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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
Obama's Education Pick Gets Science
16 December 2008 5:33 pm
The science education community is adding its voice to the chorus of praise accompanying President-elect Barack Obama's selection of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. As CEO of Chicago Public Schools for the past 7 years, Duncan has pushed to narrow the achievement gap in math and science between poor, minority students and the rest of the student population as part of a broader program of reform. Along the way, he's made quite an impression on scientists working to improve the quality of what are called STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—fields.
"He's a good guy, and he's been a breath of fresh air," says physics Nobelist Leon Lederman, a leader in STEM education in Illinois and around the country. "Of course, I wouldn't be so excited about his chances of being a good education secretary if the big boss wasn't also interested in improving STEM education."
Two years ago, Duncan wowed a commission, co-chaired by Lederman, that was asked by the oversight body of the National Science Foundation to examine STEM. Duncan described a host of changes, from streamlining the math curriculum to sending teachers back to school for additional training. That's no easy task for what was once one of the country's worst-performing school districts, although he admits that the district still has a long way to go.
Duncan has also brought in outside science groups to lend a hand. Next month, one such group, the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA), will open its first field office at a school on the city's South Side. Staff at the academy, a residential high school for top students from around the state, will give students hands-on, inquiry-based instruction at the same time their teachers are learning how to incorporate such techniques into their daily lessons. "We can run a program after school, on the weekends, over the summer, or whatever," says Glenn "Max" McGee, president of IMSA.
McGee, a former Illinois school superintendent, says that closing the achievement gap in math and science is a priority for Duncan that he is likely to take with him to Washington, D.C. "He's a visionary who gets things done. He hires good people, and sets out clear goals. He also has an uncanny ability to keep from getting distracted."
Although he's not a scientist, Duncan isn't above using the appeal of science to sell education reform. Two years ago, in one of his many appearances before Congress, Duncan told a House education panel that it should follow the path taken by biomedical research advocates in pushing for additional funding for the National Institutes of Health. "So today I am going to challenge Congress to show the same confidence it showed for medical research," Duncan said at the conclusion of his testimony. "My challenge is this: Double the funding for No Child Left Behind within 5 years."