Concerned about a projected serious shortfall of well-educated workers by the year 2000, TRW Inc., the Redondo Beach-based producer of aerospace and automotive products and information systems, announced Wednesday that it will donate $1 million over the next 10 years to help establish a special math and science high school on the Cal State Dominguez Hills campus.
Called the California Academy of Mathematics and Science, the comprehensive high school is a joint project of the California State University system and the Long Beach and Compton school districts. Scheduled to open in the fall of 1990, it will draw students from throughout the Los Angeles Basin, concentrating in particular on women and minorities. Teachers will be recruited from local school districts, universities and private industry.
Cal State officials said the school will be the first of its kind in the state, offering accelerated math and science courses as part of a comprehensive high school curriculum that could enable students to enroll as college sophomores upon graduation.
“I’m here to make an investment in my company’s future,” Edsel D. Dunford, executive vice president and general manager of TRW’s space and defense sector, said at a news conference at the Cal State Dominguez Hills campus in Carson.
The high school’s basic funding will come from the state, which finances kindergarten- through-12th-grade education on a per-pupil basis. TRW will provide $100,000 a year over the next decade, and academy officials said they are counting on receiving similar donations from other local aerospace, engineering and computer firms to help offset the higher costs of running a specialized school.
Academy Principal Kathy Clark said the four-year high school will offer educational experiences that are difficult to obtain at regular high schools, including opportunities to collaborate on research projects with university faculty and work-study relationships with “mentors” in private industry. All students will study biology, chemistry and earth sciences each year, another departure from the typical high school curriculum.
The academy initially will recruit from 60 schools in the Torrance, Inglewood, Lawndale, Los Angeles, Compton and Long Beach school districts. Clark said the school will aim for a student body that is 60% to 70% black and Latino. It will open with 100 ninth-graders and have a total enrollment of 500 by 1993.
Transportation--which has been a problem for the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, the only other countywide specialized high school--will be provided to the academy, she added. Students must arrange their own transportation to the arts school, located on the Cal State Los Angeles campus.
The math and science academy had been controversial because of the Compton school district’s fears that it would drain away its best students. But academy officials agreed to draw no more than two students from each school except with the school district’s approval and to recruit students who may lack good grades but who show potential.
California State University Chancellor Ann Reynolds said American students lag behind their counterparts in most other industrialized nations in math and science ability and that the record is particularly dismal among women and minorities. Last year, for instance, the nation’s colleges and universities produced only one black and three Latino Ph.D. holders in math, Reynolds said. By the year 2000, the nation faces a shortage of 500,000 math and science professionals.
Noting that junior high school is where most students lose interest in the subjects, Reynolds said, “We’re very eager to correct the lost momentum in science and math education in this country.”