[CESElist] Earth System Science Certification Program

smossavi6585 at charter.net smossavi6585 at charter.net
Tue Jul 31 23:09:16 MDT 2007

I am glad to hear from some of my colleagues that there are islands of progress in earth science education (Salisbury University, San Diego, San Jose State). However, I want to reiterate that much of academia is not simply apatethic or neutral but actively working AGAINST earth science education. For example...the situation at another MN's large trainer of teachers has been described as so fundamentally bad...that faculty at the University of MN Duluth actually came close to filing a formal complaint against the department for the damage they were doing to geology and earth science teachers!!!!

Along the lines of Paula Messina's description of the high school students involved in the college program...a similar program is spreading like wild fire within the MN state university system. Campuses are seeking to enrole large numbers of PSEO (Post Secondary Education Opportunity) students in their college courses.  Originally, the program was intended to give high school students lacking challenge in their home schools an opportunity to expand their horizons. Unfortunately, the economics of the program make it VERY lucrative for the state universities to enroll large numbers of such students, regardless of preparation, in their programs. As more and more of the high school students enter the college classes and struggle due to lack of maturity and preparation, administrative pressure is brought on the faculty to lower standards to insure their "success". The result is a dumbing down of the entire university system. With many young and untenured faculty teaching these low level courses...there is little chance of resisting this negative trend from within.  While this problem is not specific to science education...it affects many students in science.

I fully agree that we need to promote positive examples on reform activity in academia. But, we need to be honest about all the indefensible practices which go on in our own industry. Providing a pass to such behavior does not enhance our credibility or strengthen our hand when we attempt to convince the wider society of the need to accept our reform suggestions. Considering that we have MORE ability to influence academia than the wider society...we should make sure not to neglect our obligations to get our own house in order!

So...I'll get off my soap box and head off to bed! Let's keep the discussion going.

Dean Moosavi

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