WYBI: Up Close with the NSF

Do you know how much power NSF has in education?
Do you know how much power NSF has in education?

How much do you know about the NSF (National Science Foundation) and their ties to CCSS and STEM? Would you believe Arne Duncan was considered an expert by them back in 2007? Yep! It happened. But wait, there’s more…

A brief look at NSF’s History:

NSF has been around since 1950. President Truman signed the NSF Act after the atomic bomb was dropped. The goal? Peace via science. In 1953 and 54, the federal agency beefed up teaching in the post-secondary and secondary areas. 1957 brought the advent of the social sciences under NSF’s grasp. Then, in 1971 and 72, improving minority education as well as being responsible for all science education began. A makeover/upgrade for K-12 science curriculum happened in 1987. 2000 brought “Partnerships for Innovation” where education, communities, and P3s (public, private partnerships) were encouraged. (for more history, see their timeline, http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/history-nsf/timeline/index.jsp )

 

Bring on the Common Core/STEM beginnings:

From 1999, a paper about workforce, common standards, and education: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/1999/nsb9931/nsb9931-5.htm

From 1999, a paper about common math and science education standards: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/1999/nsb9931/nsb9931-3.htm

From the Meeting Minutes for the NSF, May 2014, this is what I found on page 5: “For the topic of the Common Core, which was popular in the media recently, he called on Dr. Córdova for information on this subject. She introduced Dr. Joan Ferrini-Mundy, Assistant Director, Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), for an overview on common core standards and issues for the Board’s attention. Dr. Ferrini-Mundy reported that the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts were the current phase of a long series of activity around K-12 standards based education from the 1980’s. These were developed by the National Governors Association (NGS) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) beginning in 2009 without a direct Federal role in the development. The two major goals of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics are to create clearer and higher standards that (1) describe what students should know and be able to do in order to be ready for college or career at the end of high school; and (2) to ensure common outcomes across various jurisdictions. One of the major features of this movement is to look for equitable access to learning opportunities across the states, where previously there were major differences in expectations for students across the country. The Standards were released after an elaborate development process in 2010 for state adoption. As of 2011, 45 states plus the District of Columbia adopted the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. The Department of Education funded two consortia to develop the Common Corealigned assessments of states that have come together with nonprofit groups to prepare the assessment tools that will then measure whether students are making progress towards these common standards. There is considerable controversy about the Common Core. She stated that it is complicated and it has multiple facets. Dr. Ferrini-Mundy stated that teachers in 45 states plus the District of Columbia were expected to work with the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. NSF sees proposals for work that will help to better understand and to address the challenges of implementation of Common Core and other standards in states that are not using the Common Core. As NSF does not have a special program around the Common Core, the proposals go through the standard merit review processes. Federal support that was provided for their development is in the form of the support that the Department of Education provided for the assessment work. In response to a question on examples of Mathematics Common Core, Dr. Ferrini-Mundy indicated that the Common Core State Standards have many interpretations and do not prescribe curriculum or instructional approaches to ideas. One of the actual implementation issues is how to go from standards that say “here is what students should know and be able to do” to “what is the best way to effectively help learners get to these places.” She added that watching how these assessments play out will be important as they are coming at a time when the standards have not been fully implemented. From the NSF perspective, the potential of standards to help to improve access to good learning is important.”  (see the entire meeting minutes: http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/meetings/2014/0506/minutes.pdf )

From May 2014: The NSF’s vision for redefining education: AC_ReEnvisioning_Report_Sept_2014_01 (*Note: when you access this download, you’ll notice on page 6, the phrase ‘federal Common Rule’. If you don’t know what the federal Common Rule is, it’s definition can be found at the U.S. Health/Human Service’s website. You will be most interested to see what this rule allows/prohibits when it comes to the types of research and data collected on us as humans. You’ll want to see all the federal agencies with access to all this information, too. http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/commonrule/ )

The Power Congress Gives NSF:

If you aren’t aware of how much money and power our U. S. Congress gives the NSF, you’ll want to see the 2014 FIRST Act. Then, consider how much is devoted to blending academics, research, and workforce. See: BILLS-113HR4186ih-HR4186FrontiersinInnovationResearchScienceandTechnologyActof2014 (*Note: you’ll notice STEM is used repeatedly. Remember NSF is the group which coined the term as a updated reference to SMET (Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology) to influence us, especially in education. The first evidence of the use of “STEM” that I could find was from a testimony given by Dr. Rita Colwell back in 2002. Dr. Colwell was speaking to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions as to why an increased federal budget was needed. (see her testimony: http://www.nsf.gov/about/congress/107/rrc_help061902.jsp )

Related:

1) It has been argued that STEM is not served well by CCSS. However, I had evidence that proves STEM, as an overall agenda item (meaning not only education, but workforce), is using CCSS as a means to an end. How so? See my previously published article: https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/from-the-files-pcast-stem-and-common-core/)

2) The 2007 National Action Plan for STEM is another resource you may wish to have. stem_action2007 (*Note: you’ll be pleased to know that current Dept of Ed Secretary Arne Duncan was among the members who was considered an expert on 21st Century education.  He was, at that time, CEO of Chicago Public Schools.)  This report is slam full of alignment for what’s taught, P-20 Councils, workforce, global good, and the usual rhetoric we hear for CCSS. Here’s an excerpt from one of the sidebars, “Dewey urged scientists to convey the science way of thinking to all phases of education as a “SUPREME INTELLECTUAL OBLIGATION.” Although this includes critical thinking, curiosity, skepticism, and verification by observation and measurement, its deeper meaning has to do with the sense of wonder and awe that emerges from the student’s gradual realization that the natural world is orderly and comprehensible. Th e overarching laws of science enable predictions: sunrise, weather, and the hour and day of the return of Halley’s Comet in 2061. Th e appreciation and respect implied here are tragically missing from our science classrooms.”

3) For all the NSF monetary awards given for CCSS, STEM, (which may also include NextGen Science Standards), see: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/advancedSearchResult?QueryText=common%20core%20standards&ActiveAwards=true&#results (*Note: one of the biggest awards (almost $600,000) was given for CCSS curriculum)

4) See NSF’s statistics for college-ready students: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind14/index.cfm/chapter-1/c1s2.htm

5) To see a 2012 press release which states the shift from high stakes assessing to constant momentum tracking, http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=126071

6) To see NSF’s $200,000 grant awarded to Clark University for developing NextGen Exemplars, http://news.clarku.edu/news/2013/03/05/nsf-awards-clark-university-200k-for-innovative-next-gen-science-teaching-exemplar/

7) Here’s a 2010 press release detailing NSF’s funding to the Noyce Foundation and how it all ties back to CCSS. See: http://www.aaas.org/news/push-new-science-mathematics-standards-described-nsfaaas-education-conference

A video from the NSF’s YouTube Channel that you might find interesting, where you’ll hear the “PreK to Gray” education phrase. You’ll also be pleased to know that the grants NSF gives use YOUR taxpayer money!

Here’s another one from 2011, where the First Lady pushes STEM. However, listen to the gentleman who speaks before her. Listen for his shared vision between NSF and the current administration’s goal for education.

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