The Spokesman-Review editorial board is blunt and correct:
A critical pipeline to Washington’s future economic success is far too narrow.
The editorial builds on Opportunity for All: Investing in Washington State’s STEM Education Pipeline, released in November by the Boston Consulting Group. The report finds (from press release):
Only 9 out of 100 children born in Washington will ultimately become employees in a field related to science, technology, engineering, and math (collectively known as STEM) in the state—far fewer than the number of people needed to fill Washington jobs requiring STEM-related skills. The situation is worse for low-income students, who are two to three times less well prepared for the STEM workforce than their more affluent peers…
BCG identifies five chokepoints, from early learning to K-12, in the transition to college, in postsecondary education and in career choices/opportunities.
The Spokesman-Review editorial cites the need to expand teacher training.
Recently, employers and educators, including Spokane Public Schools Superintendent Shelley Redinger, signed a letter urging the Legislature to widen the computer science pipeline. There are 20,000 available jobs, the letter notes, but colleges and universities graduated only 1,200 students with computer science degrees last year. Furthermore, only 7 percent of high schools offer an Advanced Placement computer science class.
As we noted previously, the career opportunities are here now. We need to be sure our students the educational opportunities the careers require.