January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Times They Are a Changing

Posted: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

by Rick Pomeroy

As we decompress from the 2011 California Science Education Conference, I want to thank all of the people who worked so hard to provide the workshops, Short Courses, and presentations in Pasadena. This is your conference and the thing that makes it so valuable to teachers across California is that the majority of the sessions are presented by fellow teachers and educators sharing their ideas and experiences. Thank you to all who attended and to those who were with us in spirit. I would also like to thank the conference co-chairs, Dean Gilbert and Laura Henriques, and their committee for all of the work that putting on a meeting of this size requires. Finally, I want to thank the CSTA staff, Jessica Sawko, Connie Morrill, and Kayla Froehlich-Williams for the professional handling of the logistics of the conference. Until you have worked along side the staff and volunteers, you can’t possibly understand all of the mega and mini details that have to be attended to.

Debbie Nuzzulo of SeaWorld San Diego and Guadalupe de la O

On the Saturday morning of the conference, I had the pleasure of hosting the annual awards breakfast. During the breakfast we honored CSTA’s Future Science Teacher Award winner, Guadalupe de la O, and together with the California Department of Education, we recognized the California finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST), Dean Baird, Ziba Mayar, and Ericka Senegar-Mitchell. It is a pleasure to honor all of the recipients and to look forward to their work and their participation in CSTA in the future.

For those of you who were unable to attend, I summarized much of the excitement for the future in science education in California in my general session address:

These are exciting times to be involved with science education. To borrow a line from the Bob Dylan: The Times They Are a Changing.”

As you may or may not know, two significant events in the past two months have the potential to significantly change the landscape of science education for students in California. On September 20, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson announced that California will be one of 20 states to lead the effort in the writing of the Next Generation Science Standards whose structure is guided by the Framework for K-12 Science Education that was released in July of this year. This was exciting news, given that the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the President of the State Board of Education, and the Governor agreed that it is time to bring the California Science Standards into the 21st century. However, this proclamation was meaningless with out the second event, the Governor’s signing of Senate Bill 300 on October 8. SB 300, which was sponsored by YOUR association, authorizes the Superintendent of Public Instruction to update and revise the California Science Standards and requires them to be based on the Next Generation Science Standards. Without SB 300, there was no directive to make any changes in the current standards which were developed in 1998.

So what does that mean for you, the members of CSTA? For those of you who are just embarking on your careers, it means exciting times ahead. All of your dreams and motivation for choosing a career in teaching: to make a difference, to share your joy of science and learning, and to give back, have a realistic chance of being fulfilled. For those of you who are nearing the other end of your careers, here is a chance to return to the engaging inquiry process approach to science that we so eagerly embraced during the years of integrated science, the 100 Schools Project, and a framework that emphasized big ideas and themes, not factoids and discipline specificity. Finally, for those of you in between, here is a reason to be re-energized about science teaching. When you reach that point where you ask: is this all there is? You can say no, there is so much more.

This transition is not going to be easy and we should not treat it or these precipitating events lightly. Now is the time to commit ourselves the future! CSTA, as your association, will take an active role in helping these dreams become a reality. To do that, we need you and your colleagues. If our voice is to be heard as the voice for high quality science education for all students, we need to represent all of you. Your association will speak loudly for an exemplary science education for all of California’s students. As professional educators, your membership in this professional association shouts your commitment to your field. When people ask you “What do I get for my membership fee?” tell them “You get to be heard.”

There are other things you can do as well. Please consider taking an active role in the leadership of CSTA. As your President, I can tell you that the best way to feel in control of an organization is to become involved. In addition to the board of director positions that make the decisions that guide all actions of CSTA, there are conference committees that plan and implement meetings like the California Science Education Conference, a publications committee that provides input into CSTA publications, a legislative oversight committee, e-communications, and more.

As we move forward, it is important to hear the voices of our members, particularly the new and mid-career teachers whose professional lives will be most impacted by the decisions and positions that the board takes.

I want to leave you this thought, shared with me by my colleague, Herb Brunkorst, CSTA member and faculty member at CSU San Bernardino who said:

“The door to the future of science education in California has opened a crack. We can let it shut and lose a chance for changing science education for the next 20 years, or we can push through it and move on to a new and exciting frontier.”

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California, Davis and is CSTA’s president.

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis.

3 Responses

  1. […] this year’s California Science Education Conference our president Rick Pomeroy was able to express the thanks that many of us need to continue to express. Thanks to California Senator Loni Hancock for her work […]

  2. I would like to be part of the development of the nation’s Next Generation standards for Earth Science or at least the California standards based upon them.

    Over twenty years ago I was part of the 100 Schools Project to write the Integrated Science curriculum. I taught at Rim High School in Lake Arrowhead and was part of the Ontario hub. After teaching General Science for several years, I taught Integrated Science from 1980 to 2005.

    I’ve been teaching Earth Science off-and-on for since 1986. For the last six years I’ve been teaching Earth Science full-time at Golden Valley High School in Bakersfield. I am the PLC Leader for Earth Science at my school and serve on the district’s Earth Science Benchmark Committee.

    I earned an M.Ed. Degree from CSULA in 1993 and an Ed.D, from USC in 2001. Both specialized in curriculum and instruction. My dissertation won the Award of Merit.

    Over the years I’ve also served as school site rep, teacher association treasurer, School Site Council member, school WASC leader and WASC Visiting Committee member. I also led the development and presentation of the “Closing the Achievement Gap” Symposiums for teachers in my prior district, the East Side High School District in San Jose.

    Most of the 50-something earth science teachers in my current district, the Kern High School District, are very displeased with the factoid-based standards that cover far too much information with little time for process or inquiry. Our students are bored with the facts, despite their fast pace, and want labs that inspire them to think. Our district doesn’t fund those kind of activities since earth science is not part of the A-G requirements and is not a lab class. The new standards will hopefully change that nation-wide.

    I have four more years until retirement and would love to devote a good bit of my effort , skills and training to improve the profession by improving its standards and methods.

    Please consider how you can use me to help the cause. Please respond ASAP to at least let me know your intent.

    Tom Richardson, Ed.D.
    7117 Lucille Ave.
    Bakersfield, CA. 93308
    661-817-6297
    DrTRichardson@yahoo.com

  3. Dear Tom,
    Thank you for your interest in participating in the process. I encourage you to re-join CSTA to help support our efforts to participate in the process and develop the best science content standards possible.
    It is the role and responsibility of the California Department of Education to convene the group of reviewers for the “state review” portion of the process. CSTA has been invited to participate in that committee.

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