Access to Rigorous Math and Science: A Civil Rights Issue

STEM in HS

All students should have access to a robust and ambitious educational experience and STEM education should be part of that experience. However, our education system struggles to produce skilled workers leaving students ill prepared to compete in a digital global economy.

We are inundated with data that continues to reveal how Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) knowledge and skills have become increasingly critical in order to meet the demands of the 21st century global workforce. The level of skills required to fill these fields are far more rigorous than a decade ago.

At a time when our population is undergoing a significant demographic transition that is reshaping our country, we must not deprive our nation of the benefits the minority talent has to offer.

We have a growing opportunity to leverage the hidden STEM economy, but to get there, we must cure the disparity.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s latest Civil Rights Data Collection – information compiled from all 97,000 of the nation’s public schools – African Americans, Latinos, and English learners have less access, than their white peers, to the kinds of rigorous math and science courses needed for success and many careers – 68 percent of black students attend a high school that actually offers calculus and by comparison, 81 percent of white high school students have the option of taking calculus.

Moreover, the data revealed that:

  • 57 percent of Black students
  • 67 percent Latino students, and
  • 65 percent English learners have less access than their white peers (71 percent) to the kinds of rigorous math and science courses needed for college and many careers.

It is no surprise that African Americans and Latinos remain among the most underrepresented– earning a shrinking share of STEM degrees.

Our students already face so many barriers to opportunity. Access to rigorous math and science education in the classrooms should not be one of them.

 

Wendy Rivera  @WendyRivera_Esq.

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