Chemical Society Panel Urges Higher Pay for Science Teachers

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Washington--A newly established task force on chemistry education within the American Chemical Society has released a brief report summarizing more than 100 recommendations for improving the quality of chemical education in the nation's schools.

The three-page report calls for more rigorous high-school graduation requirements in science (with a strong emphasis on chemistry), higher pay and more rigorous certification standards for science teachers, a longer school year, and the establishment of a national council on science education and 10 regional science centers.

The document was released prior to a roundtable discussion at the 186th annual meeting of the national chemistry group here last week. The 23-member task force of the acs, named in January, is made up of college professors, high-school chemistry teachers, and representatives from business and industry.

The acs initially set aside $75,000 for the task force and has received an additional $45,000 from the Exxon Education Foundation, according to Kenneth M. Chapman, director of the department of educational research and development for acs

The organization estimates that the task force will cost an additional $70,000.

The chemistry-education panel--chaired by Peter E. Yankwich, professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois--is divided into three groups that are currently studying ways to improve chemical education and scientific literacy for the general public; upgrading chemical education for stu-dents who will pursue careers in chemistry; and developing more and better chemistry programs for those students who must study chemistry as part of their training in other scientific fields.

The task force is in the process of reducing a list of 147 recommendations to 30. Its final report is scheduled for release in mid-April 1984.

Task Force Recommendations

The task force, according to an acs spokesman, is considering recommendations that would:

Create a National Council on Education in Science and Technology, with a subcommission charged with promoting public understanding of science and technology. These bodies would conduct research, evaluate progress, organize conferences and workshops, coordinate activities, and disseminate information to improve scientific literacy.

Encourage state departments of education to establish 11-month contracts for science teachers.

Encourage industry to provide salary supplements for outstanding teachers, opportunities for summer employment, and sabbatical employment for chemistry teachers.

Establish 10 regional science education centers to organize workshops for the con-tinuing education of teachers; develop curricular and instructional materials for grades K-12; and consult with elementary- and junior-high-school science specialists on the development and use of course materials.

Place emphasis in elementary-school science programs on careful observation and the role of science in everyday life.

Increase the amount of science required for teacher certification.

Make the laboratory component of high-school chemistry courses at least 25 percent of the time allotted for instruction.

Upgrade high-school graduation requirements in science to a minimum of three years, with a "substantial chemical component."

It is important that chemistry be taught in each year of high school, said Mr. Chapman of the acs A schedule that teaches three sciences per year with an emphasis on different sciences each year, he said, would help students better understand and appreciate chemistry.

"For example, one proposal would create a schedule in which students take three hours of biology, an hour of chemistry, and an hour of physics per week in the first year of high school; three hours of chemistry, an hour of biology and an hour of physics in the second year; and then three hours of physics
with an hour each in the other courses per week in the third year," Mr. Chapman said.

'In Close Contact'

The task force will work "in close contact" with the National Academy of Sciences' Committee to Survey Opportunities in the Chemical Sciences, headed by by George Pimentel, a professor of chemistry at the University of California Berkeley, according to William Spindel, executive secretary of the board on chemistry, science, and technology for nas

The nas committee will most likely use the task force's report and endorse, where appropriate, its final recommendations, Mr. Spindel said.

Also at the acs convention, the executive board tentatively approved new guidelines on physical facilities for the teaching of chemistry in schools. The recommendations, which include a list of necessary facilities, safety requirements, and professional considerations (such as the need for more release time for teachers and more participation of teachers in decision making about curriculum and facilities), are likely to be published by the chemical society later this year, according to David A. Phillips, associate professor of chemistry at Wabash College in Indiana and the author of the initial version of the guidelines.

Vol. 03, Issue 01

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