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Local Alliances Urged for Improvement of Math, Science

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Alexandria, Va--Businesses, universities, and schools should form alliances at the local level to improve mathematics and science education, rather than seek improvements at the national level, participants said at a conference here this month.

"There is no math and science 'crisis,"' said Alan McClelland, a former executive with the Du Pont Company who is now deputy director of the division of teacher preparation at the National Science Foundation. "There are crises. We need to get down to the grass roots to find4out what the crisis is in each case."

Local alliances could train teachers in areas where there are shortages, Mr. McClelland explained, or could provide mentors for minority students in areas where minority achievement in science and math is a problem.

Alliances Flourish

In addition, noted Lynn Dierking, coordinator of the Community Learning Exchange of the Howard County, Md., Chamber of Commerce, local groups can help assure that national programs are properly implemented.

The conference was sponsored by8the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education, a two-year-old group that seeks to promote alliances between businesses, universities, and schools.

Since 1985, the coalition has identified some 250 alliances across the country, according to John M. Fowler, the coalition's director.

The coalition has helped form several, he said, but many predate its launch. He noted, however, that few such arrangements existed prior to 1980.

Mr. Fowler cited such examples as:

The Atlanta Partnership of Business and Education Inc., created inel10l1981; it sponsors conferences, teacher workshops, scholarships, internships, and other programs to promote K-12 education.

Industry Initiatives for Science and Mathematics Education, a Palo Alto, Calif., group, created in 1984, that aims to improve high-school science, math, and technology education by offering summer internships for teachers in industry.

The Texas Alliance for Science, Technology, and Mathematics Education, created in 1986; it sponsors conferences, teacher workshops, and other activities to improve teaching in those subjects.

The national organization, with4financial assistance from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, maintains a clearinghouse for information on local alliances and sponsors regional conferences to help spur new alliances.

The coalition also plans to develop strategies to hold local alliances together, according to Mr. Fowler.

But while business-university-school alliances should remain a part of the education system, they should not "become part of the problem,'' cautioned John Laubenstein, a program advisor for the Amoco Corporation.

"They should not be part of the bureaucracy," he said.

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