California STEM Network News – April 2021

CDE Expanded Learning Joins Network Monthly Call

Chris Brazeale of the California Department of Education’s (CDE) Expanded Learning Division joined the California STEM Network for the April 2021 Network cCall. He shared with those in attendance information about the new Expanded Learning Opportunities Grants (ELO Grants). ELO Grants were created and funded by AB 86 when it was signed into law by Governor Newsom on March 25, 2021., allocating $4.6 billion to the grant program. In order to receive the funding, local education agencies (LEAs) must submit an ELO Grant plan. The plan must be approved by June 1 at a public meeting of their governing board. These grants present an excellent opportunity for LEAs to partner with community partners and expanded learning programs to provide summer learning and enrichment, professional development for teachers, and other similar activities. ELO grant funds may be used for eligible expenses from July 1, 2020 – August 31, 2022. For more information visit CDE’s website or participate in one of these upcoming events.
CDE Foundation Lunch Bites Webinar: Creative Partnerships for Expanding Learning Opportunities Grant

Friday, April 30; 1:00 – 1:30 PM

Special Guests: Exploratorium, Lawrence Hall of Science, & California Science Center

Join CDE Foundation for a special round-table discussion featuring the Exploratorium, the Lawrence Hall of Science, and the California Science Center.

  • Are you a non-profit or expanded learning organization curious about how to partner with a school district to serve students’ learning recovery needs?
  • Are you an educator wondering how to partner with a museum, library, or non-profit to provide engaging, hands-on learning experiences for your students?
  • Need professional development specific to the academic and social-emotional health of your students?

Cost: Free
A Whole Child Approach to the AB86 Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) Grant Convening

Wednesday, May 5; 9:00 AM- 3:00 PM

The California AfterSchool Network, California Department of Education (CDE) Expanded Learning Division, and the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) are collaborating to offer ALL CA Educators and Educational Leaders, of all sectors, an opportunity to participate in a free virtual convening, to support A Whole Child Approach to the AB86 ELO Grant.

Cost: Free


President Biden Proposes Additional Funding for STEM & Higher Education

This month President Biden released his request to the U.S. Senate for Fiscal Year 2022 discretionary funding, which included several funding increases for higher education. If enacted, the plan would:

  • Increase Pell Grants: An additional $3 billion would go toward funding federal Pell Grants, increasing the maximum award by $400 – the largest one-time increase in more than a decade. (The current maximum is $6,495.) Dreamers, immigrants brought by their parents to the United States without permission as children, would also be eligible for the grants. President Biden says the funding is part of a larger effort to double the maximum Pell award.
  • Increase Education Department funding: The plan increases funding to the Education Department by nearly $30 billion, or 41% of the previous year’s budget level. Total funding would be $102.8 billion.
  • Increase funding for the NSF: The request includes $10.2 billion for the National Science Foundation, a $1.7 billion or 20% increase from the 2021 funding level.
  • Support for minority-serving institutions: The plan calls for an additional $600 million for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges and universities, and other minority-serving institutions, as well as “low-resourced institutions,” including community colleges.
  • Upgrade STEM paths at minority-serving institutions: The request increases research funding opportunities at HBCUs and minority-serving institutions, while also investing in their lab and IT infrastructure. The plan would additionally fund workforce development programs in STEM at those institutions.
  • Fund women’s programs at minority-serving institutions: The plan gives $1 billion to the Department of Justice for Violence Against Women Act programs, including funding to support women at HBCUs, Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges, “to ensure these institutions have the same resources as other schools to address this pervasive issue.”
  • Fund renewables at tribal colleges: The plan calls for $450 million to facilitate climate mitigation and resilience projects in Indian country, including “investment to begin the process of transitioning tribal colleges to renewable energy.”
  • Attract minority students to STEM: The request provides a $20 million increase for the Office of STEM Engagement to “expand initiatives to attract and retain underserved and underrepresented students in engineering and other STEM fields, in partnership with minority serving institutions and other higher education institutions.” The increase would be 16% of the current enacted budget for those initiatives.

The plan requires congressional approval, and congressional Republicans will likely object to some of the President’s chosen investments. You can read the full story here.

If you are offering a STEM program in the Bay Area this summer, be sure to register or update your program in the STEM Resource Inventory.


Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond Sponsors Legislation to Increase Diversity in the Teaching Profession

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond is sponsoring legislation that seeks to increase diversity in the teaching profession. Assembly Bill 520, authored by Assembly Member Mike Gipson (Carson, CA), which would establish the California Diversifying the Teacher Workforce Grant Program. The purpose of this legislation is to support new or existing LEA programs geared toward recruiting and retaining educators of color; the bill would make available $15 million in grant funds to eligible LEAs.

Men of color comprise less than 10% of California’s teaching force, with Black and Latino men making up 1 and 2%, respectively, of their peers. Data show that only one-third of teachers are non-white, even though students of color make up about three-quarters of California’s student population.

Statistics show that teachers are leaving high-need schools when they do not have the support strategies in place to help develop their teaching skills. Often times, Black and Latino educators feel that they are not valued and find frustration at being expected to take on extra duties without compensation or the necessary support systems. As a result, teachers of color leave the teaching profession more often than their white peers.

