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essentially all present-day physics, chemistry, earth science, and biology courses and texts which are obsolete and inappropriate to the needs of the vast majority of students.
Rather than try to develop course content in each of the 16,000 school districts of the 0.s., which would be wasteful and inefficient, and for which we could never assemble the needed concentration of expertise, it is important to have national efforts. The local schools can build their curricula by selecting and sequencing from among a variety of high quality and appropriate alternatives. National efforts have the benefit of widespread involvement of thousands of teachers in field trials and evaluation, assuring local school input into alternatives which are produced. Local schools also can adapt nationally produced materials for their special needs.
We need national course development efforts with teams of scientists, science teachers, science educators, and learning specialists, working in cooperation with publishers, equipment manufacturers, and computer and software companies. These course development projects should design courses with applications and labs that use modern microelectronics and computers.
Building Science Education Leadership
In one of our projects at NSTA, the Search for Excellence in Science Education, we have discovered important information about the teachers who have been leaders in creating excellent programs. Their average age is 51, and they have been teaching 17 years. These were the people who began their careers immediately before Sputnik and wh participated most heavily in NSF institutes and projects.
If the nation is to build leadership and concentrate on meritorious programs, funding initiatives must increase the size of this leadership pool. Thus, there should be a national program component at NSF aimed at providing support for our best science and math teaching personnel to participate in conferences, workshops, institutes, and advanced degree programs.
The NSF has the staff, the organization, and the experience in research, development, teacher institutes, and undergraduate programs. Even with the severe reductions of staff in science education, many remain who were associated with development, course improvement, teacher education, and public understanding of science. The NSF has offered important programs through TV (3-2-1 CONTACT, NOVA, etc.), science museums, and other media to inform and educate both youth and adults in science education.
In the last session of Congress, there were some 17 bills introduced to address the crisis in science education. In the current session several of these have been reintroduced, and others are being prepared.
National Science Board Neglect
The NSP has the authorization to maintain the health of science and the science education which feeds science. The existence of the present crisis and the variety of Congressional initiatives are clear evidence that the NSF policy-making body, the National Science Board, has been negligent over a long period of time. They set policy and recommend programs and budgets to support those programs. In an effort to protect and promote support for scientific research, the NSB has systematically reduced support for science education over a twenty-year period. We now face the consequences of that long-term neglect.
Jerrold Zacharias, former MIT Research Scientist, has stated the problem with the NSB well:
"...the Education Directorate lat NSF) is struggling against
The following graph shows clearly how science education programs were allowed to deteriorate.
Reconstituting the National Science Board
Although the statute governing the NSB appointments makes clear that eminent persons from science education should be among Board members, the NSB is heavily dominated by research scientists, university administrators, or persons representing other sectors that directly benefit from scientific research. We have no desire to place on the Board "educationists" or educators who do not know science. Although there are many outstanding and eminent persons in science education, including persons with superb scientific credentials, none are included on the NSB. Science education includes science teachers at all levels, local and state science supervisors, and the science educators who do research on how people learn science and math. It also includes those in schools of education who prepare secondary school teachers. Many of these people have excellent Scientific credentials, as well as experience and knowledge in science education. There is no valid reason for excluding such persons from the policy making body of an agency having as a major mission science education.
The Senate should direct the NSF to honor the enabling legislation which requires an appropriate balance of NSB members, to include persons with science education knowledge and expertise. We should not, as in the past, be forced to rely entirely on the oversight and wisdom of Congress to impose science education programs on an agency which has that function as a primary mission.
Re-establishing a Science Education Directorate
If The NSF is to accept its responsibilities for science education "at all levels", then the Science Education Directorate, which was eliminated by the Foundation, should be re-established by statute, as was done by the House of Representatives last year.
Among the various Bills coming out of the U.s. House of Representatives relative to the science education crisis, one stands out as most likely to offer promise. It is H.R. 1310, and may be summarized as follows:
H.R. 1310 merges two previously introduced bills, Perkins' H.R. 30 which would have given money to State Education Agencies (SEAS) and Local Education Agencies (LEAS), primarily as entitlements, and to institutions of higher education for science and math instruction improvement, and Fuqua's H.R. 7130 which would have given money to institutions of higher education to improve the country's production of scientifically and technically trained personnel.
At 7:20 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, 1983, the House passed H.R. 1310 by an overwhelming majority of 348 to 54. There was strong bipartisan support for the measure, as indicated by almost a two-toone Republican vote for the Bill.
Title I of H.R. 1310 provides up to $ 250 million to states (and through them also to the LEA's) for needs assessment and planning, then per sonnel training, and then purchase of equipment, etc. In addition, H.R. 1310 provides an appropriate division of responsibility between NSF and the Department of Education in other areas where support is needed. The Education Department will receive $ 20 million for 5,000 one-year scholarships, $5 million for Minority Institutions Improvement, and another $20 million for institutes. The NSF will receive $10 million for course improvement programs, $15 million for institutes, and $5 million for research in science and math education. The NSF will also receive another $100 million, $15 million of which is for pre-college improvement, $20 million for community colleges, $15 million for college instrumentation, and $50 million of discretionary funds for postsecondary and graduate support.
There are only a few concerns we have in regard to H.R. 1310. These relate to stipends for institutes, cost sharing or matching requirements, and the $50 million for NSF postsecondary and graduate support.
Stipends were an integral part of the very successful summer and academic-year institute programs of the 60's. It is extremely important that stipends be a part of this program. We would suggest that stipends be set at $250 per week or $50 per day, and that they be available only for periods for which teachers are otherwise unpaid. (This should not be construed to restrict payment to teachers who have their nine-month pay spread over twelve monthly checks.) Without stipends, teachers, being among the lowest paid in our economy, will be forced to work in the summer and will not be able to participate in the institutes.
Cost Sharing and Matching Reguirements
Even though we agree that the private sector has a responsibility to help support science education, we are strongly opposed to straight cost-sharing or matching requirements. Heavy defense-related investments in some regions and states create a defense" source for those areas and a defense siphon for others. North Carolina, Texas, California, and Arizona may easily find matching funds. What about local schools asking for matching funds from General Motors or Ford in Michigan, the Steel Range of Minnesota, or Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania? Cost-sharing and matching requirements make the rich richer, often through defense subsidies from taxes paid out by poorer areas.
A $50 Million Bonus for NSF Research
The $50 million of unspecified postsecondary and graduate support for NSF should be changed. Since the Administration is already proposing an enormous 18 percent increase for the Research components of the NSF budget, a $50 million addition, to bring that increase to 23 percent, would be excessive. We recommend that this
$50 million be used for additional precollege support where the crisis is well documented plus some support to improve undergraduate courses and laboratories.
We strongly recommend that this Committee, in concert with the full Labor and Human Resources Committee, prepare a companion Bill to H.R. 1310 and move it onto a fast track for Senate action as soon as possible. with quick action, the National Science Foundation and Department of Education can begin program planning immediately so that these important initiatives can be in-place when the 1984 budget year begins.