We are told by industry that there is a national crisis in STEM education. What many STEM proponents have no idea about is that children in public schools increasingly have less and less access to authentic, project-based, hands on science education. There is no time. Test scores are the priority, so test prep takes precedence over all else. Make no mistake about why this is the case. Funding depends on it.
Orange County Public Schools, years ago, defunded science fair in schools. It is now supported by a private philanthropist, without whom, Orange County children would have no access to science fair, whatsoever. Children in more affluent zip codes attend schools where parents may support science fair as extracurricular activities. Fewer than 15 middle and high schools in Orange County typically participate in the Nelson Ying Orange County Science Expo; of those, many are private schools.
In OCPS, if science teachers are so inclined, and committed enough, they may run science fair in their schools as after school clubs, and most must do so on a volunteer basis. Athletic coaches receive stipends. Our priorities are clear.
My own children are very fortunate to attend an Aviation/Aerospace magnet elementary school and they are exposed to a great science curriculum. What of the children who are not so privileged?
This is an important piece originally posted on Education Alchemy – 11/22/14.
Thank you, Dr. Gordon, for stating what has been on my mind for years. It is especially chilling that teachers continue to confirm that this is happening across the country.
A guest post by Dr. Denise Gordon November 22, 2014
I write this short essay to disclose what is happening within my own science classroom, I write to expose the demeaning work environment that I and my fellow colleagues must endure, and I write to give purpose to my years of acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge in teaching science for the secondary student. I am not a failure; however, by the Texas STAAR standard assessment test, I am since this past year I had a 32% failure rate from my 8th grade students in April, 2014. The year before, my students had an 82% passing rate.
What happened in one school year? It does not matter that 2/3 of the student population speaks Spanish in their home. It does not matter their reading capability could be on a 4th grade level. It does not matter homework never…
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