able with the content and approaches to teaching the subjects in these disciplines to be able to help or encourage their children.
Unlike the facilities and resources that are routinely provided to people in other professions, the facilities and equipment provided to teachers in schools are often dilapidated or out-dated (Lewis et al., 2000). Many science laboratories may not conform to current codes for safety, and most were not built to facilitate teaching and learning of science as articulated in national standards (Biehle et al., 1999). Science equipment may be obsolete or in need of routine repair or calibration. There is little technical support to maintain equipment or resolve technical problems that teachers or students encounter. In those cases where concerted efforts have been made to outfit schools with modern equipment (e.g., desktop computers connected to the Internet), teachers may not receive the preservice preparation or ongoing professional training needed to use this equipment in ways that truly enhance student learning and achievement (Knuth et al., 1996; Valdez et al. 1999; Downes, 2000).
As a result of these conditions, many teachers are becoming both disenchanted with and disenfranchised from their profession. For example, a recent survey by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has concluded that nearly 40 percent of science teachers in the United States are considering leaving their jobs. The primary reason cited was job dissatisfaction stemming largely from low pay and lack of support from principals (Education Week, 2000). A report from the Texas State Teachers Association reported similar levels of dissatisfaction among teachers in that state (Henderson, 2000).
These conditions also may be influencing the career choices of young people. In 1999, a survey of 501 college-bound high-school students from Montgomery County, MD, public schools indicated that a majority of these students was reluctant even to consider teaching as a career option. Reporting out the results from the survey, Hart Research Associates (1999)8 stated that 39 percent of the students in the survey had no interest in becoming teachers in public schools, with another 16 percent expressing little interest. Participants in two focus groups also reported out by Hart Research Associates (one of boys, one of girls) concentrated their remarks on the poor image of teachers and the public’s general lack of respect for the
Additional information about the methods and results of this survey is available at <http://www.mff.org/newsroom>.