COMET • Vol. 6, No. 27 – 18 October 2005


(1) California 2005 Special Election Information

Source: California Voter Foundation (CVF)

On Tuesday, November 8, 2005, millions of Californians will head to the polls to cast ballots in a special statewide election called by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Many voters will be participating in local elections at the same time. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Voters who aren’t sure they can make it to the polls should sign up for an absentee ballot to vote by mail.


Last Day to Register to Vote – October 24, 2005

Last Day to Request an Absentee Ballot – November 1, 2005

What’s On the Ballot?

The ballot this November consists of eight statewide propositions. Depending on where you live, you may also have local candidates or measures on your ballot. The California Voter Foundation’s (CVF’s) California Online Voter Guide includes information about all eight statewide measures; for information on local candidates and ballot issues CVF recommends SmartVoter (see below).

Below are the propositions that are on the ballot:

* Proposition 73: Parental Notification of Abortion

* Proposition 74: Public School Teacher Tenure

* Proposition 75: Union Dues for Political Purposes

* Proposition 76: State Spending and School Funding Limits

* Proposition 77: Redistricting

* Proposition 78: Discounts on Prescription Drugs

* Proposition 79: Discounts on Prescription Drugs

* Proposition 80: Electric Service Providers Regulation

[See  and for more information about these propositions (including arguments for and against each).]

Additional Web Resources

CVF recommends the following nonpartisan Web sites for additional 2005 special election information:

— Secretary of State’s Special Election web site ( and Official Voter Information Guide (

—  Easy Voter Guide:

— Around the Capitol’s Election Track featuring up-to-date campaign contribution data:

— SmartVoter (local election information):

— Rough & Tumble (compilation of news stories):


The following information is from the Smart Voter Web site (, produced by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund:

The Smart Voter site ( allows users to find their custom ballot and polling place by entering their street address and zip code. Users may access “home pages” of each participating candidate that include their biography, endorsements, top priorities if elected, and position papers. All candidates in the participating counties are invited to participate. Each page about a contest includes links to relevant news or analysis articles written by online local media organizations or other nonpartisan information.

(2) 2007 Mathematics Primary Adoption Publisher Briefing – Public Meeting Notice

Source: Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (Curriculum Commission)

Meeting Agenda

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon

Location: California Department of Education

1430 N Street, Room 1101 (Board Room)

Sacramento, CA 95814

I.  Welcome, Purpose of the Meeting and Review of the Agenda

– Dr. Norma Baker, Chair, Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission

II.  Introductions and Types of Program Submissions

– Dr. Thomas Adams, Executive Director, Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission

III.  Brief Overview – Mathematics Framework (2005)

– Dr. Charles Munger, Chair and Dr. Stan Metzenberg, Mathematics Subject Matter Committee, Curriculum Commission

IV.  Evaluation Criteria for K-8 Mathematics Adoption of Instructional Materials and Activity

– Commissioners Levine, Goldberg, Metzenberg, Munger, Wagoner, Mathematics Subject Matter Committee, Curriculum Commission

V.  Sampling Requirements/Options and Specialized Media

A.  Sampling Requirements/Options

– Susan Martimo, Administrator, Curriculum Frameworks

B.  Specialized Media

– Rod Brawley, Administrator, Clearinghouse for Specialized Media and Technology (CSMT)

VI.  Next Steps

– Suzanne Rios, Administrator and Mary Sprague, Consultant, CFIR Division

VII.  Questions and Answers

– Curriculum Commissioners and CFIR Administrators and Staff

For more information: 

California Department of Education, Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources (CFIR) Division, 1430 N Street, Sacramento, California 95814. Attn: Suzanne Rios, Administrator, (916) 319-0665,; or Mary Sprague, Consultant, (916) 319-0510,


(1) Rising Above The Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future

Source (overview): National Science Teachers Association (NSTA Express – 17 October 2005)
URL (NSTA Express):
URL (NAS Report):

Several months ago, two U.S. Senators asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to convene a blue ribbon panel of business leaders, scientists, and educators and report back to Congress with a response to this question: What are the top ten actions, in priority order, that federal policy makers could take to enhance the science and technology enterprise so that the United States can successfully compete, prosper, and be secure in the global community of the 21st Century? Lawmakers also asked for specific implementation strategies.

In the NAS report released last week, the number one action item on the panel’s list of recommendations was to improve K-12 science and mathematics education.

Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, which was reported nationwide by Associated Press and the subject of a New York Times op-ed by columnist Tom Friedman [see and], recommends a series of initiatives that include the following:

— Recruiting 10,000 students annually to become science and math teachers, thereby educating 10 million young minds, by awarding four-year merit-based scholarships to be paid back through a commitment to teach five years in K-12 schools. Teachers serving in hard-to-staff inner city and rural schools would receive an additional bonus. [Note: See and the report chapter beginning at for more details.]

