How is it possible that our country spends the most per capita on education, yet, our 8th graders place 9th in science in the world?
The most recent imperative for engaging scientists in the realm of education has indirectly emerged from our nation’s Race to the Top initiative, which is a call for dramatic changes to a suffering public education system (U.S. Dept. of Education, 2010). The President has put $4.35 billion on the education reform table, to reward those states willing to make innovative changes in their school systems. Reforms have included such drastic measures as changing school leadership, nullifying seniority rules in teacher layoffs, and closing schools (Vasniz 2010). More progressive changes have included the adoption of new curricula, such as the Common Core Standards 2010 (MA Dept. of Ed., 2010) and new approaches to increasing high school graduation rates (such as Gateway to College 2010). Massachusetts, who did not make the first cut in the Race to the Top competition, was just notified it is a finalist in the second round (McNeil, 2010). If chosen, the state will have millions of dollars to effect additional education reform, including the development of new professional development programs. The time is ripe for re-engaging in teacher development that will focus on teaching teachers how to bring inquiry-based learning into the classrooms.
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