It's about time Md. schools emphasized science

March 16, 2011

Like so many other articles in recent months, Nancy Grasmick's opinion piece that appeared in The Sun on March 14 emphasized the most recent buzz term in education, STEM ("Maryland: The state of science". Her statement, "Our nation has ignored science and math education for far too long," rang painfully true to me as a parent.

When my daughter entered the Baltimore County school system as a kindergartner in 2006, at what was touted as one of the county's top schools, complete with excellent Maryland standardized test scores, I expected something more academically.

What I observed was a heavy focus on the educational buzzword in vogue at the time, reading readiness, with little if no emphasis on any other academic subject. Parents and teachers seemed delighted that their children could "read" by the end of kindergarten that year; I was suspicious that many were memorizing, but that's beside the point.

The point is that I don't recall a single lesson in math taught the entire year, something that I probably wouldn't have missed as a parent active in the school (I volunteered regularly and dutifully looked at all homework that came home).

As for science, there was one single science experiment shown to the children all academic year, demonstrating how thermometers measure heat and cold. Children were invited to try the experiment on their free time at school. My daughter did it every day and was eager to try another experiment the following week. None came.

Concerned about what my husband and I recognized as major deficits in the curriculum, we thought long and hard about abandoning our neighborhood public school but finally decided the sacrifice we would have to make to do so would be worth it. At the very least, we felt our kids deserved to be exposed to all the core academic subjects during the school day.

I'm happy to see that Nancy Grasmick has expressed concern about the lack of science and math being taught in public schools. I'm sorry it took so long for administrators to recognize it. And I hope that, consequently, other subjects don't get dumped as the public school system ramps up its science and math curriculum.

Elizabeth Heubeck

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