Serpa Introduces Scientific Achievement Resoution
The funding would provide 21st century training to teachers.
Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) is requesting that $500,000 in state funding go toward a private/public partnership with the JASON Project, a nonprofit organization founded by University of Rhode Island Professor Robert D. Ballard designed to help teachers develop their 21st century skills while promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the classroom.
“During these challenging fiscal times, schools are looking for new ways to fund exciting and challenging programs,” said Representative Serpa. “These programs are expensive because they require new technology and teacher training. Districts simply do not have the money to invest, and yet they are expected to raise achievement levels of students. This bill could change that.”
The resolution (2012-H 7451) asks for state funding – which would be matched by $1.5 million in private support – to expand the program into West Warwick and other communities that serve large groups of low- and moderate-income families. The state net contribution would total about $50 per student – a cost which Representative Serpa considers a small investment when one considers what students gain in knowledge and practical skills. The JASON Project also works in collaboration with URI, National Geographic Society, Sea Research Foundation, Mystic Aquarium, Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, and Boys and Girls Clubs throughout Rhode Island.
Science, technology, engineering and math – known in the education world as the STEM subjects – have been identified as areas in which all schools need to improve. The goal of the project is to reach as many as 75 educators and 10,000 students within the first year of the program.
“This program introduces curricula aligned to state, national and international standards and assessments for students in kindergarten through Grade 12, so this isn’t designed to be an added luxury,” Representative Serpa said. “The JASON Project embeds cutting-edge research, the latest news in the scientific world, interactive methods, social media, videos and hands-on experiments that make it easier for students to gain better critical thinking skills and get a firm grasp of the world around us.”
Under the joint resolution, the state portion of the funding would be used as follows:
· Certification of “lead teachers,” including stipends for involvement: $35,000;
· Grants to schools and organizations for program implementation: $185,000;
· Training for educators and youth workers: $50,000;
· Curriculum for schools and after-school programs: $80,000;
· Scientist mentoring via URI Inner Space Center: $150,000.
Ballard, a world-renowned deep-sea explorer mostly recognized for his discovery of the sunken R.M.S. Titanic, started the JASON Project in 1989. The nonprofit organization serves approximately 1,000 students and teachers across the state with its afterschool initiative known as “Immersion Learning,” but also has programs in all 50 states. It assists teachers in their goal to engage and motivate students, integrate technology into lesson plans and more effectively manage their classrooms in a learning culture that is continually becoming more fast-paced.
Representative Serpa said she was excited to see so much support for the bill during its House Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, April 25, and she hopes her colleagues mirror that enthusiasm for improving education in Rhode Island. Co-sponsoring this resolution are Representatives Michael A. Tarro (D-Dist. 8, Providence), Agostinho F. Silva (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls), Samuel A. Azzinaro (D-Dist. 37, Westerly) and Peter J. Petrarca (D-Dist. 44, Lincoln, Johnston, Smithfield).