Two Oswego deans contribute to national science roundtable

When the National Science Foundation gathered academic leaders at the top-producing colleges of math and science teachers last month, SUNY Oswego’s Linda Rae Markert and Sara Varhus were on their list.

Oswego’s deans of education and of arts and sciences, Markert and Varhus represented Oswego at the all-day roundtable discussion Oct. 24 in Washington, D.C. Twelve institutions were represented in all. While most were public comprehensives like Oswego, they ranged in size and mission from Michigan State University to the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

“The reason that this group came together was to think about the issues surrounding the dearth of math and science teachers nationally,” Markert said. “It was an honor to be invited and have a chance to give our input.”

The group discussed teacher recruitment strategies, assessing the quality of the faculty involved in teacher preparation, and strategies for strengthening field experiences, Varhus said. Markert made the presentation on field placement.

The group grappled with difficult issues. “Teaching itself is a career under siege,” Markert said. Varhus added that students pursuing math and science studies “have other options that are much more attractive” in terms of salary and work environment.

When it comes to field placement, Markert noted, “We’ve got the obligation to place our students in the schools, but the schools don’t have any obligation to take them.”

Markert and Varhus are awaiting follow-up action by the National Science Foundation. “I’m hoping that there’s going to be a next step,” Markert said. “I really see some opportunities for linking up with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Science Teachers Association.”

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(Posted: Nov 16, 2005)