Newton Tab: Results Put Focus on Math and Science

 

By Chrissie Long/Staff Writer
Posted Nov 28, 2007 @ 12:00 AM
Last update Dec 03, 2007 @ 12:28 PM

For more than three years, Geoff Epstein’s efforts to win a seat on the School Committee were always focused on one key issue: rethinking the way math and science are taught in Newton schools.

Those efforts paid off earlier this month when he became the first candidate to unseat an incumbent member of the School Committee since 1993.

But whether or not Epstein’s win over incumbent Gail Glick represents a mandate is subject to debate. Also open to interpretation is the question of just how well Newton schools are doing in the areas of math, science and technology.

Frustrated with the lack of funding in high school programs, upset that their children aren’t being challenged in elementary math, and concerned by what their children will face in the global economy, many Newton parents interviewed for this article said they want the city to do better in these areas and see Epstein’s election as a positive first step.

But School Department officials point to the city’s record of success in math and science education. They note that Newton’s high school juniors boast some of the best math SAT scores in the state and that the first high school science assessment that counted toward graduation had a 96 percent passing rate. And, they add, the School Department was already undertaking new initiatives to continue improving in these areas.

That’s not enough, says Epstein, who will only be satisfied when neighboring communities begin to point to Newton and say, that’s where you should go for math and science. And even being the best in the state, he argues, may not be enough to help the next generation compete in a global economy.

“We need to graduate more people who want to do math [and science],” he said. “If everyone runs around and says the schools are great and not change anything, then the United States will slowly die away in leading the world in technology. Ultimately, it’s a national problem, but what we can do is think locally and act locally.”

 

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