Perhaps taking a page from Brooklyn’s Urban Assembly Institute for Math and Science for Young Women, City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn on Monday came to Brooklyn Bridge Park to call for science and math-oriented middle schools in each of the five boroughs.
Mentioning the hurdles that her sister, a geologist, had to go through, Quinn, accompanied by City Councilman Steve Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights-Downtown) said, “Although we recognize how many incredible gains women have made through the decades, we can’t lose sight of how our girls – the next generation of great, powerful women – are supported today.”
Schools such as the one Speaker Quinn wants to establish are known as STEM schools, standing for “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.”
She began her campaign speech with some statistics. Sixty-seven percent of the student body of the prestigious High School for Math, Science and Engineering are girls, she said. In addition, she said, only about a quarter of all students in the city’s public school tech programs are girls.
Why middle schools? she asked rhetorically. “That’s when girls start to lag behind boys, especially in the sciences. Before that, they’re ahead of the boys in school.” Therefore, she said, that’s when girls need most support.
The inclusion of young women in science- and tech-related professions is critical, she said, because employment in this sector of the economy is growing twice as fast as employment in general. Still, however, only six our of every 100 ninth-graders – male or female – ends up with a STEM degree.
After the press conference, several reporters asked Quinn questions about her campaign. She was jubilant about being endorsed by the New York Post, the New York Daily News and the New York Times, saying, “That’s quite a trick to pull out of a hat.”
Asked about fiscal austerity, she stressed that for every program she has proposed, she has identified places in the budget where it can be funded.
Although she said that no candidates can absolutely predict whether they will have to raise taxes, “I’m the only candidate who can say that on 70 occasions unions came to me with requests for `pension sweeteners,’ and most times I said no. I have nothing against giving them raises, but we don’t want to do anything will break the bank later on.”