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twisters for titles, but even many of the ones in plain English are clearly questionable. There is a fine line between what is "nice" to know and what is vital to know when you begin assessing basic knowledge. The NSF has made its policy one of erring on the side of “nice”. My concern is that by funding many projects with weak rationales we may be diverting funds from other vital areas of concern among them being the pockets of the American taxpayer. I have heard many cases cited showing how seemingly trivial research can find a circuitous way into an area of extreme relevance. Under this assumption a case could be made that any item of research from anybody could have applications vital to the country if only that researcher had adequate funds to pursue the project and publish the findings. In an extreme case we could end up giving each and every citizen a research voucher under the assumption that everyone might eventually come upon a breakthrough in a given area of academia in their lifetime. The point of this scenario is that everyone in America is thinking and expanding knowledge daily. Whether it is a college student completing an independent study or an office worker completing a policy analysis there are countless numbers of people committing thoughts to paper on an ongoing basis. Some of these people focus their energies more than others and therefore form a smaller group of researchers who break new intellectual grounds in sophisticated ways. Whether at the Brookings Institute, the Heritage Foundation, or a small Midwestern University, these professional thinkers are moving knowledge in the humanities forward with and without federal subsidy.
The bizarre grants issued by the NSF that catch the flak from Congress and the media do show the wide range of intellectual activities going on in America. I have nothing against someone devoting their life to the study of Dutch labor markets in the 1580's. However, I do object to the federal government making a policy decision that such a project is worthy of federal funds. Any Federal action that involves either sudsidy or cost is a transfer of resources from one person or persons to another person or persons. I do not agree that it is the role of government to control such a flow where basic knowledge is concerned within the humanities. The millions of dollars spent by NSF on humanities grants may seem like a pittance in relation to the entire federal budget, but it is still part of the larger effort of government to control resource allocation in this nation far beyond where most citizens would want it.
The grants I have cited in previous speeches have been carefully chosen to show the questionable nature of many of the BBSS grants of the NSF. Last year two prominent grants which I emphasized border on the ludicrous. One was the $83,839 granted to the American Bar Association to study itself. I might understand why the ABA would want to analize the structure of the legal profession, but I fail to see why a group as financially solvent as the ABA should receive $83,839 of taxpayers' money. The results of such a finding will aid only lawyers who belong to the ABA and legal scholars many of whom are also ABA members. This was a clear case of public funds being used for the benefit of a narrow group. The other example from last year was the $88,830 for the study of homosexual couple formation. The study was going to take three years because of the “sensitivity of the topic.” I find it outrageous that anyone would find it good public policy to allocate funds to “illuminate principles of human behavior that have so far escaped social scientists” in regards to homosexuals. Most people in this country still consider homosexuality a perversion or a disease and would object to any research that might aid in legimitizing such a thing. I consider such an expenditure of public money unwise at best. The scientific community might consider such research imaginative and innovative, but the public, whose money the NSF uses, considers it just plain stupid. In the end this is what is important. The NSF is a public institution and is accountable to the public. It is intellectual arrogance to place any other mandate above those of the taxpayers of the nation the NSF is supposed to serve. It is no wonder that the NSF recently gave $350,000 to the National Academy of Sciences to study "the value, significance and social utility of basic research in the social sciences" since many people are now questioning the use of public funds for the ABA, and to study homosexuals.
