Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
State of Education in California Panel
Competitive Crisis Summit
University of Southern California
Davidson Conference Center
September 19, 2008

Thank you, Warren (Baker).

We truly are dealing with a crisis, and let me use these words: urgency – passion – moral courage.

This is a competitive world, and the United States is slipping. We need to better use our human capital. We cannot just talk about it anymore – we need to do something about it.

Just two days ago our Board of Trustees heard a report on what the California State University is doing in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) areas to help during this crisis.

I will share some of what we talked about, but first:

Fact #1: I have said this since I came to California more than 10 years ago: if the public schools get better, the California State University will get better.

We must be stronger partners with our K-12 colleagues and align our standards if we are to make any headway in strengthening our education continuum so students succeed.

Our Early Assessment Program (EAP) is designed to do that; to let 11th graders know if they are on track for college level work in English and math. Only 50 percent are ready for math, and only 30 percent for English classes. This is why the CSU also supports the school districts adopting the rigorous A-G courses since that is what the CSU, which takes the top one-third of students, and the UC, which takes the top one-twelfth of students, require to get into college.

Fact # 2: I made a commitment four years ago to double the number of math and science teachers we produce, from 750 to 1,500 annually by 2010.

We are ahead of schedule – we have increased from 750 to 1,289, a 68 percent increase.

But it is not good enough, and I told the trustees that.

Fact #3: Even though I took a lot of heat for it, I supported the Governor and the

State Board of Education’s adoption of Algebra I as the math standard for all of California’s 8th graders.

We have to set the bar high. We must have high expectations and standards for our students.

California’s economy has prospered because of the strength of the workforce produced by CSU, UC and the community colleges. These innovators and entrepreneurs are the people who made this state the eighth largest economy in the world.

The problem is that we used to be the fifth largest economy. We need to figure out how to move up before we slide further down.

The CSU graduated more than 92,000 students this past June.

The STEM graduates were:

Biological Sciences: 2,766
Engineering: 5,193
Information Sciences: 1,865
Mathematics: 944
Physical Science: 803
Total: 11,571

Each field showed an increase from last year, which is good. But it is not good enough if we are to reclaim our economic position and produce a skilled workforce.

Increasing the number of graduates in STEM fields is not the only problem.

We need to focus on our greatest challenge: getting the underserved student, the student of color, the low-income student, to graduate high school, start college, graduate and move into the workforce.

Of 100 white kindergartners, 93 graduate high school, 65 go to college and 33 get a bachelor’s degree. Of 100 black kindergartners, 87 graduate high school, 50 go to college and 18 get a bachelor’s degree. Of 100 Latino kindergartners, 63 graduate high school, 32 go to college, and 11 get a bachelor’s degree. We need to significantly raise the number of black and Latino students who get their degrees.

Nationwide, almost 30 percent of high school students drop out. Too many of those dropouts are the underserved students. Of 10,000 middle school students who are in the bottom economic quartile, 710 eventually get a college degree, but only 30 of those are in the STEM fields. Again, we have to reverse these trends.

That means too many young people are going into unproductive jobs rather than productive careers.

So what is the CSU doing about this?

Here is what we talked about at our recent Trustees’ meeting:

Strategies to Increase Math and Science Teachers:

  • Giving $2.25 million annually to campuses to develop flexible credential pathways
  • Creating a statewide recruitment “toolkit” for all campuses
  • Developing online math and science credential programs for the state

Finding Additional Funding:

  • The Bechtel Foundation has provided $278,000 for a math and science teacher model transfer program
  • The National Science Foundation gave $2.7 million in new Noyce Scholarship Grants to four campuses
  • The CSU now has more of these grants than any other system.

Algebra Focus:

  • Continue to increase more middle and high school math teachers
  • 3,000 more needed with the new requirement
  • Offer professional development in pre-algebra and algebra content for current K-8 teachers
  • Prepare K-8 mathematics specialists
  • Strengthen math preparation for elementary teacher candidates
  • Provide tutoring through Federal Work Study and GEAR UP

Statewide K-12 STEM Reform Initiative:

  • Partner with the California Council on Science and Technology
  • Get statewide agreement on a blueprint for STEM education reform
  • Establish a leadership group of government, business, and education
  • Design and test a STEM Innovation and Learning Network

Heading this initiative is Warren and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I want to thank him for taking the lead in this critical area of comprehensive reform of P-12 STEM education.


