Schools reflect the society in
which they exist. This is true for neighborhood schools and for the entire
education system of the United States. Indeed, education can be thought
of as a subsystem of a social-political-economic system. In Blueprints
we turn that around and look at aspects of the larger system as components
of the education system. These four chapters examine the roles of families
and communities, business and industry, higher education, and teacher education
in relation to K-12 science and mathematics education.
While the main role of families, communities, businesses, and universities
may be to "support" the K-12 education enterprise, it is certainly not
their only one. These entities often play a major part in actually shaping
the education enterprise. They do so by pressing the schools to establish
policies they favor and discontinue ones they dislike, and by taking a
hand in setting financial and other constraints for the schools to observe.
What complicates matters is that in the United States the "they" of parents,
communities, etc., is extremely diverse and rarely of a single mind. Moreover,
control over the policies, finances, and operation of "the education enterprise"
they wish to support or shape is widely and confusingly dispersed. Understanding
education as a system would seem to require exploring its interactions
with the social system in which it is embedded.
The first two chapters of this section might well have been one. On
the face of it, higher education subsumes teacher education. But not all
teacher education-in preparation or ongoing staff development-is sponsored
by higher education or conducted by professors. Project 2061 commissioned
separate reports in order to be sure to highlight the paramount importance
of teacher education for reform. Also, the project wanted to be sure that
sufficient attention was paid to all of the functions of colleges and universities
that have an impact on K-12 education. Still, the reader may want to reassemble
these chapters conceptually.
As influences on the policies and practices of individual school systems,
teacher education and higher education can be as important as family, community,
and business. However, while university-school partnerships of one kind
or another are not unknown, they are neither numerous nor enduring. More
commonly, the influence of higher education on K-12 schools is indirect.
For example, the admissions standards of a college apply to the graduates
of all high schools, not just to the schools in its immediate vicinity,
and a school district can hire any teachers who meet state licensing requirements,
no matter where they trained. This indirect influence can be strong (school
districts everywhere pay attention to Ivy League admissions standards)
as well as dynamic (there is a strong relationship between state universities
that produce large numbers of teachers and the school districts around
them). Finally, the important role of community colleges and historically
Black universities should be carefully studied, not only as models of how
to meet the needs of a changing undergraduate population, but as partners
in meeting our goal of a more diverse science and mathematics teaching
Chapter 11 and 12 deal with individuals and groups that have an interest
in the policies, budgets, and practices of particular schools or school
systems. These include:
Clearly there is considerable overlap among these individuals, groups,
and organizations, but their stories are told in two chapters: "Family
and Community" and "Business and Industry." Each discusses reform in science
and mathematics education from its own perspective. By considering the
two chapters at the same time, readers may appreciate the complexity, and
perhaps gain some insight into the inevitable clashes as well as the areas
of potential cooperation and support by these important clients of the
adults whose children attend schools, who pay close attention to what happens
in the schools, and who make their wishes known;
citizens, with or without school children, who follow school issues and
attend school board meetings, vote, join special interest groups, or run
for the school board, city council or state legislature;
business organizations that provide schools with direct help such as computers
and consultants, lobby school boards and state legislatures in behalf of
education, and take positions on proposed tax measures;
philanthropic organizations that support education through scholarships
and funding for ongoing programs; and
newspapers and radio and television stations that cover education issues
Again, the following questions are intended to initiate discussions
of the interactions of components of the education system, with some attention
to their bearing on the aims of Project 2061.
Chapter 9: Teacher
Chapter 10: Higher
If everyone should acquire the knowledge and skills recommended in Science
for All Americans, doesn't it follow that all teachers and school administrators
should also do so? What can be done to bring current and future educators
up to that standard? What distinctions should be made between the preparation
of elementary and secondary teachers?
