Science Education & Policy

Beginning in 1969, a court decision, motivated by a lack of racial integration in schools, led to students being shipped to schools in other neighborhoods. As part of a political campaign against Richard Nixon, his political opposition latched onto this forced busing and school desegregation to show they cared about minorities more. The trade-off was that kids were no longer in their own neighborhoods and felt like pawns in a culture war.

A new National Academy of Sciences (NAS) assessment examining the causes of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident affirms the culture of safety adhered to by the U.S. nuclear industry.

Core findings from the NAS study, “Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving the Safety of U.S. Nuclear Plants,” validate the actions that the nuclear industry has initiated in recent years to be ready to manage plants if extreme natural events occur that may exceed a plant’s design basis.

Vouchers to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets increase the amount of produce in the diets of some families on welfare, according to a new paper in research in Food Policy which suggests that farmers market vouchers can be useful tools in improving access to healthy food.  Perhaps. Half of the people dropped out of the test even though they got more money to shop for produce at farmer's markets.

The analysis was designed to validates a new provision in the Agricultural Act of 2014 that seeks to get low-income families buying produce at farmers markets rather than supermarkets.

A new paper by the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) has identified two factors that characterize sustainable university and college programs designed to increase the production of highly qualified physics teachers. Specifically, one or more faculty members who choose to champion physics teacher education in combination with institutional motivation and commitment can ensure that such initiatives remain viable. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teacher shortages are especially acute in physics, and the study points the way for institutions seeking to increase the number of STEM graduates prepared to teach. 

Activists unable to get the U.S.federal government to enact any law regarding labeling of genetically modified foods have successfully pushed for their own versions in a handful of states. But the resulting patchwork may create bigger headaches for the food industry.

Oregon’s Secretary of State certified a petition Wednesday to put GMO labeling on the November ballot. A similar effort is also underway in Colorado. Connecticut, Maine and Vermont have all passed GMO labeling laws over the last two years.

Teaching remains more art than science and a popular conjecture that has caught the attention of the education business has been that fourth grade is when students stop learning to read and start reading to learn.  People love to swap terms around that way. But is it accurate?

A new paper in Developmental Science says there is nothing special about fourth grade at all, there is no change in automatic word processing, a crucial component of that reading shift conjecture. Instead, some types of word processing become automatic before fourth grade, while others don't switch until after fifth.

California is the home of bans in the United States, everything from Happy Meals to golf courses and goldfish have come under fire.

Sometimes the bans pass, and it is always cheered as 'leadership' when that happens. Social authoritarians in other states then mimic it. But ban success can't always be quantified. In one instance, they can - with the cellphone ban. They were blamed for a lot of car accidents, so accidents must have dropped.

Except they didn't. A recent analysis found no evidence that the California ban on cellphones while driving has decreased traffic accidents.

During the 2011 and 2012 migration seasons, University of Missouri researchers monitored mallard ducks using satellite tracking, the first time ducks have been tracked closely during the entirety of their migration from Canada to the American Midwest and back.

They found that as mallards travel hundreds of miles across the continent, they use public and private wetland conservation areas extensively, which  illustrates the importance of maintaining protected wetland areas.

Education is in something a Catch-22. If they have standards, there will be dropouts among people who don't want to do the work to reach the minimum levels. If they don't have standards, they are just an assembly line and that is bad for teacher morale.

Because who is going to get blamed if students don't succeed? Teachers.

In America, radical environmental groups get something of a cultural free pass. 

It's understandable, because America is a two-party country. Due to that, otherwise scientifically literate Democrats will rationalize the anti-vaccine, anti-GMO and anti-nuclear members under their umbrella as being 'anti-corporate' while scientifically literate Republicans don the same blinders about climate science and denial of evolution.