kitchen table math, the sequel: Should There Be A National Panel For Science And Math?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Should There Be A National Panel For Science And Math?

Somewhere on Capitol Hill today, hearings were held by a Science and Technology subcommittee on the lagging performance of US students in math and science. A news report about this hearing can be found at Medill Reports.
The proposed council, comprised of representatives from federal and local agencies as well as school districts, would work independently of other federal programs to create national guidance on science, technology, engineering and math curriculum.
Education officials stated that they think a national council is unnecessary and will just create more bureaucracy. But --

The committee’s top Republican, Rep. Vernon Ehlers of Michigan, acknowledged that the increased federal role would be controversial, but said agreement on national standards is essential for the sake of consistency among school districts. American families move on average every four years, he said.

“At the top of the list (of competitiveness) are small, homogenous countries that have the same curriculum throughout the country,” Ehlers said of the leaders in science and math. “There’s a real urgency to this.”

Singapore, anyone?
I wonder if anyone has told him that those small homogenous countries are willing to sell us their curriculum?

Robert Gropp, director of public policy for the American Institute of Biological Sciences, said in a telephone interview university teachers are often frustrated by “hodgepodge” of what local schools are teaching. He expressed hope that this decades-long debate may finally move forward.

A national council could make university-level teaching easier, since national standards could provide a more consistent pool of math and science skills among incoming freshman students.

National standards are a great idea, as long as they are set by mathematicians and scientists that have some idea of content. Input from educators should be encouraged.


Anonymous said...

How would this new proposed math panel be different from the current national math panel?


National standards for math - oh, that would be so hard to do - its called COPY ALL from the California State Framework.

I will send my bill to the US Department of Education in the morning.

LynnG said...

Have you looked at the Massachusetts standards? Or maybe the new council could just copy Singapore's.

I think the difference in the new proposed council is they have a broader perspective (math,science, technology, engineering). Plus, the old panel's role was limited in time. They are to report sometime next year and then disband -- like that Reading panel. A new council would be setting curricular goals at grade level.

Barry Garelick said...

Draft legislation was introduced earlier this year by Rep Ehlers, and Sen. Dodd that called for national standards and national testing. Since states' rights are an issue, the legislation was crafted in the time-honored tradition of preserving states' rights, but giving the federal govt the authority to withhold funding to states that did not adopt the national standards or tests.

Big supporter of the bills: NCTM

I would imagine they will support a national panel as well and use their considerable power to influence the selection of the members. NCTM has awesome lobbying power.

SteveH said...

"Big supporter of the bills: NCTM"

National low standards for redefined math. Our state educational community has always been proactive when it comes to NCLB. They define everything; frameworks, (low) expectations, testing, cutoffs, and ratings.

Institutionalized low expectations for all with affluent parents still making sure that real learning gets done. And they will still be amazed that an academic gap still exists. And they will still blame external forces. And they will still not do what they need to do.