Daily News of Los Angeles (CA)

November 28, 2001
Section: News
Edition: Valley

Page: N5


Mariel Garza
Staff Writer

NORTHRIDGE - California State University, Northridge, has received $800,000 to train science instructors in the San Fernando Valley's lowest- performing schools to become better teachers, officials said Tuesday.

The three-year grant from the California State Post Secondary Education Commission will fund a year-round program, beginning Saturday, that will bring teachers to CSUN for seminars and hands-on laboratory work. It will also help the teachers buy science supplies.

Mentors and professors will then follow the teachers back to their classrooms to help set up science curriculum that meets the new state science standards, officials said.

Steve Oppenheimer, a professor of biology at CSUN and the head coordinator of the program, said the funding couldn't come at a better time - last week national science exam scores ranked California's fourth- and eight-graders as dead last among peers nationwide.

``Our science achievement in some cases is equivalent to Third World countries. I mean, it is a crisis,'' Oppenheimer said. ``If the U.S. doesn't put much, much more emphasis on upgrading science training, we really have a national security problem, and the future and health and welfare and security of the country are really in jeopardy.''

Previously, CSUN has offered smaller versions of the program during the summer.

But the summer-only programs aren't able to offer as much classroom assistance and aren't as successful, Oppenheimer said.

``We'll be with teachers right in the classrooms and working with students on a year-round basis,'' he said. ``This kind of program will lead to much more classroom implementation of our project lessons because we're right there from day to day.''

Tony Recalde, Reseda High School's science magnet coordinator and one of the co-directors of the CSUN science program, said this is a win-win program for the Los Angeles Unified School District.


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