The California STEM Network is supporting AB 520 because it is essential that LEAs equip, cultivate, and bolster teachers of color within their schools to improve their sense of belonging and job satisfaction. In addition, LEAs that foster an environment of professional development are more likely to attract and retain teachers, particularly in high-need schools. As a state, California must prioritize and invest in supporting and retaining teachers of color and we commend both Superintendent Thurmond and Assembly Member Gipson for championing this issue. This legislation is currently pending on the Suspense File in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which means the author and sponsor are working with the committee and legislative leadership to secure the state funding needed to implement this program.


CTC Releases 2019-2020 Report on Teacher Supply

This month, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) released its data on the numbers and types of new documents (credentials, permits, and waivers) issued in 2019-2020. This data was released as a part of CTC’s annual report to the legislature on teacher supply. An analysis of the data shows that in 2019-2020, 31% of all STEM documents issued were short-term or provisional permits (STPs or PIPs) or waivers. As of November 2019, the California Department of Education defines teachers who hold these documents as ineffective (PIPs and STPs) or out-of-field (waivers).

At its meeting this month, the CTC Commissioners provided numerous comments on the report, including noting the need to diversify the educator workforce (2019-2020 diversity data will be available later this year), the increased enrollment in private vs. public teacher preparation programs, and the low and declining number of CTE credentials. The most powerful comments came from Student Liaison Kori Jones.

  • I honestly believe that recruitment starts at the beginning. So, not when we are students in college, but when we are students. [sic] I’ve heard a lot of you mention about black students in specifics, but then also students of color and saying how we want that to increase and we really have to think about when they are students, when they are in elementary school, how are they being treated? Do they see being a teacher as being a great thing? Do they see being a teacher as a thing they want to do when they get older? [sic] That’s why it is so important that we are taking a stand as a Commission for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and also that our institutions of higher education also takes that stand. Because when they are teaching our teachers, they’re also recruiting our population. They’re recruiting our students. Our teachers have the most access to all the people who are going to become something one day. So, I think it is really important that [sic] we educate our teachers [sic] in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion. Because historically, students of colors experience, specifically black students hasn’t been so positive. So, to expect for them to want to flood in and be teachers, there has to be a lot of support there. From day one teachers are showing that this is something that they can do, should do and be a part of.


Assembly Higher Education Committee Approves Reforms to Cal Grant Program

On April 22, the Assembly Higher Education Committee approved Assembly Bill 1456 authored by Assembly Members Medina and McCarty, and Senator Leyva, which would dramatically expand access to student financial aid by reforming the Cal Grant Program.

The creation of the Cal Grant entitlement was a crowning achievement in its time and remains a leading state grant program to this day. As strong as the program is, it does have structural limitations: eligible applicants outside of the “entitlement” window have to compete for a very limited number of awards, and the value of students’ stipends for non-tuition costs has fallen dramatically. With amendments from the committee, AB 1456 would address both of these issues that have disproportionately impacted students attending California community colleges (CCC).

Ensuring that all students receive the awards for which they are eligible remains an urgent priority for the California STEM Network and a key reform reflected in AB 1456. With less than 10% of CCC students currently receiving a Cal Grant, the bill’s extension of the Cal Grant entitlement to the lowest income CCC students (those eligible for the maximum federal Pell Grant), regardless of age or prior academic merit, is a major policy milestone that ensures tens of thousands more Californians will have access to financial resources they need to support them on their higher education paths.

AB 1456 would protect the access award from dropping below the current maximum of $1,656. This amount currently covers just 9% of students’ non-tuition college costs, which can exceed $20,000 annually for many students across all types of colleges and maintaining the award’s value is a crucial step in moving towards covering students’ total college costs. In addition, the legislation includes a much-needed automatic annual growth factor by tying the Cal Grant 2 access award to the California Consumer Price Index to avoid the level of stagnation that the award has experienced over the years.

The bill now moves on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee where it has yet to be set for hearing.


NSF Grant Opportunities – STEM Education

Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Proposal Preparation Webinars

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) will offer two proposal preparation webinars for the NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. The submission deadline for proposals for the NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program is August 31, 2021.

Register for the Webinars 
May 5: Tracks 1-3 & Capacity Building
May 6: Track 4 Research

If you register for the webinar and can’t attend, the archive will be available on demand.

New Noyce Program Solicitation: NSF 21-578 Questions: Contact [email protected]

Racial Equity in STEM Education

Persistent racial injustices and inequalities in the United States have led to renewed concern and interest in addressing systemic racism. The NSF Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) seeks to support bold, ground-breaking, and potentially transformative projects addressing systemic racism in STEM. Proposals should advance racial equity in STEM education and workforce development through research (both fundamental and applied) and practice. Core to this funding opportunity is that proposals are led by, or developed and led in authentic partnership with, individuals and communities most impacted by the inequities caused by systemic racism. The voices, knowledge, and experiences of those who have been impacted by enduring racial inequities should be at the center of these proposals, including in, for example: project leadership and research positions, conceptualization of the proposal, decision-making processes, and the interpretation and dissemination of evidence and research results. The proposed work should provide positive outcomes for the individuals and communities engaged and should recognize peoples’ humanity, experiences, and resilience. Visit their website for more information including proposal deadlines, informational webinars, and a more detailed synopsis of the opportunity.