Growth in STEM offerings reflect rising job demands

Julianne Alvares, Opinion Editor

The growth of jobs in Silicon Valley’s STEM careers has led to an increase in enrollment in Project Lead the Way and other STEM-focused classes.

The current movement toward growing tech careers was initiated by former President Barack Obama in 2015 in an effort to raise the United States’ global rank in science and math. In the Silicon Valley, 21.9 percent of jobs
are in the STEM field as of May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Silicon Valley is second in percent- age of STEM jobs, only outdone by California-Lexington Park,Maryland.
Engineering is an key component part of both STEM and the world as a whole.
“If you don’t have people who are gonna get inspired and have knowledge to be able to pursue what they’re gonna pursue and what they’re gonna make and revolutionize then you’re not going to anywhere in your society.” said
engineering student sophomore Phoebe Roach.

Students know how important this emphasis is, especially considering Branham’s location in the Silicon Valley.
“It’s [engineering] is what makes money here,” said Roach.
Branham has not been spared from this growth in STEM. Project Lead the Way which was introduced to Branham in 2013. PLTW classes at Branham are Introduction to Engineering Design for freshmen and sophomores, Principles of Engineering for sophomore and juniors, Digital Electronics for juniors and seniors and Engineering Design and Development for seniors. Last year Branham also introduced the AP Computer Science class last year.
These classes help students with math and engineering skills important in the real world.

According to statistics compiled by the California Department of Education, in the 2013-14 school year, there were 153 students enrolled in AP math courses; in the 2016-17 year, there were 225. There were only two AP math
classes offered in 2013-14 and that number increased to three by 2016-2017.  This growth may be caused by parents putting pressure on taking STEM classes and even forcing students to take them.  There has also been pressure put on by the government with Obama emphasizing these programs. Obama planned to hire 100,000 special STEM teachers over the next 10 years and wanted colleges to have 1 million students graduate with STEM

Despite the growth of STEM careers in the Silicon Valley, students also have interests in other subjects. Enrollment in other AP classes, such as English, has also increased. According to enrollment statistics from the Department of Education in 2009, 85 students were involved in these “other” classes by 2013 that number was up to 501.

Some parents may continue to push their students to engineering and like-classes despite other interests.
“There are parents probably pushing students into the class,” observed Roach.

This problem has become such an concern that faculty debated making the Computer Science class an AP course, hoping to drive away students who were only there for AP credit and not the love of the subject.  This idea of pushing students towards a certain career can affect students performance.

While the debate about pushing students into STEM classes has not been settled, the STEM job market continues to grow in both the Bay Area and around the country.