— Strengthening the skills of 250,000 current teachers thru summer institute training programs, in master programs, and thru Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) training programs.

— Increasing the number of students in AP and IB math and science courses from 1.2 million to 4.5 million by 2010.

Other proposals include sustaining and strengthening the nation’s commitment to basic research and developing strategies to recruit and retain the brightest students from within the United States and abroad into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.

Norman Augustine, the retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin and chair of the panel that issued the report, is expected to testify October 20 before the U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee hearing on Science, Technology, and Global Economic Competitiveness. Read the report online at

(2)  GAO Releases Report on Status of STEM Education

Source: NCTM Legislative and Policy Update – 17 October 2004
[Note: To receive NCTM’s free Legislative and Policy Update, send an e-mail message to  Please include your e-mail address, name, grade you teach or teaching specialty, and state.] URL (GAO report):

This week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released “Higher Education: Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Programs and Related Trends,” a comprehensive report that examines programs designed to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at the postsecondary level. The report, requested by Representative David Dreier (R-Calif.), also examines the importance of K12 programs and teacher quality in “setting the stage” for higher education programs.

The GAO found that in FY04, thirteen agencies spent $2.8 billion on 207 programs to increase the number of undergraduates and graduates in the STEM fields or improve STEM-related education programs.  From the 1995-96 school year to the 2003-04 school year, the percentage of postsecondary students studying in STEM fields increased from 21 percent to 23 percent. During the same time period, the percentage of graduate students studying the STEM fields increased eight percent; however, the number of graduate students studying in non-STEM fields increased 30 percent.

STEM employment increased 23 percent for STEM fields between the 1995-96 and 2003-04 academic years compared to 17 percent in non-STEM fields.  However, there was no increase in the proportion of women working in the STEM fields. Also, the report found that graduating with a STEM degree does not ensure employment in a STEM field.  According to National Science Foundation (NSF) data, in 2004, 67 percent of individuals with science or engineering degrees were not employed in a related field.

In discussions with students and faculty at several higher education institutions, the GAO found that the following issues were important to increasing the number of students in the STEM pipeline:

—  K12 teacher quality,

— The number of math and science courses completed in high school, and

—  Mentors, particularly for women and minority students.

The report also discusses how the visa system, particularly the SEVIS system, impacts the number of international students studying in STEM areas in the United States.  The report found that the number of international students studying in the U.S. has remained relatively constant at one-third.  To become employed, many of these students need H-1B visas.  The GAO found that in 1999, there were 20,000 more applications for H-1B visas than the maximum quota allowed.  In 2002, only 79,000 H-1B visa applications were approved while the maximum quota was set at 195,000.

The GAO report recommends that before implementing changes or creating any new programs, “it is important to know the extent to which existing STEM education programs are appropriately targeted and making the best use of available federal resources.”

To download the highlights of the report visit To download the full report visit:

(3) “Revamping Will Lengthen Graduate Entrance Exam” by Tamar Lewin

Source: The New York Times – 18 October 2005

The Graduate Record Exam…will be revamped and lengthened as of next October in an effort to give graduate schools a more useful measure of students’ ability and to prevent cheating.

Although the test will still include sections on verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing, every section is being revised, and the test lengthened to about four hours, from two and a half hours. About 500,000 students…take the general G.R.E. each year. E.T.S., which administers the test, also offers subject-matter tests in such fields as biology, mathematics and physics, but those tests, taken by far fewer students, are not being changed.

To enhance security, every question on the new exams will be used only once, and the test will start at different times in different time zones, so students who have finished cannot pass on questions to those in different zones…

Security has been a big issue for E.T.S. since a 2002 incident in which an undetermined number of students in China, Taiwan and South Korea raised their G.R.E. verbal scores by logging on to Web sites in those countries and memorizing questions and answers posted by previous test takers. Later that year, two Columbia University undergraduates were arrested for using high-tech transmitters to send out test questions.

“Security has been a real concern,” said Susan Kaplan, director of the graduate program at Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. “E.T.S. is also planning to cut back on how often the test is administered. Right now, it’s given almost every day of the year, but so far, it sounds like it will be offered about 30 times a year.”

As of next year, the test will no longer be “computer adaptive,” with test-takers getting questions tailored to their performance on previous questions, so that each gets challenging questions that provide a clear picture of what they can do. Instead, every student taking the test on a particular day will get the same questions, and those questions will not be reused…

The quantitative reasoning section will grow from one 45-minute section to two 40-minute sections, with fewer geometry questions and more on interpreting tables and graphs. And the analytical writing measure, which had a 45-minute essay and a 30-minute essay, will now have two 30-minute essays.

E.T.S. began field-testing the new exams earlier this month…