May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Science Sees a Few Victories in End of Legislative Session

Posted: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

CSTA continued to work feverishly on several pieces of legislation throughout the last two years, and we are delighted to report on a number of  last minute victories and some surprises as the legislative year winds down.

AB 97 (Torlakson), which is an old bill from last year, establishing an Academic Standards Commission for science and history-social science, to be convened “as funding permits” to review and revise the science and history standards.

Everyone thought this bill was completely dead, not having heard anything about it this year as it was held in the Senate Education Committee at the end of last year, but it was amended (the original bill would have revised the math and ELA standards as well, but these were just revised as part of California’s Race to the Top application) and sped through Senate Ed. and Senate Appropriations in the final days of the session.  According to Assemblyman Torlakson’s office, the governor has indicated he will sign the bill this time–he has vetoed similar bills on two previous occasions.

ACR 88 (Torlakson), a CSTA co-sponsored bill which establishes a STEM legislative task force, finally made it out of the Senate Education Committee, after having been held for months for an unknown reason.  The bill was passed by both houses of the legislature and is now enacted.  CSTA is part of the group, including the American Chemical Society, the California Math Council, and BSMARTE, that is recommending members for the task force.  We’ll keep you posted as the task force moves to center stage.

AJR 39 (Beall & Torlakson) is a joint resolution co-sponsored by the California Council for the Social Studies and CSTA that requires the legislature to encourage the development of common core standards for social studies and science.  The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers are the entities that developed the common core reading and math standards; this resolution  requires that a letter be sent to the two organizations urging them to do the same for social studies and science.  The bill passed both houses of the legislature and, as a resolution, doesn’t need to be signed by the governor.

AB 391 (Torlakson) is another last-year-bill that was resurrected from the  Senate Education Committee, where it has languished since last year, in the final days of the legislature.  This bill requires the State Superintendent to contract for an independent evaluation of the STAR program.  This bill passed both houses of the legislature and is on its way to the governor’s desk; at this writing, it’s not known whether he plans to sign it.  CSTA supported this bill.

SB 1444 (Hancock) defines STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—as “courses or a sequence of courses that prepare pupils for occupations and careers that require technically sophisticated skills, including the application of mathematical and scientific skills and concepts” and goes on to describe STEM education in grades 1-6 as “foundational courses” leading to success in “applied” courses in grades 7-12.  The bill states “the intent of the legislature” that the SPI use STEM funds for programs consistent with the definition above.  CSTA supported the bill.

In a stunning turn of events, SB 1278 (Wyland) which would have restarted work on the history-social science framework that was halted last year, was killed without explanation in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  This bill originally called for the resumption of work on both the history and science frameworks, but was amended to resume only history.  The Department of Education, which sponsored the bill, apparently assured the legislature that because the history framework was completely finished and just had to be sent out for public comment, it could absorb the costs of completing the history framework within its current budget.  But even though it had no costs associated with it, the Assembly Appropriations Committee wanted to hear it anyway—and there it sat until it was dead.  It’s been hinted that there was some behind-the-scenes warfare between staff members of the Appropriations Committee and the Department of Finance, so although passage of the bill seemed to be a sure bet for the legislators, as there was no money attached to it, staff called the shots on it for, apparently, personal reasons.

’10-’11 Budget Bill

The legislative version of the 2010-2011 budget bill includes $144K for the completion of the science and history-social science frameworks.  Of course, we are still in the early days of budget negotiations (even though the budget is a couple of months overdue), so we can’t count on this money remaining, and we can count even less on the governor not to blue pencil it if it passes the legislature.  Keep checking back here for updates on this and other legislation.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

One Response

  1. Re. SB 1278:
    I was on the science framework review committee – great bunch of educators and sci/tech people. Stunned when it was cancelled AND never got re-imbursed for the expenses I incurred to attend.

    It’s dire for Ca science ed UNLESS we get the great-looking National Standards which are in development. So maybe in the end it doesn’t matter. But how sad that our students get their futures held up with this political in-fighting.

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

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Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.