Science in Schools?

From amarinth’s link:

Emphasis added. I can’t tell from these statements if Berkeley High’s regular lab-science courses all do in fact provide any lab experience at all.

If the regular lab-science classes really are inadequately funded, to the extent of being unable to provide the labs they’re supposed to provide, then I can see the point of remedying that omission by taking funds from the supplemental-lab courses. We don’t want to be lavishing funds on high-achieving students to the extent of actually shortchanging other students.

However, if the regular lab-science courses are already adequately funded, or if the proposal would defund the supplemental-lab courses but not remedy the shortcomings in the other courses, then it seems unfair and/or counterproductive.

That’s another good point. From the link:

It’s not clear exactly what the details of the parcel tax were, but if the enriched science classes were originally funded specifically to provide academic enrichment to lower-achieving students, then it’s clearly inappropriate to use those funds for courses that serve mostly higher-achieving students.

Overall, this appears to be just the same type of conflict about how to divide school funds among regular education, remedial education, and advanced programs for high achievers that is endemic in school districts throughout the country. Everybody’s got their own ideas about which students “need” or “deserve” the money most.

Does anybody know why they’re having labs outside of class time? When I was in high school, I took college-prep chemistry and AP Physics. We did a lot of lab work for the chemistry class, but it was all during regular class time.

Don’t know. When I was a junior in high school I was driving into Pittsburgh three times a week to take college-level chemistry at Pitt.

I wonder if the article includes Asian students in the “white” class. I don’t know the composition of Berkeley High, but I don’t live that far away and not considering Asian kids in any discussion like this is absurd.

In my district the variable best predicting the test score of an elementary school is the percentage of kids getting subsidized breakfasts and lunches. We’ve got more Latino kids than black kids, Unless you want to consider Latino kids as a “race” I’ll go with economics.
While it might be true that there is a correlation between wealth and intelligence, I think the advantages a relatively rich kids has before and in school are pretty obvious.

However, non-Californians probably don’t comprehend how badly school districts are hurting for money. This is probably considered just one more hard choice among many.

The issue, I think, is not that there’s anything wrong with questioning whether particular projects in general are things schools should be doing.

Rather, the issue is that you seem to think that the edible schoolyard is something unique to Berkeley, and an additional thing to point to as an example of how messed up the schools in Berkely are, specifically. In fact, agriculture is taught at many, many schools. It was certainly taught at the high school I went to.

Thanks, all, for the responses. Frisk, Kimstu, your comments were especially poignant to me.
The 'Dope ROCKS!

No, I am not going to respond to your previous post, because it does not have to do with anything I’ve posted. Your only goal in any thread that touches on race is to spout your single theory, which will never change. I see no point in engaging you.

Well, I guess that’s one debating style…make a point, have it criticised, and then just walk away because the opposing viewpoint is “spouting their theory.” Why not point out why their theory is not illustrated by the example at hand?

I see Berkeley as a good example of a school with a record of trying hard to equalize opportunity, but nevertheless ending up with disparate results. And I can certainly understand why you would walk from a defending your assertion that income prevents full participation in extra-hours opportunity when confronted with photos of their football team. It’s sort of hard to maintain an assertion like yours with that picture staring you in the face…the kids on that football team are there because of superior performance, and no-one even thought to argue the underrepresented groups on the football team were somehow not given equal opportunity.

I remain critical of your haste to inject the word “hate,” though. I have defended elsewhere that we as a just society should extend an extra helping hand to those who cannot perform on par. There is nothing that requires us to pretend equivalent ability. Our moral obligation is to make sure that everyone gets a share of the pie, not to pretend that nature is fair.

You’re not alone. Labs took up the vast majority of my study time when I was in school. The ones I really remember were the ones the teacher did in front of the entire class anyway.

My mother knows someone who was a Principal at an elementary school in a very wealthy neighborhood. Demand and funding was down that year so they let a few part-time classroom aides go. One parent was very upset that their kid’s favorite aide was one of them, so she came into the school and asked what the problem was. Upon being told funding was down and they just didn’t need her this year, the parent asked how much an aide cost, busted out her checkbook and cut a check for the part time salary.

I’d believe more than some cultures place a lower value on science and math before I would believe they place a low value on education in general.

Depends on the culture, of course, but I think it’s fair to say that there are indeed cultures in which “book-learning” or academic schooling in general is undervalued compared to other types of experience or training.

Anybody read Ronald Blythe’s 1969 book Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village? That’s what came to mind when I saw Una’s comment, thinking of the elderly village artisans and farmers who were interviewed for the book and their disparagement of “schooling”: as one villager put it, in their youth they couldn’t wait for the time when they would be able to leave school and “start learning”.

They became wheelwrights and blacksmiths and farmers and so forth, and the “learning” that they thought of as genuinely important was the training in the techniques of their trade. It wasn’t that they weren’t intelligent and thoughtful people, it’s just that scholastic education as a whole didn’t seem very meaningful to them.

I think it’s fair to describe that as a culture that “doesn’t place a high value on education” in general, and I think it’s fair to say that there are subcultures in contemporary America that have somewhat similar attitudes. I went to elementary school in the 1970’s in the New Jersey Pine Barrens area, and not to reinforce Kallikak-type “piney” stereotypes or anything, but there were certainly some kids there from families with, um, a weaker cultural focus on academic education.

But I’m thinking in the context of southern California in 2010.

As a mainly “visual” person, I have to say that being in a lab, and actually seeing something happen can be more informative and more readily grasped than sitting in a class room listening to a teacher (no matter how good) and staring at equations. The class work and labs “help” each other to teach. The lab is where you get the hands on part of learning. It also helps to “weed out” those “A students” who can memorize the book and the test without understanding any of it.

I’m interesting in hearing about some examples of chemistry concepts (at a high school level) that are easier to understand by doing a lab rather than just thinking about them. I don’t disbelieve you, it’s just alien to my experience.

Chromatography, TLC, setting up a reaction, recrystallization, cannulation and failure. Seriously, you can’t learn how to run reactions out of a book. The book tells you which reactions to run, but there is a pretty steep earning curve in actually doing it. You and I can run reactions out of a book, but that’s because we’ve been doing it for years. Even with that you will still run into new set-ups that require different techniques you aren’t familiar with.

I assume you mean northern California.

There are big differences. The sad fact is that in our district Asian parents care a lot more about education and getting their kid into a good college than white parents. The latter group contains a lot of people who want to go the community college route to save money. One of my daughter’s teachers said in class that there wasn’t that much difference between the local community college and Harvard. This difference might be wealth based, but I think it is more culture based.

Not really what I had in mind as “chemistry concepts”. These are specific laboratory techniques, most of which aren’t seen until taking an organic chemistry lab in college. I’ve purified compounds by flash chromatography more times than I care to remember, but that doesn’t help me with the concept behind it, which I probably couldn’t explain anyway other than a few incoherent mutters about theoretical plates and Van Deemter plots.