Gov. Brown proposes science cuts as money saver


Conducting Chemistry: Chemistry teacher Giel Muller helps Media Academy junior Nazario Matias conduct electricity with batteries on March 2. California is considering reducing science requirements to graduate high school from two years to one year.

California may lower the number of required high school science classes next school year at a time when the country has more science jobs available and fewer Americans educated to fill them.

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed to lower the high school graduation requirement for science from two years to one year in the 2012-2013 state budget to save the state $200 million a year. However, it is unclear how the money will be saved.

Even if the graduation requirements are lowered, students who want to go to a California State University or University of California campus would still need to take at least one biological science class and one physical science class.

Many Fremont Federation of High School educators do not believe lowering the requirements would benefit students.

“High school should prepare students for college,” said Sarah Mazzotta, who worked as an engineer and then a science teacher before becoming assistant principal of Media Academy. “Students need to be encouraged to take as many math and science classes because the high-paying jobs are in math and science.”

According to the New York Times, a mathematics and computer science major makes $98,000 a year on average while a psychology major makes $29,000 a year.

If the proposal is approved, school districts will still have the option of offering more than one high school science course.

Mazzotta said she does not believe Oakland Unified School District would lower the science requirement if the state budget proposal is passed.

“The district has made the right call in the past few years,” said Mazzotta. “They are moving in the right direction, so I don’t think they will take away second-year science classes.”

Still, College Preparatory & Architecture Academy science teacher Editha Soliman is worried that if graduation requirements are lowered, students will be discouraged from taking more than one science class.

“They won’t meet A-G [requirements], and they will have less chances of getting into UCs and CSUs,” said Soliman. “Some students just fulfill the [graduation] requirements, but other students want to go farther.”

Media Academy sophomore Luis Elias believes that if the graduation requirements were lowered “students would take just one science class.”

Stephanie Quiñonez, a senior at CPAA, agrees with Elias.

“It’s a bad idea,” Quiñonez said. “They’ll only take one because they will say, ‘What’s the point?’ — unless they really like science.”

Quiñonez said students should still be required to take two science classes.

“When you take two, you get better prepared for when you go to college,” Quiñonez said.

Soliman believes science classes are vital to students’ education.

“They need science because it is also a math class,” said Soliman. “It’s a venue for students to practice math skills and develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.”

The governor will update his budget proposal in May.