Science is a Key to America’s Future
By Bob Eby, State Board of Education Vice-Chair
At the heart of every field — medicine, education, and manufacturing to name a few — there is a constant need to ask questions and learn more information. Before we can seek to change anything, we must understand what it is and how it works.
This spirit of inquisitiveness is first formally taught to us all in science courses. As we learn physical science, biology, chemistry, physics, and more, we not only better understand the world, but how to research and advance our knowledge of any subject.
As a chemical engineer, science has shaped every step of my career. For more than 48 years, I have worked in applied research and development. During this period, I have been a co-author of three patents and have seen major advancements in all areas of science and technology. Even now “in retirement” I am able to serve as a senior technical consultant to the National Nuclear Security Administration and work on some of our country’s most important future needs in an evolving environment. Science offers our students a valuable and rewarding lifelong career.
The challenge, then, with science education is that the content is not stagnant. As our environment evolves, so must our educational standards and curriculum. This progression of education better prepares our students to enter the ever-changing workforce.
In 2015, the State Board of Education was charged in law with the regular review of the English language arts and math academic standards. Academic standards are the topics and concepts a student should know and understand at the end of a course. Since then, the State Board of Education has been charged with conducting the regular review of the state’s K-12 science and social studies standards as well.
Late this summer, a review of Tennessee’s science academic standards once again got underway. This process relies on the feedback and comments from citizens of the state, as well as the review and refinement of the standards by educators and experts in the field.
At the close of the first round of public feedback this September, the State Board of Education received over 10,000 comments on the science academic standards. Four hundred twenty-one citizens contributed to this collective mission to advance Tennessee’s science education. Now, teams of expert Tennessee educators will take that public feedback and work to propose revisions to the standards.
To continue the push for current and relevant science education in our public schools, we need the public to share their feedback and comments. Early in 2022, the State Board will launch the second round of public feedback on the potential updates to Tennessee’s science standards. Members of the public can launch the survey to provide comments on a single strand of the standards or several. The survey is broken out into sections by grade-level and subject.
The importance and value of America’s science and math education cannot be overstated. Whether it leads to advancements in new technologies, helps us find critical vaccines, allows us to be competitive in the world economic stage or deter foreign aggression, it is critical that the U.S. remain the leaders in world science fields. The key to that is a solid foundation in K-12 education. To achieve this, we need your feedback by reviewing the revised Tennessee Science standards.
Visit www.tn.gov/sbe/committees-and-initiatives/standards-review.html to learn more about the review process, how you can provide feedback, and more.
The Tennessee State Board of Education is a ten-member, governor-appointed and legislatively confirmed board charged under the law with rulemaking and policymaking for K-12 education. Through a close partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education, the Board maintains oversight in K-12 implementation and academic standards.