At the front lines of K-12 geoscience education: Perspectives from the 2008 survey of National Earth Science Teachers Association members

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Roberta M. Johnson, NESTA, Boulder, CO; and M. J. Passow, A. Herrold, and P. Pennington

Results from a recent survey of members of the National Earth Science Teachers Association provide a sobering glimpse of the challenges teachers on the front line of K-12 education in the Earth, atmospheric, oceanic, and space sciences face today. Members report that many teachers in this field are teaching out of their field, and are in need of professional development in the subject. Furthermore, this field of study is not considered important compared to the other sciences, and as a result lacks funding, resources, and adequate staff. The large majority of universities do not accept high school courses in the geosciences as lab courses, leading to the perception that the material is not as important as the other sciences at the high school level. As a result, many school districts across the country are removing these from required course lists, moving them to electives, or dropping them entirely. Members report that the lack of understanding of the importance of these courses may reflect a widespread lack of understanding of the importance of the geosciences in society in general.