You remember our governor don’t you? The one who said a few months ago that “education sucks.” The same one who had a 1.5 percent approval rating on our December survey.
The same one we’ve learned who wants to totally eliminate funding for a program called “Science in Motion.” Whack it from $1.5 million a year to ZERO. And stick a dagger into the heart of many rural schools that don’t have bushels of cash stuck in a corner.
Science teachers in these schools are wringing their hands. And they are sending me emails.
Here are the thoughts of one who teaches in a rural school in east Alabama where 86 percent of the students are on free-reduiced lunches and 80 percent of the student body is African-American.
“My thoughts on what I feel are the benefits of Science In Motion to myself. as well as my students.
Professional Development – ASIM does a fantastic job of training teachers. The professional development involves spending two weeks at Auburn or one of their other locations. The weeks are staggered and not consecutive. In the past, teachers received a stipend of $500/week; these ended a few years ago. Even so, most of us continue to attend because of what we get that will help our students, that being a working knowledge of each lab. Training is also a great time to network, meet teachers from other systems, compare war stories/successes, etc. I have friends for years that I met at ASIM training. Finally, ASIM spent much time correlating and updating all of their labs to the new science standards…apparently in vain.
Alignment with APlusCollegeReady –I am required to have the kids do a certain amount of specific labs. Being at A Title 1 school there is not money to buy equipment and supplies. While APlus did give me $2000 this year, a Vernier costs around $300 and I need at least eight. When I do labs requiring microscopes, ASIM brings me 28 scopes that cost about $1200-1500 each. Once again, way out of my price range. In a nutshell, I will not be able to teach an AP class without ASIM, and I will refuse to try.
ASIM Support – If I request, ASIM will send someone to facilitate a lab with my kids. Fortunately, due to the excellent training they have provided me, I’ve never had to do this but I know teachers that do, and regularly. Also, if there are any issues with a lab, ASIM will troubleshoot it until they find the problem and fix it.
Storage – ASIM picks up and drops off labs for me on Friday. This week I have 4 checked out. I do not have room to store all the labs I need to do during the year, but ASIM does.
It blows me away that I have been mandated to make engineers out of kids reading several grade levels behind and the best tool I have has been cut out of the governor’s budget. The people who arrived at this decision don’t give a damn about the kids of our state and, therefore, don’t give a damn about the future of Alabama.
Will I be leaving education? No. I am a teacher by choice, not necessity. But I will likely leave Title 1 for a system that has the funds and the desire to do school right.
The state of education in our State is not encouraging.”
Fortunately, the legislature gets the final say with education budgets. Let’s hope they are closer to the realities of what is going on in our schools that the governor is and will make sure Science in Motion is funded again.