Ed News: How Much Influence Do Teachers Have in Their Schools?

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This week in education news, Baltimore resident is using the city’s bike culture to introduce more children to STEM; climate change is still just starting to make its way into classrooms, and many teachers don’t have the training or the resources they need to teach it; Education Department releasing a plan to help teachers who have been wrongly hit with debts because of troubled grant program; Minnesota teachers welcome proposed science education standards that would teach that humans are the primary cause of climate change; new study says scientists are leaving academic work at unprecedented rate; physical computing has established a presence in a small number of schools around the country; and report finds that 96 percent of principals surveyed feel that teachers are involved in making important school decisions, while only 58 percent of teachers do.

Bridging the Gap Between Science and Government

Research universities rely on government agencies for funding, but the latest word on those agencies’ science policies doesn’t reach campuses instantly. That’s why a few universities have created senior leadership roles dedicated to communicating between Capitol Hill and campus research laboratories. Read the article featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

How a Baltimore Resident is Taking the City’s Dirt Bike Culture and Turning it Into STEM Education for Youths

Brittany Young remembers Sundays in West Baltimore as a child, when she’d hear the distinct buzzing and revving of engines. It was the city’s signature soundtrack for the summer, a sound that said: It was dirt bike season. Still, in the city long considered the capital of dirt bike culture, the sport endures. And Young, an elementary school technology instructor and former chemical engineer, is tapping into that love as a platform for something bigger. Through her grant-funded B-360 program, Young is using bike culture to introduce more black children to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. At the same time, she hopes to decrease street riding in Baltimore and to challenge the negative perception of this popular hobby. Read the article featured in The Baltimore Sun.

In Many Schools, ‘Climate Change Is Playing Catch-Up

If the world doesn’t make “rapid” and “unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” a UN report warned this month, the effects of climate change will be dramatic and far-reaching — and not in some distant future, in the next 20 years. Even now, though, in most schools, climate change is still just starting to make its way into classrooms, and many teachers don’t have the training or the resources they need to teach it. Listen to the segment featured on WGBH.org.

Ed Department To Erase Debts Of Teachers, Fix Troubled Grant Program

For public school teacher Kaitlyn McCollum, even simple acts like washing dishes or taking a shower can fill her with dread. She and her family recently moved to a much smaller, older house. One big reason for the downsizing: a $24,000 loan that McCollum has been unfairly saddled with because of a paperwork debacle at the U.S. Department of Education. But for McCollum and many public school teachers, it appears the nightmare is nearly over. Listen to the segment featured on NPR.org.

Teachers Back New MN Climate Education Standards, But Topic’s Still Hot

Kay Nowell is a veteran science teacher in the St. Michael-Albertville public schools. Still, she feels the need to tread lightly when the topic of climate change comes up in her classroom. Despite the facts, teaching climate change can bring a political backlash from parents and others who doubt the science. It’s one reason why Nowell and teachers across the state are welcoming proposed science education standards that would, for the first time in Minnesota, teach that humans are the primary cause of climate change. Read the article featured in MPR News.

$4.4M in grant funds help California administrators improve STEM instruction

Four California school districts, three schools and three county offices of education have received a total of $4.4 million in state grants to improve STEM instruction, with a special emphasis on strengthening administrators’ ability to recruit highly qualified teachers in those subject areas and provide professional development to existing staff members. Read the brief featured in Education DIVE.

New Study Says Scientists Are Leaving Academic Work At Unprecedented Rate

The “half-life” of academic scientists has shortened dramatically over time, says a new paper calling attention to the “rise of the temporary workforce.” Following scientists in three fields, the paper’s authors found that it took about five years for a half of a science cohort to leave academic work in 2010 — compared to 35 years in the 1960s. Read the article featured in Inside Higher Ed.

K-12 Interest Grows in ‘Physical Computing’ as Hands-On Approach to Computer Science and STEM

Physical computing, an instructional strategy that tries to teach students about computer science and computational thinking through physical tools and hands-on activity, has established a presence in a small number of schools around the country. In many cases, there’s just one teacher or administrator who’s trying it, but supporters of the concept believe its role will grow. At the same time, they acknowledge that there are obstacles to implementing these types of programs, including concerns about the cost of applying it in classrooms, and the training educators need to make it happen. Read the article featured in Education Week.

How Much Influence Do Teachers Have in Their Schools? – It Depends on Whom You Ask

A growing body of research suggests that school management models emphasizing teacher influence in school governance have a range of benefits, including increased teacher job satisfaction, improved academic performance, and more-effective organizational learning. However, nationwide data from the American Educator Panels show that principals are significantly more likely to perceive that teachers have influence in their schools than teachers. Read the report by the RAND Corporation.

Minority-Serving Colleges and Universities Are Positioned to Serve as a Greater Resource for Meeting U.S. STEM Workforce Needs, But Increased Attention and Investments Are Needed

Higher education leaders, policymakers, and the private sector should take a range of actions to strengthen STEM programs and degree attainment in the nation’s Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Read the press release.

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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