Follow-Up OpEd: The Achievement Gap In Math And Sciences

Writing an op-ed feels a whole lot like driving through a tunnel. You travel inside a direct line and concentrate on only one destination. This is because an op-ed is often 650 words or much less, leaving small space for excursions beyond the main point. The downside to getting this singular focus is that you sometimes miss important parts of a story – not only in what you write down but additionally in how you think and collect details about a topic. This happened to me final Friday, when Newsday published a piece of mine known as “U.S. should hail young scientists.” The piece was motivated by a recent UNESCO report on the state of science all over the world. The report discovered that in light of the current economic downturn, traditional powerhouses have slowed their investments in education and R&D. Emerging economies have taken advantage of the situation. They have increased their level hard money lenders of R&D investment and been able create new opportunities for technological advancement. This imbalanced activity is putting US prowess in peril. UNESCO discovered, for example, that China is overpowering the U.S. and Europe when it comes to number of working scientists and science PhDs. There’s an write-up which began with the statement: “Long Island is on the front lines of keeping America technologically competitive.” It was about 3 recent winners of the national Siemens Competition in math, science and technology who were Long Island high school students and cited the history of science fair winners in some Long Island schools. In the 2010 Intel microdermabrasion machines science fair (which is the largest and most competitive pre-college science competition in the world), about 20% of the semi-finalists were Long Island students. Two Garden City educators are being acknowledged for their work to teach chemistry to special education students. The point of the article was intended to be a positive one. We sometimes hear about the US losing the science and technological race to places like China and India. In our alarm, it is easy to overlook the fact that mentors, educators, parents and students themselves are putting out great effort and having a lot on the local level to create the young scientists of tomorrow. My article meant to say that these people are on the front lines of maintaining the country technologically aggressive, and that their metal detectorefforts should be recognized and applauded. That point stands. But it is not the whole story. In taking my 650 words or less direct line, I developed a bit of tunnel vision on the issue of science education in public schools. I have Ann Golob, who directs a project called the “Long Island Index” for the Rauch Foundation, to thank for adding to my perspective. Our school story is about the way we have organized ourselves by race, by class, by ethnicity; it is the story of how opportunity is selective and if you happen to live in a school tankless water heaters district that provides superb science education, you are one in the FEW lucky ones. I urge you to read the work that the Long Island Index produced in 2009 on this topic. In one piece of study we carried out and found that 20% of the semi-finalists in Intel’s talent search in the past ten years came from LI schools – but half of them came from just 7 districts. 7 out of 124. That’s not a regional trend.” There is a lot more to be discussed here, more than 650 words or less can contain. School achievement and inequality is an important topic. Not all students on Long Island have the same stellar school experience. Not even close to it. Indeed on the very same day my article ran, Newsday also printed a story about Roosevelt High School marking its 20th consecutive year on the state’s annual listing of video camera stabilizer lowest achieving schools. Roosevelt is the only Long Island school on the list and the longest-standing occupant. The Newsday article cited the school principal, the school board president, parents, and other pertinent officials all expressing hope and discussing their efforts to improve things. Those involved with Roosevelt are the front lines as well, engaged in a battle equally if not more important to what was originally written about.

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