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Chancellor Testifies at Legislative Hearing

UCR Chancellor Testifies at Joint Legislative Hearing on Education at JPL

France Córdova outlines the need to develop home-grown science, math, and engineering talent and what the University of California is doing about it

(January 20, 2006)

Chancellor France A. Córdova

Chancellor France A. Córdova

RIVERSIDE, Calif. UC Riverside Chancellor France A. Córdova testified before a joint State Senate-Assembly hearing at Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Friday, Jan. 20, about the need to attract more young people to mathematics and science careers and to improve the preparation of those who choose to teach those subjects in public schools.

Referencing Thomas Friedman’s latest book, “The World is Flat,” which argues that today’s technological advances and the digital revolution have “flattened” the barriers in trade and politics and made technology leaders more vulnerable to competition, Córdova told State Senator Jack Scott, D-Pasadena, and Assemblywoman Carol Liu, D-La Cañada Flintridge that a key step is preparing highly qualified teachers.

“According to a recent report of the Business-Higher Education Forum, research consistently identifies teachers as the principal variable in math and science education,” Córdova said. “The most powerful predictors of higher achievement in mathematics and science are full certification of the teacher, and a college major in the field he or she teaches.”

To that end, the University of California, the California State University, community colleges and K-12 schools, with the Governor’s office, the state legislature, and private enterprise, have developed a science and mathematics initiative to improve the preparation of mathematics and science teachers in the state.

UC’s part, known as California Teach, strives to quadruple the number of graduates who go on to teach K-12 science and mathematics, to more than 1,000 annually by 2010.

To get there, UC campuses will provide their students the opportunity to complete a science, technology, engineering and mathematics major and the required courses to become an intern credentialed K-12 teacher, Córdova told the hearing. UC also will introduce freshmen and sophomore students to the K-12 classroom through mentored classroom assistantships and seminars taught by UC faculty and K-12 master teachers. The university will also provide intensive summer institutes to help students develop effective teaching skills and will help teachers already in the classroom to become National Board Certified.

Along the way, UC has received help from California’s business community to the tune of more than $4 million, she said, noting that the state has spent $750,000 to support the start of California Teach and is continuing to fund student loan forgiveness for teachers. Another $375,000 in state support is part of the Governor’s budget proposal.

Córdova outlined some UC programs designed to help nurture student interest, prepare teacher candidates and support teachers already in the classroom. Several efforts are already underway at UC Riverside.

Project Copernicus, funded in large part through an $11.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, creates a pipeline for highly-qualified science teachers. A consortium of four-year and community colleges, local school districts and businesses are providing an added $6.7 million in cost-sharing contributions.

The ALPHA Center, UCR’s clearinghouse for student and teacher enrichment resources, has become the headquarters for the UCR P-20 Regional Alliance to increase college attendance and success rates, along with teacher quality.

The Graduate School of Education at UCR is involved in the California Community College Collaborative (C-4) to improve the quality of student learning in the state’s community colleges using the university’s data-driven policy research.

Córdova also mentioned COSMOS, a summer residential program for eighth- through 12th-graders who show achievement in mathematics and science that is offered at UC campuses in Davis, Irvine, San Diego and Santa Cruz. Courses cover topics not traditionally taught in high schools such as astronomy, aerospace engineering, biomedical sciences, wetlands ecology, ocean sciences and robotics.

“With access to laboratories, lectures, and hands-on research, COSMOS participants are provided the type of experiential learning that has been demonstrated to produce our best teachers in the sciences and mathematics,” Córdova said.

The Chancellor’s suggestions for the legislature to help educators keep California on the cutting edge of math and science education included:

  • Support for the joint UC-CSU science and math initiative;

  • funding to prepare under-prepared K-12 students for access to higher education;

  • loan forgiveness programs for undergraduate and graduate students who study in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields and who plan to teach in those areas;

  • and tax incentives for businesses to partner with universities for the benefit of K-12 schools.

Underscoring the need to move quickly, Córdova paraphrased Friedman: "Children, hurry and finish your dinner. Children in China are studying."

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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