Sacramento– Today, Assembly Republican Whip, Devon J. Mathis (R-Porterville), introduced AB 1923, The Equity in STEM Act. This bill establishes grants for 100 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) Partnership Academic programs, and promotes recruiting students traditionally underrepresented in the STEM fields.

“I’m proud to author AB 1923 which would bring parity to our State’s effective STEM programs,” said Mathis. “These programs are a proven and effective form of learning that enables students to gain the necessary experience and knowledge to pursue a career after graduation. Unfortunately, too few of these programs are situated in underserved areas, such as the Central Valley. Instead, the majority of all existing Partnership Academies are located within only six counties in the state. AB 1923 requires a fair allotment of these programs be located in historically underserved and rural communities.”

According to a report from the Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy at California State University, Sacramento, the supply of STEM-educated workers is not keeping pace with the employment demand in STEM fields. The report noted that only three percent of STEM majors in the state are African-American, and 18 percent are Latino. To ensure that there are enough STEM workers, the report concluded that increasing STEM achievement by underrepresented groups is essential.

“The Central Valley is the fastest growing region in California by population,” said Mathis. “As our communities grow, so to must access to quality educational programs, such as our Partnership Academics. AB 1923 will bolster access to these programs and ensure that more children are provided with the opportunity to be career and college-ready and to thrive in a modern STEM economy.

State legislation launched the California Partnership Academies (CPAs) in 1984. A CPA is a small learning community within a high school facility that contains college-preparatory curriculum organized around a career-related theme. Under the CPA model, a team of teachers works with the same group of students over several years, aligning instruction across disciplines, while employers provide internships and other opportunities for students to learn outside the classroom.