Progressives Against Science Education
Rhode Island’s science scores have not improved in the past five years, even as lawmakers and educators begin to place more emphasis on this critical subject.Governor Donald Carcieri wants to address this problem head-on. He has proposed a number of initiatives aimed at improving science education in Rhode Island. They include establishing a statewide science curriculum, introducing innovative programs like Physics First and Project Inner Space, and providing more funding for the professional development of science teachers (list, from the RI 2007 Budget Executive Summary, page 38).
The state continues to trail the five other New England states and is stuck in the middle of the pack nationally, according to the latest results of standardized science tests.
However, the Emergency Campaign for Rhode Island’s Priorities, which claims the endorsement of the many of Rhode Island’s powerful special interest groups, wants to eliminate the Governor’s science education initiatives from the 2007 budget (h/t Kmareka).
ECRIP believes that that science education should be cut from the budget in order to pay for Rhode Island’s already generous social service programs. Here’s their list of science education initiatives they would like to see cut…
Postpone New Spending: “Inspiring Excellence in Technology, Engineering and Mathematics” teacher training program, Physics First, Project “Inner Space” and the hiring of new Science Project ManagerECRIP claims that eliminating science education from the budget would save Rhode Island $3,700,000, but tallying up the programs they’ve named appears to yield only about $2M in cuts. However, if ECRIP’s numbers are off, I’m sure they will have no trouble finding more education funding to cut, as the priority of ECRIP seems to be cutting education to pay for welfare.
I just noticed that ECRIP lists the “National Education Assoc., RI” as one of their “endorsers” on the memo that outlines the plan for eliminating funding for science education. Is the NEA really on board with this part of the proposal?
The following programs are Governor Carcieri’s proposed improvements to science education in Rhode Island. The Emergency Campaign for Rhode Island’s Priorities wants to cut programs 2 through 6 to avoid rather than reform any aspect of Rhode Island’s social services spending.
1. Creating SMART Classrooms and the Center for STEM Education Excellence
2. Establish a Statewide Science Curriculum
- The Governor proposes that a $15.0 of long-term financing be secured to upgrade teacher training programs and better prepare the State’s teachers to inspire Rhode Island schoolchildren to excel in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Specifically, the bond will transform classes at Rhode Island College (RIC) and URI into SMART classrooms with integrated audio-visual technology and wireless network access; create the Center for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education at RIC; and expand the State’s K-12 Comprehensive Education Information System to add more districts and include fiscal data.
3. Physics First Pilot Program
- The Governor proposes to appropriate $200,000 in the FY 2007 budget to establish a statewide science curriculum. The curriculum would be developed by RIDE and aligned with the State’s new Grade Span Expectation as called for by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Math and Science Education.
4. Project Inner Space Initiative
- The Governor recommends $425,000 in FY 2007 to provide physics texts and laboratory equipment for the five high schools participating in the Physics First program. This program reverses the traditional high school science curriculum and teaches physics in the freshman year followed by micro-scale chemistry and biology.
5. Professional Development
- In the FY 2007 budget, the Governor proposes the appropriation of $240,000 to bring “real time” oceanographic research conducted by Dr. Bob Ballard directly into Rhode Island’s middle and high schools. This initiative will link Professor Ballard’s work with science taught at six secondary schools.
6. Project Management
- The Governor proposes $850,000 in the FY 2007 budget to fund professional development activities in mathematics and science for all teachers, but particularly elementary school teachers. Of this total, $100,000 will be used to expand the Physics First pilot program.
- The FY 2007 budget includes $120,000 to hire a program manager to report on the State’s progress to the PreK-16 Council and coordinate the Blue Ribbon Panel on Math & Science Education’s recommendations with RIDE, the Board of Governors for Higher Education, and the business community.