National News Roundup
A reorganization of the National Research Council, the research arm of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, will bring "new and heightened visibility" to precollege science and mathematics education, according to a spokesman for the Academy.
The reorganization, which began in early April, will consolidate the council's existing seven assemblies and commissions into three commissions, two offices, and an independent board.
Under the new structure, elementary and secondary education will be included in the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, one of the Academy's three major commissions.
The council has considered issues related to precollege education in the past, the spokesman said, but the new structure will bring a "new emphasis" to this level of education.
The shift in emphasis occurred, the spokesman said, because, "It is the feeling of the board and the [Academy's] president that science and mathematics education at the secondary level is in a dismal state."
One of the first efforts to address this problem will take place on May 12 and 13, when the Academy will sponsor a national convocation on precollege science and mathematics. Participants will include educators, representatives of foundations and industry, government officials, and Cabinet members. Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell will be invited to attend, the spokesman said.
School boards, with a little money and a great deal of imagination, could be important forces in improving the performance of teachers, according to one of the nation's foremost teacher-educators.
"We don't spend enough time noticing what teachers are doing well in the trenches and rewarding them," said Michael Timpane, dean of Teachers College, Columbia University, and a former director of the National Institute of Education.
Mr. Timpane, speaking to educators and graduate students at Columbia, suggested that school-district officials become more receptive to the supervision of teachers by education-school faculty members--particularly during preservice practice teaching.
In order to attract and retain talented teachers, Mr. Timpane recommended that districts consider:
Giving teachers opportunities for advancement--perhaps as "head" or "master" teachers--without requiring that they leave the classroom for administrative positions.
Paying higher salaries to teachers in subjects in which there are shortages.
Enlisting the help of businesses to provide fellowships for outstanding teachers and other incentives for school improvement. Such cooperation might also reduce the sense of isolation reported by many teachers.
Regarding paraprofessionals as possible recruits for teaching.
Awarding small grants, as the schools in Pittsburgh and San Francisco have, to teachers who develop promising techniques.
Most parents of prospective college students say that an income-tax deduction for tuition payments would be the best student financial-aid program that the federal government could offer them, according to the findings of a recent survey.
According to the survey of approximately 6,600 parents, which was drawn from High School and Beyond, the 1980 study by the National Center for Education Statistics, 56 percent of those adults interviewed said that they were willing to assume primary responsibility for financing their children's college education. Ninety-three percent of the parents said, however, that they strongly desired some assistance from the federal government in the form of a tax deduction.
Approximately 75 percent of the parents also said that their children should take some responsibility for financing their education, and that the federal government should help them do this by providing them with work-study aid.
According to the survey, 79 percent of the parents said that students who participate in work-study programs are the most deserving of financial aid for schooling. The financial-aid plan least often endorsed by parents was one that would provide aid to intelligent students irrespective of need. Such a scheme was favored by only 39 percent of those surveyed.
Copies of the report, Parental Views on Student Financial Aid, can be obtained from the Statistical Information Office, National Center for Education Statistics, 400 Maryland Ave. S.W., Washington, D.C. 20202.