Mission: Scientifically literate students possess the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity.NJ DOE's 2009 Standards Revision Project
The state board of education believes that "a quality science education fosters a population that applies scientific knowledge, and skills to increase economic productivity." (The sentence is not grammatically stable--the comma is theirs, not mine. Committees love commas. )
At least it says as much in the Vision Statement for our proposed state curriculum standards.
I can understand the
Houston, we have a problem.
Let me toss out two premises for discussion:
1) Our economy is not a knowledge-based economy.
So long as we are mammals, our economy remains tied to the land. Getting filthy rich might require knowledge-based data-mining skills, but the overall economy still depends on Earth's blessings.
Food. Water. Fiber. Fuel.
Wheat, rice, corn, pork bellies, cotton, hemp, wool, alpacas, coal, sunlight, oil, wind.
I'd be the first to concede that growing wheat, raising sheep, digging a well, and harnessing wind all involve intricate knowledge, but I doubt that's what is meant by a "knowledge-based economy." A look at the particulars of the curriculum confirm this.
2) A "growing economy" based on exponential extraction of natural resources cannot last.
The United States agriculture depends on extraction--we put as many calories into farming as we get out of it. Our food is cheap because oil is still cheap. It is also finite.
Capitalism as currently practiced (Adam Smith wouldn't recognize it) depends on economic growth; economic growth depends on increasingly efficient methods of exploiting limited resources.
Exponential growth is unsustainable. Humans, like any other critter borrowing water and oxygen from this land, have a finite carrying capacity.
Acknowledging these premises does not make me a Marxist, but might mark me as a science teacher. It puts a dent in my ability to foist the state's agenda on my kids.
If nothing else, could someone in Trenton be kind enough to fix the grammar?