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California science and math education needs a boost, says UCSF provost

The San Francisco Public Press reported recently about the difficulties schools are having teaching students science and how local biotechnology companies are trying to help schools. The companies want to help students understand science and they also want to promote science as a career option.
 
The University of California, San Francisco is one of the institutions worried about the poor science performance of American students.
 
“We’ve heard it all the way from the top, from the president, that we’re not keeping up with science and math as we should,” said Jeff Bluestone, executive vice chancellor and provost of UCSF said. “I just hope that somewhere along the line here we’ll wake up and start re-investing in our schools.”
 
He said UCSF is working with the city of San Francisco to develop a way to make high school teachers and students excited about science. “If you lose kids early on they won’t come back to science. We also need to educate people who don’t go into science.”
 
The job market has become tougher for Ph.D. students. Bluestone said that could be good for schools if Ph.D. students are looking at other career choices, for example teaching. “It would be great if we had them as teachers because they really understand science,” Bluestone said.
 
Problems in middle school and high school science classes are not visible in the students’ skills in UCSF ultracompetitive programs. In 2010, UCSF Medical School admitted 149 out of more than 6,400 applicants. But one indicator reveals problems at average schools.
 
“We see the ones who have been educated well, but I should say that they’re coming from a more limited background — often private schools,” Bluestone said. “It’s not that we can’t find people who are well trained, but the demographics are different.”