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Topic: Glenn Commission Report
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Glenn Commission Report
Posted: Sep 27, 2000 4:25 PM
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From Research for Better Schools list, Wednesday, September 27, 2000.

BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE -- A Report to the Nation from the National
Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century

[ The Executive Sumary and full text is available online now at ]

The National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the
21st Century released its final report today. That Commission,
chaired by Senator John Glenn (and also known as the Glenn
Commission), makes only a few straightforward points, but it makes
them urgently and insistently.

FIRST, at the daybreak of this new century and millennium, the
Commission is convinced that the future well-being of our nation and
people depends not just on how well we educate our children
generally, but on how well we educate them in mathematics and science

From mathematics and the sciences will come the products, services,
standard of living, and economic and military security that will
sustain us at home and around the world. From them will come the
technological creativity American companies need to compete
effectively in the global marketplace. "Globalization" has occurred.
Economic theories of a few years ago are now a reality. Goods
services, ideas, communication, businesses, industries, finance,
investment, and jobs, the good jobs, are
increasingly the competitive currency of the inter-national marketplace.

Beyond the world of global finance, mathematics and science will also
supply the core forms of knowledge that the next generation of
innovators, producers, and workers in every country will need if they
are to solve the unforeseen problems and dream the dreams that will
define America's future.

SECOND, it is abundantly clear from the evidence already at hand that
we are not doing the job that we should do, or can do, in teaching
our children to understand and use ideas from these fields. Our
children are falling behind; they are simply not "world-class
learners" when it comes to mathematics and science.

The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) tested
the students of 41 nations. Children in the United States were among
the leaders in the fourth-grade assessment, but by high school
graduation they were almost last. Here at home, the National
Assessment of Educational Progress basically substantiates our
students' poor performance.

In short, our children are losing the ability to respond not just to
the challenges already presented by the 21st century but to its
potential as well. We are failing to capture the interest of our
youth for scientific and mathematical ideas. We are not instructing
them to the level of competence they will need to live their lives
and work at their jobs productively. Perhaps worst of all, we are
not challenging their imaginations deeply enough.

THIRD, after an extensive, in-depth review of what is happening in
our classrooms, the Commission has concluded that the most powerful
instrument for change, and therefore the place to begin, lies at the
very core of education?with teaching itself.

The teaching pool in mathematics and science is inadequate to meet
our current needs; many classes in these subjects are taught by
unqualified and underqualified teachers. Our inability to attract
and keep good teachers grows. As a result, newer, technologically
oriented industries are having trouble finding enough qualified
employees from among those teachers' students. Worse, creativity
atrophies and innovation suffers.

The Commission is of one mind in its belief that the way to interest
children in mathematics and science is through teachers who are not
only enthusiastic about their subjects, but who are also steeped in
their disciplines and who have the professional training, as
teachers, to teach those subjects well. Nor is this teacher training
simply a matter of preparation; it depends just as much, or even
more, on sustained, high-quality professional development.

FOURTH, the Commission believes that committing ourselves to reach
three specific goals can go far in bringing about the basic changes
we need. These goals go directly to issues of quality, quantity, and
an enabling work environment for teachers of mathematics and science.
For each goal, The Commission report offers specific action
strategies for achieving that particular goal, ideas on who should
implement them, and how. Specifically, the report offers suggestions
on how to:

. Establish an ongoing system to improve the quality of mathematics
and science teaching in grades K-12;

. Increase significantly the number of mathematics and science
teachers and improve the quality of their preparation; and

. Improve the working environment and make the teaching profession
more attractive for K-12 mathematics and science teachers.

In the end, then, the message of this report is a simple one. The
time has come to move from the information and analysis we have
gathered to the resolution we need. We are summoned to answer a
stark question. As our children move toward the day when their
decisions will be the ones shaping
a new America, will they be equipped with the mathematical and
scientific tools needed to meet those challenges and capitalize on
those opportunities?

These are our children, and the choice is ours. We know what we have
to do; the time is now, before it's too late.
Both the full text of Before It's Too Late and the report's executive
summary are available online now at
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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