Ed News: Science Teachers: DeVos’s Education Department Is Misinterpreting Federal Law

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This week in education news, NSTA and STEM Education Coalition sent a letter to the Education Department saying it is misinterpreting ESSA; Florida House Bill 989 was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott; the White House denies reports that OSTP is now completely unstaffed; a reminder of what’s wrong with how kids learn science (and other subjects); states are learning on their waivers from past law for their new education plans; and states can indeed use science tests to rate schools under ESSA.

Science Teachers: DeVos’s Education Department Is Misinterpreting Federal Law

Science educators aren’t exactly thrilled with the Education Department under Betsy DeVos. They weren’t fans when President Trump recently pulled the United States out of the landmark Paris climate agreement (which all countries had signed except Syria and Nicaragua) — and DeVos issued a statement in support. Now, the National Science Teachers Association and the STEM Education Coalition have sent a letter to the Education Department saying it is misinterpreting the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal K-12 education law that replaced No Child Left Behind, in regard to science and school accountability plans. Click here to read the article featured in The Washington Post.

Two Sad Ironies In Florida Passing Its ‘Anti-Science’ Law

It is officially called Florida House Bill 989, and it was signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott on June 26th, 2017 after passing both chambers of the house. According to the National Center for Science Education’s website: With the law now in place, any county resident — not just any parent with a child in the country’s public schools, as was the case previously — can now file a complaint about instructional materials in the county’s public schools, and the school will now have to appoint a hearing officer to hear the complaint. Click here to read the article featured in Forbes.

White House Denies Report That Part of Its Science And Technology Office Is Empty

The White House is denying reports that the one division within the Office of Science and Technology Policy is now completely unstaffed. CBS News reported no staff members were left at the office’s science division ― one of four such branches that comprise the OSTP ― after three employees from President Barack Obama’s administration worked their final day on Friday. When asked about the alleged vacancies, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told HuffPost on Saturday the report was false. Click here to read the article featured in the Huffington Post.

The Necessity Of Interactive Tech In The Classroom

There’s no question that technology for the classroom has boomed in the past decade, from the preschool to college level. In fact, in 2016 alone, Chromebooks accounted for nearly half of the devices sold for classrooms in America. As a society, we’re creating an education system that better accounts for the real world applications of technology. Unlike generations before them, Generation Z is gaining an entirely new set of skills in school that will prepare them for the future. From the age of three years old, children are being introduce to technology in schools, and likely even earlier at home. Click here to read the article featured in the Huffington Post.

This Story Reveals What’s Wrong With How Kids Learn Science (And Other Subjects)

You’re a science teacher so of course you teach about heat. There’s a whole section in your textbook titled “Heat.” Does the concept excite your students? Could heat have a story? Yes, there almost always is an underlying story that accompanies any achievement. Those stories not only help explain ideas, they cement them into your head. Traditionally stories have been a tool great teachers cherish. But in the 20th Century we mostly gave up storytelling for an assortment of teaching methodologies (most developed by commercial entities). Click here to read the article featured in The Washington Post.

America’s Decline in Education: Is Anyone Worrying About It?

The story of education dates to ancient civilization—but the story of modern public education begins in the U.S. For over 100 years, the American university system has been the envy of the world. Talented engineers, renowned scientists, and students from all over the world come to the U.S. for higher education, especially in STEM education fields, to get the best possible education so they can land great jobs and support their families. In fact, international students often outnumber Americans, now accounting for 70% of the graduate students in electrical engineering, 63% in computer science, and 60% in industrial engineering. Click here to read the article featured in the Huffington Post.

Are States Leaning On Waivers From Past Law For Their New Education Plans?

The Every Student Succeeds Act hasn’t been the only time in the last few years that events in Washington led states to rethink their accountability and other education policies. Yes, we’re talking about those waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act that the Obama administration gave out to most states. So while we were out here for the Education Commission of the States conference, we thought we would ask a few state chiefs (and a former chief who stepped down last month) whether they were drawing heavily on those waivers from the previously federal K-12 law for their Every Student Succeeds Act plans. The short answer seems to be: They are leaning a fair amount on their waiver plans and other work that was going on when waivers were handed out. However, the chiefs were also quick to point out that they are rethinking at least a few high-profile policies, like school improvement, thanks to ESSA’s flexibility for states. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.

Can States Use Science Tests to Rate Schools Under ESSA?

There’s been a ton of confusion lately about whether and how states can incorporate science, social studies, and other subjects into their systems for rating schools under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The upshot is that, yes, states can indeed use science, social studies, the arts, and other subjects beyond reading and math for accountability. But there are some caveats when it comes to just how they do that. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.

STEM Degrees Are Good For Careers. But Do They Lead To More Innovation?

There is much buzz among educators and policy makers about the value of a STEM degree. Graduating with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) is indeed good for the individual, with studies showing better job prospects and higher pay. But what is the impact on the overall economy? Click here to read the article featured in the Kellogg Insight.

Stay tuned for next week’s top education news stories.

The Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs (CLPA) team strives to keep NSTA members, teachers, science education leaders, and the general public informed about NSTA programs, products, and services and key science education issues and legislation. In the association’s role as the national voice for science education, its CLPA team actively promotes NSTA’s positions on science education issues and communicates key NSTA messages to essential audiences.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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