Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Mr. President:

I agree with you that it is a problem that not many men and woman are going into math and science related careers. I think this is because not many schools offer science or math very often and this is a very serious issue. Another cause may be that some schools dont have skilled and passionate teachers to teach, motivate, and make their students feel confident. Or maybe it is that some schools dont have the right equipment to experiment with, to make learning even more fun. Imagine, Mr. President, learning the difficult, confusing subjects of math and science by just reading out of a textbook. It would'nt really make you want to be a mathematician or scientist when you grow up. -fd

Ms. Farina:

I just wanted to tell you how you can make the city of New York better at Math and Science in the future. Some students get teachers who scream and punish them at Science and Math time. Students will think that these wonderful subjects are not fun. You should fix this. Some students only get Science once or twice in school. And I don't mean every week, I mean for 1 or 2 years! How can there be more Scientists, Mathematicians, and Engineers if this is happening? -bt

Chancellor Klein:

My school has 3 grades and only 2 science teachers. That's a problem. I think each grade should have a science teacher. And we only get Science four times per week, and with all the vacations we have, we don't get enough science. It is already bad enough that I did not get Science in 4th and 5th grades, so I think I need catching up. I only had Science in 4th grade for about a month and that was because we had the science test, and last year in 5th grade it was a privilege to get science. -jj

In his State of the Union speech, George Bush explained how there aren't lots of people in Science and Math professions. How are people going to become science professionals if elementary schools don't offer that many science classes? ... When I was in Elementary school I was only getting science in 2nd grade and 4th grade. We wouldn't have had science in the 4th grade if there hadn't been the test. -lr

You need to ask yourself how much science is being taught in school these days? It's just barely being taught. I'm not talking about [school], but in my elementary school they never taught science; yes I did not receive any science lessons. So how are kids supposed to choose a profession that deals with science and mathematics if they did not get the foundation early in life in elementary school? That should be the foundation for everything we will learn and be in life. If students do not get the basics, it will be like a person who speaks English and tries to speak a language he or she has never heard of. -ln


Letters written after reading and discussing an excerpt from the State of the Union address, an article about the gender gap in science & math, and an article about the race gap in math & science.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If math and science are not recognized in a child's home as pursuits of great value, there is virtually no hope a child will become engrossed in either.

As it is no more than one or two percent of students pursue engineering degrees in college. Science degrees may be more common, but few kids from even the best schools acquire science degrees or enter careers based on science.

Math. Not many in that category either.

But all that avoids the real issue: science and math illiteracy.

Does Calculus matter? No. Unless you're headed for engineering. Yeah, science students, economics students and even business students need a small dose to pass some classes, but that's it.

However, those people aren't mathematically illiterate.

On the other hand, far too many students, as Ms Frizzle points out, are simply mathematically ignorant -- and willing to remain that way, with the support of their families.

Throwing math and science teachers at the problem won't solve it. The problem doesn't boil down to "learning" math and science. It's much deeper. It's cultural.

And as long as their familial and cultural practices include mathematical and science illiteracy, the problems will persist, because no one has ever acquired mathematical knowledge against his/her will.

12:16 PM  
Blogger pseudostoops said...

God, your kids are terrific writers. Reading the letters, hearing their developing personal voices coming through, makes me miss teaching. A lot.

Also, they get it. Good for you for helping them love science and value their (all too rare) excellent science instruction.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Tep said...

Dear Mr. President:

If you were serious about developing talented scientists and gifted sciene instructors, maybe you should begin showing some respect for science. A good start would be to stop silencing NASA climatologists and any others who talk about global warming, and you also should stop promoting "intelligent" design as an alternative to evolution. How do you expect people to take science seriously when it's obvious that you don't?

(end rant)

7:46 PM  
Blogger the anonymous teacher said...

I'm jealous of your students' writing abilities. I have seniors who aren't as well-spoken as your students *I think mainly out of laziness in most cases*. I love that you have instilled such a passion in them about math and science that they are capable of writing their feelings on the subject so clearly and eloquently.
You must be a very talented and caring teacher.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Bananahead said...

I am shocked that they received no science education in elementary school at all or only selected grades. That is disgusting ... so much for a 'well-balanced' education! I hope your students think seriously about sending their letters and yay on you for encouraging them to take an active stance for their education!

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Katy said...

Your kids rock!

I teach history and literacy in Newark and I find the same exact thing with history - most of my kids very rarely had history or social studies by the time they come to my middle school, because it's not tested. The overwhelming majority of my fifth graders, when entering my class, do not know (with any kind of regularity) the difference between states, cities, and countries, the capitol of the US, what voting is or why it matters, where anything is in the world, or the fact that Martin Luther King Jr and Harriet Tubman were not, in fact, contemporaries hanging out together. I think it's criminal.

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Regarding your view that employees should speak out openly against their employers, well, that's not the basis for anything good unless you believe that employees have a duty to work against the organizations that employ them.

The NASA employee is free to quit NASA and say whatever he wants about global warming -- without fear of reprisals.

But frankly, I don't want a disgruntled employee working on Space Shuttles and related activities. If he wants to leak information anonymously to the press, well, that's okay.

But permitting open defiance against top management harms the mission of the organization. And quibbling over global warming is not important to NASA operations.

If information suggesting Space Shuttles suffered from inferior engineering and construction were surfacing, that might have merit. But using one's position at NASA to take the federal government to task on issues not under NASA's purview is misguided.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous 1st Grade Teacher said...

I am shocked that they received no science education in elementary school at all or only selected grades. That is disgusting

It's also quite practical. At the end of the year I'm personally evaluated on whether my kids can read and write, not the sciences. As I plan for the week, if it's a choice between teaching vowel blends, taking a writing sample, and buddy reading in an hour or doing something with science, I'm going to go with the reading materials every time.

And really, as a primary teacher, shouldn't I? Research says that if the kids aren't getting it by the end of 1st grade they're likely to still be struggling later on, which doesn't benefit anyone.

2:50 PM  

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