THE QUESTION OF INFLUENCE One of the main defenses used for the NSF grants is that the money expended is vital to the expansion of our basic store of knowledge. A crucial question to ask about this assertion is whether this expansion is balanced or whether it may be skewed to one set of philosophical principles over another. By this I mean that no matter how many reviews a given grant is subjected to or how detailed the criteria is for awarding a grant it is inevitable that at some point grantsmanship might provide one side of an issue access to more funds than another side of the issue. There does not need to be any intentional policy to create such a situation. It could be that only one philosophical school is interested in the study of a given issue at a given time. It could be that one school of thought is better at grantsmanship than another, or that there is not an opposing school of thought capable of competing for funds. In any case there exists the possibiilty that chance could play into the hands of one set of beliefs over another. If most of the research projects conducted by academicians were destined to gather dust in college bookshelves such a possibility would be trivial in nature. However, we have seen how scholarly works have been used to launch major new government policies or programs over recent years. It was a study on the learning abilities of schoolchildren that launched the nightmare of busing. It was a series of computer runs that helped launch an effort to eliminate the electoral college. If the academic deck is unbiased then all sides of an issue can compete in the electorate for a mandate. What happens if luck or some other factor stacks this deck? What happens if the NSF ends up funding a series of projects that build momentum for one set of public policy views over another?
This is a vital question for the future of government sponsored research in America. If the NSF doles out money without concern for ideological balance it will be objective but may stack the research deck. On the other hand, if the NSF consciously tries to balance research it could end up with a worse situation. What if there are two well known researchers who want funds to study the desirability of federal land use planning and are known to favor this approach from previous studies they have published. Assume further that no antifederal land use researchers are applying for NSF funds. Does the NSF grant funds to one of the researchers since their project has merit? Does the NSF wait until a comparable anti-land use study surfaces? Does the NSF go out and seek a suitable counter study? In all cases there is a disturbing vision of government controlling elements of thought in the nation. Anytime public funds are involved it is an act of public policy to disperse those funds. Objective handling of funds regardless of the possibility of skewing the academic debate is a public policy. Seeking a balance on a given issue is a public policy. Given the unpredictable nature of the course of human inquiry it is impossible or at least very difficult to anticipate where skewing might take place. To avoid the risk of the government inadvertently aiding one side of an argument many people, myself included, consider the best policy is for the government to not involve itself at all.
The BBSS grants of the NSF have moved increasingly into areas of controversial public policy. The grant to study couple formation among heterosexual and homosexual groups moves $88,830 of government money into the homosexual debate. No matter how objective this study might be there is still $88,830 of taxpayers money involved in the study of an issue where public policy, and public morality, is deeply involved. Other grants fall into this category. The University of Illinois-Urbana has received $91,198 to study “Changes in Family Structure in Western Nations" and Wellesley College has received $150,262 to study “Families and Communities : Helping Networks." In both cases federal funds are moving into the area of family issues that are some of the most controversial matters being discussed today. As we have seen with the White House Conference on the Family there is even violent disagreement over what is the definition of a family. To have $239,092 of taxpayers funds going into family research is to disregard the impact of those funds on the ongoing emotional debate. This is not esoteric research with funny names, this is material that might be part of Congressional hearings or floor debates a year or so from now. To provide such funds is a public policy act that should not be left to unelected review panels. Instead of opening the door for Congressionally mandated research grants we should avoid having funds going into such areas by phasing out social science funding all together.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my remarks on the subject of NSF social science grants. The issues of duplication and competition with privately initiated research, of possible waste of funds for unnecessary projects, and the crucial issue of subsidies for particular philosophical views are all sufficient evidence that there are deep problems with the government getting involved in this area of research in the first place. No matter how well-intentioned the NSF might be in providing grants I maintain that there are severe problems that will probably never be adequately addressed. I therefore will continue to oppose efforts to expand this troublesome program area.
Mr. Brown. We thank you very much, gentlemen, both of you. I regret we have to adjourn at this point. That's the way things are scheduled around here.
The subcommittee will stand adjourned.
