FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2001

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NEWS

ILLINOIS JOINS NATIONAL SCIENCE TEACHER INITIATIVE

Partnership with National Science Teachers Association and ExxonMobil
to Support Illinois Science Teachers

Illinois today joined the Building a Presence for Science network established by the National Science Teachers Association to link educators to a nationwide science learning community and to provide increased professional development for science teachers.

A proposal from the Illinois State Board of Education was accepted by the NSTA in Phase Two of this science educator outreach initiative funded by the ExxonMobil Foundation. State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee accepted a $243,000 check from the ExxonMobil Foundation to help support Illinois’ participation in the initiative. The state will match the award through the use of State Board staff and the expert assistance of exemplary science teachers throughout the state.

The Building a Presence for Science network will support the state’s current science teachers and help them become more effective with inquiry-based science.

“Research shows a great need to strengthen science teaching to prepare our students for the rapidly changing scientific and technological challenges they will face,” McGee said. “This Building a Presence for Science partnership will enable us to reach every science teacher in the state with resources to support their classroom activities.”

McGee said the recently released Glenn Commission report (Before It’s Too Late, A Report to the Nation from the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century) called for quick action to improve science teaching and the Building a Presence project will help the state put in place many of the strategies recommended in that report. In addition, he said project activities will help to address the projected teacher shortage in the state.

The Building a Presence plan calls for the identification of 210 Key Leaders throughout the state who will establish a network of approximately 5,250 Points of Contact for Science in every public and private school in the state. Key Leaders will participate in professional development sessions that focus on the Illinois Learning Standards in Science, the state’s Professional Teaching Standards and National Science Education Standards. Key Leaders will then share their experiences with their Points of Contact.

Building a Presence for Science was started by the NSTA in 1996 to lessen isolation and increase professional development opportunities for science teachers. With Illinois, the program now includes 15 states and the District of Columbia. Eight more states are slated to join over the next two years. A national advisory council provides information about valuable education resources to network members once a month.

The National Science Teachers Association, founded in 1944, is the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

ExxonMobil Foundation has contributed more than $6 million to the Building a Presence for Science program. Since 1955, the ExxonMobil Foundation has provided more than $500 million in financial support to education organizations. The Foundation’s principal areas of interest in education are: K-12 science education; mathematics education with an emphasis on K-5; the restructuring of elementary and secondary education; reform of undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics education; and increasing opportunities for minorities.