This week in education news, climate change skeptic group seeks to influence 200,000 teachers; some California schools are trading the blacktop for greentop; New Mexico schools continue to teach outdated science while new standards sit on the shelf; engineering is getting more attention in classrooms; and President Trump leaves science jobs vacant, troubling critics.
Twenty-five thousand science teachers opened their mailboxes this month and found a package from the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank that rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. It contained the organization’s book “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” as well as a DVD rejecting the human role in climate change and arguing instead that rising temperatures have been caused primarily by natural phenomena. Click here to read the article featured on PBS.org.
Some students in California don’t have to take field trips to parks or national forests for environmental education – they just open their classroom door. To supplement their science and environmental curricula, hundreds of schools across the state have busted up their asphalt play yards and replaced them with wood chips, trees, flowers, shrubs and vegetables. The new gardens help teachers implement California’s new science standards, which emphasize hands-on learning, and crossover between scientific disciplines. Click here to read the article featured in EdSource.
President Trump has proposed getting rid of the Title II program, which aims to help districts and states pay for teacher and principal development, reduce class-size, craft new evaluation systems, and more. The program, which is officially called the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grant program, or Title II, Part A, is the third largest in the U.S. Department of Education’s budget that goes to K-12 education. Eliminating it would be a really big deal, state, district, and school officials say. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.
On Tuesday, presidential daughter Ivanka Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited the National Air and Space Museum in Washington to “highlight the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education” and to discuss “empowering young women to pursue STEM-related careers.” The event came just a short time after President Trump advanced his first federal budget, which included wiping out NASA’s education office, which oversees efforts to support women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, operates camps and enrichment programs, and provides internships and scholarships for young scientists. Click here to read the article featured in The Washington Post.
For four years, New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera has had on her desk a unanimous recommendation from a hand-picked panel of math and science experts. They want the state to join a growing list of others that have adopted the nationally vetted Next Generation Science Standards. It’s been two years since Skandera convened a focus group of 85 teachers, professors and school administrators to review new standards. That group also recommended NGSS adoption. Click here to read the article featured in the Santa Fe Reporter.
Engineering is getting more attention in classrooms, especially in those states that have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, according to an analysis of national test data. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.
On the fourth floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the staff of the White House chief technology officer has been virtually deleted, down from 24 members before the election to, by Friday, only one. Mr. Trump has not yet named his top advisers on technology or science, and so far, has made just one hire. It is unclear whether the vacancies are the result of the Trump administration’s overall slowness in hiring or a signal that the president places less importance on science and technology than Mr. Obama did. Click here to read the article featured in The New York Times.
Stay tuned for next week’s top education news stories.
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