  • Collaborating with federal science agencies to enable teacher candidates to participate in frontiers of science
  • 30 students from 12 CSU campuses engaged in leading edge research at major research labs this summer
  • CSU’s future science teachers were engaged in research at NASA Ames and other prestigious labs

As Warren said at our Trustees’ meeting, we do have other grant proposals out, including one to the Gates Foundation, to help us further in our STEM efforts.

Preparing Teachers:

What we really need to do is reach further down into the schools to get young people ready in the elementary grades to take and pass Algebra I.

That means the CSU needs to prepare our teachers better. It is the responsibility of the entire university to prepare teachers.

Teacher preparation needs to be on the front burner for our presidents, provosts, deans, and department chairs. Everyone has to realize the importance of producing great teachers - not just good teachers - so that children learn what they need to know to succeed from grade to grade and into college.

The CSU produces 60 percent of the teachers, so we must focus on this issue

Our first-year teacher evaluation surveys show that we do a good job, but we haven’t been making much progress. We are not getting worse, but we aren’t getting better, and that worries me. With the pipeline of young people in our schools soon to be the underserved student of color, we need to get better.

We need to learn how to teach to a different population. We need to be innovative in how we reach these students and families, many of whom have never been to college and who do not speak English as a first language.

For example: we need to work closer with “Just for Kids,” which has statistical data on schools across the state. They have compared schools with identical characteristics, and can show which ones are having better success at teaching students.

We have given that information to our provosts so that they know what schools need more professional development. We can model what those good teachers are doing for the other schools.

This is what I mean by reaching down into the schools and being helpful. We cannot stay in our university buildings – we need to get out to the schools and partner better. We need to form partnerships with businesses that hire our graduates, with community and parent organizations and with local elected officials.

This strong advocacy group can go to the governor and legislators to convince them to invest more in the STEM fields for professional development and capital needs such as up-to-date labs.

We also need to find ways to encourage college students to go into teaching math or science. We have to make it more attractive financially, and we have to develop more internships for these students in laboratories and businesses where they can rub shoulders with those in the field and pick up knowledge that they can pass on when they become teachers.

Population change and growth:

In 2040, people of color will be nearing the majority in this country. Here in California, that is already happening.

In the CSU, 56 percent of our students are students of color.

We need to produce more teachers who look like them. Our outreach efforts include:

  • Super Sundays – African Americans
  • PIQE – 8,000 Latina moms
  • Underserved Asian communities
  • 2.5 million posters

This week the U.S. Department of Education released its 10-year forecast of education statistics.

In our public universities and colleges, the population will increase from 13.2 million in 2005 to 14.9 million in 2017. More women than men will continue to receive bachelor’s degrees – 57.5 percent awarded to women in 2005-06 will increase to 58.2 percent in 2017-18.

And for the first time, in 2015-16, women will overtake men in the number of professional degrees awarded. Traditionally, there have been more women teachers than men, and if these statistics hold, it will remain the same. What we need to do is get more of these women into the STEM fields and then into teaching in those areas.

Professional Science Master’s Degrees:

  • CSU has the largest Professional Science Master’s program in the US
  • These programs provide technical and business skills needed to succeed in our tech-oriented workforce
  • The Sloan Foundation has awarded CSU $1.365 million
  • The CSU Executive Board for the PSM program includes many of the state’s top industry leaders
  • The CSU is a model program cited by the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Association of System Heads
  • San José State has established a new PSM program in medical product development management
  • Abbott gave San José $100,000 and also scholarships
  • This program will supply highly skilled workers essential to the state’s future economy who can operate easily in lab and business settings.

In Summary:

There are challenges facing all of us. It will require real work and collaboration.

If we do nothing, or just let things go the way they are going, our legacy will be shameful. And decades from now, people will say, “Why didn’t those educators do something?”

Let’s not let that happen. Let’s make a difference for California’s residents, workforce and economy. Thank you.