Paper No. 0
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM
EARTH/ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE IN NORTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOLS
The NC State Board of Education approved a change in high school science graduation requirements on March 3, 1998, capping a ten-year effort by interested groups to enhance earth science education. The old requirement called for three units of science: biology, a physical science, and an elective. The new requirement changes the elective to an earth/environmental science course. North Carolina is thought to be the first state to require such a course. The graduation requirement is effective for entering freshman in 2000. The course helps to assure that every high school graduate will have an opportunity to gain knowledge about the importance of geology and minerals to our standard of living. The course will also help develop skills to deal with ever-increasing earth/environmental issues facing our state and nation. The Education and Industry Committee for Earth Science in NC, established in 1986 to coordinate and promote adoption of the new curriculum requirement, spearheaded the effort. The Committee includes business and industry representatives, university and secondary school teachers, and federal and state agency staff from the Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The Committee successfully lobbied the Board of Education for approval of the concept of required earth science education in high school. The effort involved thousands of hours of work and hundreds of dedicated people. Concerns voiced in opposition to the course requirement included: (1) resistance to change, (2) local control, and (3) lack of competent, certified teachers. The undeniable and persuasive fact was, however, that everyone needs to know more about the earth sciences. Other steps in the implementation process are: (1) design an appropriate earth/environmental science curriculum, and (2) prepare teachers with training seminars and classroom resources. These activities are underway. The process of bringing this concept to fulfillment will always be a work in progress. The bottom line is that North Carolina high school graduates will be better prepared to understand tomorrow's earth science challenges.