May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Governor Vetoes Science Ed. Legislation

Posted: Friday, October 1st, 2010

Last month we reported on promising legislation we anticipated would be signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger. Unfortunately, and for unclear reasons, the governor vetoed all of them, in rather combative terms.

AB 97 (Torlakson), would have established 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.

This was a bill introduced last year which had been held in the Senate Education Committee and which we had thought was completely dead. A few weeks before the end of the legislative session, it was resurrected and sped through Senate Ed. and Senate Appropriations in the final days of the session. According to Assemblyman Torlakson’s office, the governor had indicated he would sign the bill this time–he had vetoed similar bills on two previous occasions.

Unfortunately, he again vetoed the bill, saying that revising the standards now, before the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, would be premature and result in an “unnecessary, duplicative process.” See governor’s veto message.

AB 391 (Torlakson) was another last-year-bill that was resurrected from the Senate Education Committee in the final days of the legislature. This bill would have required the State Superintendent to contract for an independent evaluation of the STAR testing program. The governor vetoed the bill, only saying, “I vetoed a similar bill last year. I would ask the author to evaluate that.” Stunning. See governor’s veto message.

SB 1444 (Hancock) would have defined 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 went on to describe STEM education in grades 1-6 as “foundational courses” leading to success in “applied” courses in grades 7-12. The bill stated “the intent of the legislature” that the SPI use STEM funds for programs consistent with the definition above.

Again, the governor vetoed the bill, indicating that it “could create unintentional, potential barriers by preventing California from applying for and receiving funds for STEM-related programs, if grant requirements or competitive priorities are not consistent with the definition outlined in the bill.” See governor’s veto message.

To recap the successes we did have this year:

ACR 88 (Torlakson), a CSTA co-sponsored bill which establishes a STEM legislative task force, passed both houses of the legislature and is now enacted. CSTA is part of the group, including the American Chemical Society, and the California Math Council, 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.

’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.

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.

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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

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

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.