Given the amount to be learned and the technical skills to be developed,
how long should pre-service education take? Five years? More? Do economic
and social realities limit the possibilities, such as raising certification
standards dramatically or reducing the number of teacher education institutions
by half or more, so that those that remain can be more selective? What
would be the effect of instituting rigorous entry tests to teaching modeled
after those in other professions? What are the likely benefits and costs
of such tests?
How would the teacher training picture change if it became possible (at
least in principle) to reduce the size of the certified teaching force
necessary to operate the schools and still meet high standards of student
learning? Would teacher salaries and status rise? Would the nature of the
job change radically? Would new specialties arise?
Are there steps that can be taken to reduce the parochialism of education?
Would it help if the top 100 or so professional development schools, like
the top medical schools, deliberately drew their students from every section
of the country? Is national certification a possibility? A combination
of state and national certification?
Should the growing number of professional development schools (which are
designed to be to the education of teachers as university-affiliated hospitals
are to the education of physicians) become the norm and model for teacher
education? How should the faculties of such training institutions be assembled?
What should be required in the way of prior knowledge and experience to
compete for admission? What evidence of competence should be required for
Chapter 11: Family
What can be done to get science, mathematics, and engineering departments
in colleges and universities to work together on behalf of assuring science
literacy of all their graduates (many of whom will later influence education
policy as legislators and business leaders)? What steps can be taken to
improve the cooperation between academic departments and schools of education?
Because many teachers attend community colleges before transferring to
teacher training institutions, what can be done to build coherent teacher
education programs that reach across the full range of higher education
institutions? Can more coherence among institutions help to build a pipeline
that would increase the proportion of minority teachers of science and
mathematics teachers in the nation's schools?
How can universities set admissions in order to motivate K-12 institutions
to produce science literate graduates? Because few colleges and universities
in America have entrance examinations at all, what might they use as a
How can science and mathematics instruction at colleges and universities
be improved? Are standards and incentives necessary? How can professional
societies support this effort?
How can higher education faculty be encouraged to work with schools to
improve the K-12 science and mathematics curricula, and to participate
in the development of learning materials for the schools? To provide science
research, laboratory, and field experience opportunities for K-12 teachers?
Chapter 12: Business
How do and how should schools respond to the changing nature of family
structure and life? What evidence is there that diverse family arrangements
are deleterious to learning? Are there responses to family circumstances
that are educationally effective?
What are the educational consequences of having both substantial numbers
of either poverty-stricken or wealthy families in a community? Where do
ideas such as school choice, charter schools, and school-based councils
fit into this picture? What does research have to say about the effects
of socioeconomic issues and programs to deal with them?
What is the place of out-of-school learning? How can all students have
access to museums and informal science learning? How can families help
to foster and support high expectations and achievement?
What ways have been found effective to secure the support of families for
standards-based learning goals, such as those recommended in Science
for All Americans and Benchmarks? Does it vary according to
family structure and circumstances? Cultural background? If the school
and the families it serves are at odds on this, what steps have proven
to be helpful in reaching a workable compromise?
What are the responsibilities of parents, community health agencies, state
and federal governments, and the schools in safeguarding the health of
all school-age children? Where do the issues of drugs, drinking, teenage
pregnancy, and other health-related issues that are value-laden, fit into
the education policy mix?
Does the reform of American industry in the 1980s and 1990s provide a model-or
anti-model-for education? If not a model, are their some particular lessons
to be learned for the operation of school systems? For the education of
students for employment in those industries?
How can school systems enlist the political influence of large corporations
on policy and financial issues at state and national levels? Likewise,
how can teachers and administrators gain the support of smaller businesses
in their communities? When the interests of business and education are
in conflict, as in tax matters, what's to be done?
Which kinds of business-school interactions pay off? What are the short
and long-term effects of contributions to the schools in the form of materials
and consultants, grants, career information, scholarships or business-site
experience for teachers and school administrators? Do they come and go,
or are they generally sustained for years and decades?
American Association for
the Advancement of Science
Copyright © 1998 by American Association for the Advancement of Science