MIT to aid grades K-12
By Janice Yoo
MIT's strength in science and technology should be used to encourage young Americans to pursue math and science professions and foster technical literacy, according to Ronald M. Latanision, chair of the Council on Primary and Secondary Education.
At Wednesday's faculty meeting, the council made specific recommendations intended to increase MIT's role in improving math and science education in grades K-12.
Latanision said the council believes that the problems plaguing American education are deeply rooted and systemic. American educational problems are "rooted in America's cultural values, massive social and demographic changes and global economic trends," he said.
The council recommended that MIT gather a committee of university presidents and leaders of government, business and religious organizations to publicize the importance of math and science education. In particular, the council felt the media should be harnessed to bring the message of the importance of education to the American public.
The council also recommended that MIT initiate the creation of a nationwide network of summer institutes for teacher improvement, to be sponsored by schools, universities and businesses across the country.
Further, the council suggested that MIT faculty collaborate with school teachers on a long-term research program and curriculum development effort in K-12 math and science classes. MIT should form "regional and national electronic networks to link teachers and schools with one another, with colleges and universities and with other educational resources," said Latanision. The planned network is to be called "Project Archimedes" after the ancient Greek mathematician and inventor.
Finally, the council said an advisory committee should be created to assume primary responsibility for the execution of the council's recommendations, Latanision said.
Associate Provost for the Arts Ellen T. Harris expressed concern that only successful schools will have the resources to take advantage of MIT's programs, while schools with problems would be left out in the cold. Those schools which have the organization and resources to take advantage of MIT's help will most likely be those that are already "successful schools," she said. This situation will only exacerbate the overwhelming gap between more successful schools and those that are having trouble, Harris said.
Statistics on women
and minorities released
In other business, Institute Professor Emeritus Herman Feshbach '42 reported statistics on the number of female and underrepresented minority undergraduates, graduates and faculty, showing trends from 1970 onwards.
Feshbach disclosed statistics on the number of women, Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans who were awarded undergraduate degrees, masters' degrees, doctorates and post-doctorates, and who ultimately got jobs in the United States in the life sciences, physical sciences and engineering fields.
Currently, programs to encourage females and underrepresented minority professors are under-used, Feshbach said. Two initiatives designed to recruit female senior professors and one initiative to recruit an underrepresented minority professor are currently underway, Feshbach said.
Though there is money available to invite visiting female and minority professors to MIT, Provost Mark S. Wrighton said that he "has not been inundated with calls" from department heads wanting use this money. He stressed the need for all faculty to be active "talent scouts."
MacVicar death mourned
Chairman of the Corporation and former President Paul E. Gray '54 read a faculty resolution on the death of Professor Margaret L. A. MacVicar '65 and held a moment of silence. The resolution described MacVicar as "energetic, tenacious about her research and passionately devoted to improving education." The resolution also listed MacVicar's many lifetime achievements.
The faculty also approved a motion to abolish the May faculty meeting, during which degrees for that year are approved. Instead, a separate faculty committee will review all upcoming degrees and notify the faculty head and President Charles M. Vest if there are any exceptional cases that might require an examination and vote by the entire faculty.