Milwaukee Science Teachers Say Education is Their Top Issue in Presidential Election
Survey of Wisconsin Science Teachers Released in Conjunction with NSTA Convention
ARLINGTON, VA, October 19, 2000—Just weeks before Election Day, as Americans make their final decisions about who to elect for President, science teachers in Wisconsin indicate that education tops their list of priorities. This and other information appears in a survey of Wisconsin science teachers released today by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) in conjunction with its Midwest Area Convention taking place in Milwaukee October 19–21.
When asked to rank the importance of four major issues in this year's presidential election, nearly 59 percent of the responding science educators indicated that education is the most important issue. An additional 29 percent consider education the second most important issue, bringing the combined figure to nearly 88 percent. Ranking far behind education, the next most important issue is health care (23.2 percent), followed by the economy (14.9 percent), and crime (3.6 percent). These figures align with the results of nationwide polls that indicate that Americans see the education of America's youth as the make-or-break issue in this election.
"Education must be a priority because we are teaching in the 21st-century classroom and it's nothing like it used to be," said Alyssa Dobyns, an 8th-grade science teacher from Menasha, WI. "I want to know how our presidential candidates can help me give a classroom of 33 students, many from non-traditional backgrounds, a good education; one that will prepare them to enter college, to secure jobs in the workplace of tomorrow, and to live productive lives."
"It is clear that the education of our youth is a priority both nationally and locally," said Arthur Eisenkraft, NSTA President. "We hope that this survey sends a strong message not only to the presidential candidates, but to others running for local, state, and national office."
When teachers were asked if they would like to see the federal government increase its support for science education, a resounding 95 percent said "yes." (In fact, education will take center stage next year when Congress reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the main federal law governing K-12 education programs. Teaching and learning, including science instruction, are expected to be a major focus during the reauthorization. In addition, a report released last month by the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century-the Glenn Commission-calls for a "national response" to the many issues facing science educators.)
When asked about reform efforts, 58 percent of the respondents said that these efforts were having a positive impact in their school. Unfortunately, 28 percent said they were not. Reform efforts in science education began in the early 1990's with the publication of Benchmarks for Science Literacy, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Science Education Standards, a product of the National Research Council. These visionary documents establish goals for what children should know and understand in science and set voluntary national standards in science instruction. States are enthusiastically embracing these goals.
"While it's encouraging that 58 percent of the responding teachers believe reform efforts are going in the right direction, our challenge is to address the 28 percent who believe they are not," remarked Eisenkraft.
Held at the Midwest Express Center and at local hotels, the NSTA convention is bringing together educators from around the region who will take part in hundreds of presentations and workshops, learn about innovative teaching methods in science education, and discover the latest products and resources for the science classroom.
Conducted in early October, the NSTA survey was sent electronically to approximately 2,000 science educators in Wisconsin; approximately 200 were completed and returned, resulting in a 10 percent response rate.
Founded in 1944, the National Science Teachers Association seeks to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. Its 53,000-plus members include science teachers of all grade levels, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in science education.