Oct. 2011. How to ask your U.S. Congressman & two Senators to continue higher-education coordination of K-12 science teacher professional development.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, No Child Left Behind) will probably be re-authorized in early 2013. In the ESEA blueprint, no role for universities is stated. [Available for download at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/blueprint/index.html]
In March 2010, a letter & recommendations were sent by State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) to Congressmen George Miller and John Kline, lead members of the House Committee on Education and Labor.
A relevant quote from the SHEEO recommendation is: "The Obama Administration's blueprint for ESEA reauthorization … eliminate ... ESEA Title II Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) State Grants, administered by state agencies of higher education and reserved for partnership grants between higher education institutions and local school districts, currently funded at $72.5 million. The blueprint proposes moving these funds into a new authority in ESEA called the “Teachers and Leaders Pathway” program, under which $405 million would be available for competitive grants to local school districts and states, but the role and responsibilities of institutions of higher education and state higher education agencies are vague and indirect at best. "
A quote from the SHEEO letter: "The higher education community stands ready to become much more deeply engaged in: a) improving the capacities of teachers now serving K-12 schools; and b) improving the preparation, induction, and successful retention of newly trained teachers. We see no other viable way of achieving excellent teaching at scale. There is no adequate substitute for the intellectual and human capital of our colleges and universities in this work. But higher education cannot improve its contributions without help from K-12 educators, state policymakers, and federal programs. We are committed to working together with them for such reforms, and we are more than ready to accept accountability for improvement.
Proposals to eliminate existing federal programs that directly support … competitive professional development grants administered by state higher education agencies work at cross-purposes to the goal of achieving the collaboration and engagement of higher education required for systemic change. " (http://www.sheeo.org . Request a copy from policy analyst.)
ITQ replaced the Eisenhower Title II program, which was for math and science teachers.
No other Federal program exists whereby the two-thirds of physics teachers who did not major in physics can improve their content knowledge and pedagogy. Likewise for the one-half of chemistry teachers who are out of field; and the vast majority of physical science teachers. They teach in all socio-economic strata, not just high-poverty schools. Few states, let alone school districts, have enough physics teachers to provide them with research-based professional development. And K-12 schools don’t have intellectual capital like colleges and universities. Science teachers need a systemic, university-based approach, with summer financial support.
Physics and chemistry are foundational sciences for ALL other sciences and engineering. Our nation’s economic development depends on a workforce strong in the physical sciences.
ACTION: using a home computer, a home email address, and in non-working hours,
e-mail your Congressman from their website: access it at http://www.house.gov. State your concern (as above), cite evidence (as above), and suggest continuing higher-education coordination of science teacher professional development through competitive grantmaking. Follow up with two or three paragraphs on how the ITQ grant has affected YOU. Copy/paste your letter to your U.S. Senators from their websites: access it at http://www.Senate.gov. /Jane J