Tuesday, Oct 19, 1993
Washington D.C. -- October 19, 1993 --A new approach to support science education was introduced today by Genentech, Inc., in an effort to enable high school biology teachers across the country to access their peers as well as experts. The program, called Access Excellence, represents a $10 million commitment to create a nationwide communications network designed to break through what 92 percent of teachers in a new survey describe as an "isolation barrier." In the survey of more than 500 biology teachers conducted by the Roper Organization, teachers cite the boundaries of the classroom, time demands, and restricted budgets as serious impediments to improving and updating their biology lesson plans.
"Not having adequate opportunity to discuss new developments in science and how best to integrate that information into your lesson plans is just one example of how isolation in the classroom works against the teaching process in this country," according to VivianLee Ward, named "Outstanding Biology Teacher of 1992" for the state of California by the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT). "Budgets have become so restricted in many school districts that simple tools of communication, such as attendance at professional meetings and subscriptions to professional literature, aren't options," explains Ms. Ward.
Access Excellence offers biology/life sciences teachers a nationwide interactive computer network (America Online) to not only communicate with other teachers, but to gain access to what previously were seemingly remote resources at universities and educational organizations throughout the country. An information clearinghouse and support center located at Genentech's South San Francisco headquarters will serve as the communications hub for the program. The center will be staffed by specially trained professionals, as well as volunteer Genentech scientists.
Each year on behalf of Access Excellence, 100 biology teachers will be selected by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) to become the core participants in the computer network. They will be selected based on their demonstrated capabilities and interest level in advancing the state-of-the-art of secondary school biology education. Once selected, they will receive special training on the computer network, a free personal laptop computer, and attend an annual biology education summit. In addition, a quarterly publication that features the best ideas from teachers participating in the national computer network will be distributed free to the more than 50,000 biology teachers in the United States.
"The private sector has a responsibility to support science education in America if we are to maintain the unparalleled scientific strength that brought this country to its leadership position in biomedical research over the past decades," explains G. Kirk Raab, president and CEO of Genentech. "This program reflects our commitment to that goal by facilitating what is one of Genentech's highest priorities scientific excellence."
Dr. Richard Nicholson, chairman of the Access Excellence advisory board, and Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), emphasized at today's press conference that "If programs are to serve the needs of today's secondary educational system they must address the needs of individual classroom teachers. These needs are best identified by the teachers themselves." Dr. Nicholson described this project as "a case study of how to seek proactively the guidance of grassroots teachers to develop a support system that will be both needed and utilized in classrooms across America."
The Access Excellence program is a three-year project funded solely by Genentech, but developed with the assistance of many leading national scientific and educational organizations.
Genentech, Inc. is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and markets human pharmaceuticals for significant medical needs. The company has headquarters in South San Francisco, California, and is traded on the New York and Pacific Stock Exchanges under the symbol GNE.
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