Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The real threat to science education (Hint: it's not creationists)

Peter Wood, executive director of the National Association of Scholars, writes in the most recent Chronicle of Higher Education about why he thinks more American students are not succeeding in science:

The science "problems" we now ask students to think about aren't really science problems at all. Instead we have the National Science Foundation vexed about the need for more women and minorities in the sciences. President Lawrence H. Summers was pushed out of Harvard University for speculating (in league with a great deal of neurological evidence) that innate difference might have something to do with the disparity in numbers of men and women at the highest levels of those fields. In 2006 the National Academy of Sciences issued a report, "Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering." Officials of the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education are looking to use Title IX to force science graduate programs to admit more women. The big problem? As of 2001, 80 percent of engineering degrees and 72 percent of computer-science degrees have gone to men.

... A society that worries itself about which chromosomes scientists have isn't a society that takes science education seriously.

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