Monthly Archives: January 2012

STEM education in the media spotlight

In the wake of his State of the Union address this past week, President Obama is touring the country and speaking, among other topics, about the relationship between STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and the American economy.

For instance, yesterday, Obama toured a new Intel manufacturing plant in Arizona that has struggled to find qualified workers in the U.S. and thus has had to outsource some parts of the manufacturing process overseas, as PC Magazine reports. The president addressed the issues of STEM education and the American workforce’s readiness to participate in the high technology economy in his State of the Union speech (see Scientific American’s roundup of expert reactions to Obama’s STEM-related remarks).

Perhaps due to the attention brought to this topic by the president’s speech, a number of STEM education-related news items have surfaced in recent days:

  • A new survey conducted by M.I.T. uncovers reasons why American secondary students decline to pursue STEM studies (and, hence, STEM-related careers). Reasons include the perception that STEM fields are “too challenging.”
  • The National Center for Science Education has announced it will “fight efforts to slip incorrect climate science information into school lessons. ‘We are seeing more efforts in legislatures and schools to push climate misinformation on teachers and students,’ says NCSE head Eugenie Scott.” [Source: USA Today]
  • In a new podcast, the New York Times reports “an increasing number of parents are turning to outside organizations to supplement science education in the schools.”
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South Texas school district suspends all sports programs

The Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times reports:

Premont ISD has canceled its sports programs to save money and focus on academics as it tries to meet sweeping improvements proposed by the state.

[Superintendent Ernest] Singleton decided to temporarily end athletics after basketball season ends.

The ban runs until basketball season in late fall, meaning Premont students will go without tennis, track, baseball in the spring and volleyball and football in the fall. Other extracurricular activities, such as fine arts, are not affected.

When trustees last week signed an agreement with the state to stay open, Singleton warned parents and residents that he would make tough and unpopular choices to meet the Texas Education Agency’s 11 demands…

According to a school district press release:

Premont I.S.D. has been assigned an Accredited-Probation status due to the ratings assigned to the district in the financial accountability rating system and the state’s academic accountability rating system. Specifically, Premont I.S.D. was assigned a 2009 academic accountability rating of Academically Unacceptable, and a 2008, 2009, and 2010 financial accountability rating of Substandard Achievement.

Science teachers face students skeptical about climate change

The Huffington Post reports:

Around the country — from Washington State to Oklahoma— pressure and pushback from skeptical students, teachers and administrators pose challenges.

In 2008, Louisiana voted to allow public school teachers to teach both creationism and the views of climate change skeptics. Last May, a school board in Las Alamitos, Calif., voted unanimously to require environmental science teachers cover “multiple perspectives” on climate change. That decision was later rescinded…

The National Center for Science Education, long-touted for its efforts to help teachers address evolution in the classroom, has recognized the predicament and announced this week that it would add climate change to its repertoire, offering teachers a range of tools and legal support.