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U.S. School Board Trainers to Get Ambitious New Science Resources Today
With science, mathematics, and technology studies of increasing concern to U.S. education leaders, AAAS and the National School Boards Association will debut cutting-edge science-related materials and a new Web site Friday at a conference of school board trainers in Virginia.
Most state school board associations employ trainers to help prepare and develop local board members, and the workshop will allow trainers their first chance to work with the new training module under the direction of the lead developer, Angie Peifer, associate executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards. It also marks the launch of a related Web site, www.smartschoolboards.org.
"The best way to help school boards improve science, math, and technology programs is to offer training through their state associations. Friday's conference offers the perfect opportunitiy to introduce state association trainers to these new materials," said Peyton West, senior program associate with AAAS's Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion program and project manager on the SMarT Training for School Boards initiative.
The workshop will cover why science, math, and technology (SMT) education is important, the nature and use of learning standards; public engagement around science, mathematics, and technology education; and how to address these topics using the model of The Key Work of School Boards, a guidebook from the National School Boards Association (NSBA). The workshop, to be led by Peifer and West, is part of the 2008 NSBA Trainers Conference, a three-day gathering in Alexandria, Va, that is expected to attract about 70 school board trainers. The workshop is scheduled to run from 10:45 a.m. to noon on Friday 27 June.
The AAAS/NSBA project has enormous potential to influence science, math, and technology education: AAAS is deeply engaged in promoting and improving science-related education at every level. NSBA represents 95,000 local school board members—virtually all of them elected—who govern nearly 15,000 local school districts serving more than 47 million public school students.
Under a three-year, $739,000 grant from the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the organizations have spent more than a year developing science, mathematics, and technology education resources that can help train and inform local school board officials.
The SMarT Training DVD includes two sets of materials: an introductory module and a day-long workshop. Each set includes a facilitator's guide, a participant's manual, and an audiovisual presentation. The introductory module was distributed to state school boards associations earlier this year at AAAS headquarters in Washington, D.C., during the NSBA's annual Leadership Conference, but the full workshop and the Web site will be demonstrated on Friday for the first time. It will be the trainers who are expected to convey word of the new materials to boards and members in their states.
Development of the SMarT Training materials was based on interviews with dozens of interviews with elected school board members in the Kansas City metropolitan area conducted by Public Agenda, the non-partisan research organization.
According to West and others involved in the initiative, the initial assumption was that the teaching of evolution would be a key preoccupation for school board members. Instead, many board members told the interviewers they were frustrated with the high profile of evolution in school discussions and news coverage. Of more concern, they said, is what schools must do to prepare students for the 21st century economy, in which growth and opportunity will be concentrated in science and technology fields.
26 June 2008