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL FOR THE RECORD
Last year, NSTA was one of several
The Teacher is the Key:
James V. DeRose J. David Lockard Lester G. Paldy
Icriticism of its precollege program, the
National Science Foundation undertook to determine the state and needs of science, social studies, and mathematics education in this country. In order to acquire the information it sought, NSF awarded grants for three studies: (1) a survey of school administrators, supervisors, and teachers, conducted by the Center for Educational Research and Evaluation of the Research Triangle Institute, North Carolina, of which Iris Weiss was project director; (2) a literature search by Stanley L. Helgeson, Patricia E. Blosser, and Robert W. Howe of the ERIC Center for Science, Mathematics and En. vironmental Education at the Ohio State University; and (3) a number of in-depth case studies conducted in a variety of school systems, directed by Robert E. Stake and Jack A. Easley of the University of Illinois-Urbana. This report will
deal-briefly--with the findings of the curriculum improvement projects prethree studies (published in 1978) which sented science content compatible with are of particular interest and importance the practicing scientists' view of science to those teaching science whether as a which required a nontraditional teaching separate discipline in junior or senior approach characterized by openness, flexhigh school, or as part of the curriculum in ibility, inquiry, and student involvement a self-contained elementary school class- in more than just reading about science room--and to science educators respon- and watching demonstrations. sible for the education of these teachers. It is encouraging to report that the
The studies bring into focus current study found that there is more use of labopractices and conditions that affect sci- ratory and hands-on instruction than was ence teaching. The findings are extensive the case before the NSF curricula were deand documented. Although most science veloped and implemented. The NSF teachers will find little of which they are teacher institutes have also had an imnot already aware, the studies do serve ef- pact: 73 percent of the teachers who had fectively to establish those local condi- attended one or more of the institutes artions, practices, and trends which are ranged for their students to have handsgenerally characteristic of schools
on experiences at least once a week, as nationwide. As a consequence, it will be contrasted with 42 percent of the teachers easier for teachers and administrators to who had not attended institutes. There isolate those problems which, being lo- has also been an increase in the use of cally derived, may be solved effectively by student-centered classroom activities as a local initiatives, from those problems
result of the institute program. which stem from larger societal,
Despite the influence of the NSFeconomic, and political conditions, and sponsored curricula and institutes, howare therefore much more difficult to solve ever, classroom observers reported that at by independent local efforts.
all grade levels the predominant method
of teaching was recitation (discussion), I. How do teachers teach?
with the teacher in control, supplementWhat is taught and how it is taught are ing the lesson with new information (lectwo questions with very interrelated an- turing). The key to the information and swers. The major activities in science cur- the basis for reading assignments was the riculum development in the 1955-75 textbook. period were funded by the National Sci- Most questions were observed to be ence Foundation. The NSF-sponsored concerned with definitions and the ac
quisition of information, and were
mostly taken from the textbook.
thought, inquiry, and open discourse
took place were noted but not fre-
assume the role of a fellow learner.
James V. De Rose is a former head of the science department of the MarpleNewtown Schools, Newtown Square, PA 19073.1. David Lockard is professor of botany and science education at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740, Lester G. Paldy is associate professor of technology and society, as well as dean of continuing education, at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY 11790.
Reprinted from The Science Teacher, Volume 46, Number 4, April 1979
The next most frequently observed teachers and teacher committees. Princi- subjects throughout the student's high activity was the demonstration, con- pals and supervisors are sometimes in- school experience. Curriculum efforts ducted in two out of five classes once a volved in text selection, but the survey involving teachers from several science week or more. The number of classes indicates that parents, students, and disciplines are rare in American high using hands-on experiences once a week school board members have little to say schools, although larger schools often or more increases from one-in-three in in this process even though the text have special elective courses in fields elementary schools to three-in-tour in often defines a complete curriculum. De- such as oceanography, environmental senior high schools
spite the attention given in the media to science, and earth science In many Student reports and projects are used few isolated instances, texts do not schools, these courses are designed to once a month or more in half of the often generate controversies.
