1/08/2008

LACKING CHEMISTRY

OK, this one is going to blow some of y'all's minds.

As you may know, I'm a science teacher. In fact, this year I'm teaching Chemistry. Chemistry, which is a standards-based science course. Chemistry, which is mandated by the State of Kali-forn-ya. Chemistry, which satisfies the University of California's laboratory science requirement (not all science courses do). Chemistry, which you pretty much have to take and do better than average in to get admitted to a UC-type school.

Guess what my school district bureaucrats authorized over the Christmas break? No, guess, really. What do you suppose that they could do that could possibly hurt Chemistry the MOST?

Give up?

How about confiscate ALL of the chemicals in our stockrooms, $40,000 worth, without so much as an explanation? I'm not making this up, mind. We had previously been assured that an OSHA-type review would not take place until after a formal inventory, but what actually happened at our site and throughout the district was wholesale raping of science supplies, including stock that was essentially brand new. The whole business is completely nonsensical: how can you do Chemistry with no chemicals?

And, while we're on the subject, how can they expect that we science teachers are going to stand by and not raise an unholy clamor of protest? Hoping that calmer heads prevail, we intend to submit a list of the confiscated items that need to be returned or replaced in order for us to do the labs already planned. If that doesn't happen...well.....let's just say that some of us will be contacting the University of California, the state Department of Education and WASC. We can't pretend that a Chemistry course without labs satisfies their requirements, and we are pretty much obligated as professionals to make sure that agencies involved with accreditation are apprised of that fact. And students. And parents. And the media.

Again, let's hope that the district fixes its mistake, so that cooler heads may prevail.

2 comments:

Ms. SuperScience said...

What the....
If it were my classroom, there'd be a four letter word following that.

Who? Why? This is crazy. I can sympathize though - I'm a HS biology teacher and we had something similar happen. A few summers ago the safety police (actually a guy from central maintenance who's in charge of safety for the district - he's actually a handyman by trade) came through and confiscated anything that was thought to be in formaldehyde. All of our jarred specimens were gone. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that in September... never mind that a lot of the specimens were not actually in formaldehyde and were brand new!

So you have my sympathies.

The Lorax said...

I empathize with your blight. Sadly, in order to be "safe" we need to exclude all possibility of risk. While I despise the administrations handling of the issue, I put some of the blame squarely on the government and their somewhat arbitrary regulations. As a college professor I spend large chunks of time filling out forms to continue conducting the experiments I have always done, then some committee decides they need to improve these experiments thus requiring me to submit more forms, which are approved for maybe a year or two and then the process repeats (sadly, this is not a year reprieve because there are so many committees and forms and areas of regulation, there are always forms to fill out). At the end of the day the committee can say they have fulfilled their duty to some government requirement.

These university offices should be helping to make sure researchers are compliant with federal requirements, what I find is that they are more interested in making you jump through hoops and less about compliance. I expect your administrators are playing a similar role as these committees. Good luck