States are part of a national education system. Schools are also components of a local community that can include colleges and universities, nature centers, parks and museums, businesses, laboratories, community. organizations, and various media.

The primary function of the science education system is to supply society with scientifically literate citizens. Information and resources (typically financial) energize the system. The nature of the information, the magnitude of resources, and the paths along which they flow are directed by policies that are contained in instruments such as legislation, judicial rulings, and budgets.

"Systems can be represented in a variety of ways, depending on the purpose and the information to be conveyed. For example, Figure 8.1 depicts the overlap among three systems that influence the practice of science education. This type of representation is a reminder that actions taken in one system have implications not only for science education but for other systems as well.

Coordination of action among the systems can serve as a powerful force for change. But if actions are at cross purposes, their effects can be negated and create waste and conflict. The overlap in Figure 8.1 illustrates that the

Figure 8-1.

The overlap of three systems that influence science education.

day-to-day activities of science classrooms are influenced directly and indirectly by many organizations which are themselves systems. Government agencies, national organizations and societies, and private sector special-interest groups at the local, regional, state, and national levels are three among many. Each organization has an executive officer and governing body that ultimately are responsible for the organization's

State education agencies generally have more direct influence on science classroom activities than federal agencies.

activities and influence on science education.

A brief discussion of one aspect of one organization—government—contributes to the understanding of science education as a system. The power of government organizations to influence classroom science derives from two sources: (1) constitutional, legislative, or judicial authority and (2) political and economic action. Because education is not specifically mentioned as a federal power in the U.S. Constitution, authority for education resides in states or localities. Federal dollars may be targeted for specific uses, but because the dollars flow through state agencies to local districts, their use is subject to modification to meet state objectives. State education agencies generally have more direct influence on science classroom activities than federal agencies.

We can also consider the science education system as a network to facilitate thinking about the system's many interacting components.



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