineering degrees, Chevron knows only too well the importance of developing a local labor pool from which to draw. This signifies the company's long-term commitment to the community to expand that pool.
"I know I speak for not only the university but also the community when I say 'Thank you, Chevron.' We appreciate your confidence in us, and will do everything possible to make our mutual vision a reality."
"Chevron depends on a workforce skilled in math and science," said Williams, vice president, Chevron North America San Joaquin Valley Business Unit. "Therefore, part of our community investment budget is targeted to math and science education. Today's youth will be solving tomorrow's problems, and we embrace the belief that we have an opportunity and responsibility to help prepare them to meet the challenges ahead.
"CSUB's Initiative for the Advancement of Mathematics and Science Education program provides the perfect opportunity for our organizations to work together at the middle school, junior high, and high school levels to help feed the country's pipeline of future science and math professionals with promising diverse candidates."
The gift marks the second time in two years that Chevron has responded to acute local needs. On Feb. 21, 2005, Chevron and CSUB announced a $600,000 grant to the university to help boost preschool literacy.
This year's grant addresses the problem that not enough students are entering the science and math fields, Mitchell said. The problem is compounded by the fact that fewer students lead to fewer math and science teachers.
The demand for new mathematics and science teachers in California in the next five years is projected to exceed 22,000, and annual statewide production of teachers in these fields currently averages 2,000, according to a study by the CSU Chancellor's Office. "CSU is the largest producer of math and science teachers in the state, preparing half the teachers in these fields," said Joan Bissell, director of teacher education and public school programs in the Chancellor's Office. "Long-term recruitment efforts and strategies to retain newly trained teachers are critical on CSU campuses to help in meeting the significant projected shortages in these fields."
Science, mathematics, and technology are central to California's economic strength. However, production of qualified scientific and technical workers in the state has been falling for some time. The California Council on Science and Technology's 2002 report "Critical Path Analysis of California's Science and Technology Education System" documented alarming increases in attrition rates of students between the ninth and 12th grades and difficulties at every level of the education system. But one of the most disturbing factors identified in the report as contributing to poor student performance in science and math is the shortage of qualified teachers, particularly in areas with high concentrations of poor, minority and English language learning students.
It is widely recognized that teacher quality is one of the most important determinants of student achievement. Yet 10 percent of all secondary school teachers in California lacked appropriate qualifications as of the 2002-2003 school year, according to the California Council on Science and Technology's report. Among science teachers the rate averaged 12 to 13 percent and among math teachers the rate was 15 percent.
Also disturbing is that California fourth and eighth grade students ranked last in science proficiency among 40 states evaluated by the U.S. Department of Education in its most recent National Assessment of Educational Process (2000), and well below the national average in math (2003). This suggests serious shortcomings in the quality of science teaching in the early grades.
"While the state has adopted a set of ambitious academic standards, and worked to expand and improve teacher production, the shortage of qualified teachers has actually risen in science and math," Mitchell said. "The university and Chevron are coming together to address this problem here in Bakersfield."
The program to be developed from Chevron's grant will focus on both students and teachers, and will involve both the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the School of Education. "We want to get students in the middle schools, junior highs and high schools excited about studying science and math," Mitchell said. "We also want to work with teachers to better prepare them to teach these subjects and enhance their knowledge.
"Our goal is to prepare students to study those subjects at the university level, and to enter careers where those skills are needed," Mitchell said. "We want to have better prepared students and better prepared teachers."