motivate students who would not ordiclasses. Other teaching techniques such Some states have text-adoption pro- narily continue their study of science as field trips, guest speakers, simula- cedures which require books purchased beyond 10th-grade biology, and thus tions, contracts, programmed instruc- with state funds to be selected from an represent commendable efforts to break tion, and similar programs are used once approved statewide list, but schools in away from more traditional pattems a month or more in less than 10 percent
these states often broaden their choices which have not succeeded in reaching of the classes and are never used in 50 by using local funds when available. The many students. percent of the science classes sur- texts themselves frequently reflect the One of the major impressions conveyed-with the exception of field trips, influence of the curriculum projects de- veyed by the survey is that teachers of which are never used in 31 percent of veloped with the support of the National science courses for college-bound stuthe classes. Time spent in various in- Science Foundation during the 1960s, dents have succeeded in preserving the structional arrangements does not differ and this must surely be regarded as a elite characteristics of these courses for significantly for the various grade levels: significant residue of those efforts. Even the small student populations that they Approximately half of the time the entire though the choice of text is usually serve. Many schools have tracking sysclass is arranged as a group, one-sixth of theirs alone, many teachers criticize the tems which have created alternative the time it is divided into small groups, text they are using as having too difficult courses with less demanding requireand about one-third of the time students a reading level for many students. ments for students who are either not work individually.
Inquiry and Laboratory Methods. Sur- capable or are insufficiently motivated to In all of the schools surveyed, the na- vey data suggest that the domination of deal with the material presented in trational trend to make curricula more the curriculum by the textbook tends to ditional biology, chemistry, and physics. explícit and leaming more measurable discourage use of inquiry techniques Use of Community Resources. Comwas evident. Schools had prepared or which require students to do more than munity or other out-of-school curadopted statements of objectives and
look up information in the text and then riculum resources are rarely used by scihad developed criterion test items with
recite or record it. In addition to reading ence classes. The Case Studies, in par. which to determine student accom- and recitation, teachers report that ticular, make abundantly clear that most plishment of objectives. In general, workbook exercises provide much of schools (and science programs) are insuteachers and administrators reacted fa- whatever activity exists in typical
lar and removed from the mainstream of vorably to the manageability and clarity
classrooms. Even when teachers seek to community activity. For example, when of the objectives-based system, but no use laboratory investigation and inquiry the schools of Columbus, Ohio, were evidence had been gathered by the techniques, barriers such as inadequate forced to close during the winter of 1977 schools surveyed to indicate that
time-blocks in the schedule, shared because of a fuel shortage, community achievement levels of students had in- classrooms, and inadequate facilities resources were used only in a percreased as a result,
and supplies tend to foster more pas. functory way to continue the education
sive, text-oriented approaches. While of children, primarily because of inadeII. What do teachers teach?
many teachers report that inadequate quate planning and a lack of experience What do these reports tell us about the
funding makes laboratory activity dif- in coping with the inevitable difficulties science curriculum? Few, if any, surficult, the surveys indicate that lack of
encountered in developing a curriculum prises emerge. In senior high schools,
student motivation and the demanding organized around unfamiliar resources. year-long biology, chemistry, and nature of inquiry teaching may be
The Learning Environment. The report physics courses still comprise the major equally significant. Additional funds
suggests that science classrooms in part of the curriculum. Most states still might ease some problems, but there is
many schools do not provide stimulating require only one year of high school sci- little evidence presented here that funds
surroundings. Of course, many inalone would be sufficient to create more ence, and do not require any specific
dividual teachers have made valiant efvital programs, at least not in the
forts to deal with problems caused by The Dominant Textbook. The secondamounts likely to be made available.
inappropriate texts, poorly prepared and ary school science curriculum is ordinar- Curriculum Priorities. Even as scien- motivated students, lackluster adminisily organized with a textbook as its core; tific literacy programs for the majority of trations, and the like. Nevertheless, the more than half the science teachers sam- students essentially end after the 10th- broad picture that emerges of the napled in the survey reported that they grade biology experience, science itself tion's secondary science curriculum is used a single text, with approximately is given relatively low priority within
not encouraging, particularly when one one-third indicating that more than one most secondary schools in comparison to considers the large number of students text was required for their courses. Texts English and social studies, in which who do not continue in science beyond are usually selected by individual specific courses are usually required the 10th grade.