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Teaching Science in U.S. Isan Experiment Gone Awry

Posted Sep 13 2008 3:50am

A few days ago, I was harping about how awful math education is in this nation. Today, I can harp on how much worse of a job this nation does teaching science.

Nationwide, 43 percent of our children virtually no understanding of science by fourth and eighth grade, reports The New York Times. But in some cities, more than half of the kids fail to grasp science.

“It’s a national disgrace,” Rodger W. Bybee, director of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, tells the Times. “We as a nation should be able to do better than that.”

In a way, this story makes my case about why our kids have so much trouble in math: we don’t teach the practical applications of those tool, and science is the epitome of applying math to something tangible.

The Times’ story also reveals extreme race discrimination. Nationwide, 28 percent of whites are failing to grasp basic science, but among blacks students that rate jumps to 73 percent. Hispanics are doing marginally better, with 67 percent failing in science.

Actually, the scores are much worse if you look at it from another angle. Of whites, 38 percent nationally are proficient in science. Only 6 percent of blacks are proficient and 9 percent of Hispanics are proficient.

How can that be in a technology-driven society? It’s hard to fathom.

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