Glenn T. Seaborg is an eminent scientist - so eminent that he's the only living person with an element named after him. But the state of California won't let him help write science standards for its public schools. His problem? Taking the idea of standards too seriously.
Seaborg, 85, is what more trendy educators today would call an elitist. That is, he thinks schools should teach the difficult principles of science even if all students may not grasp them. He's worried that if schools try too hard to make hard subjects fun, they'll cheat the students out of essential knowledge.
He and two other Nobel laureates have joined with more than 30 other scientists and teachers to fight for rigorous goals in teaching science in California public schools. They've been treated with less than respect.
The state board set up to adopt science standards turned down their offer to write standards for free. The job went to a group made up mostly of teachers and education professors, at a cost of $178,000.
And one member of the state panel, Judy Codding, added insult to injury. "They wouldn't know a classroom if you put it in front of them," the Los Angeles Times quoted her as saying.
In fact, Seaborg and his colleagues, who call themselves, Associated Scientists, know plenty about classrooms and what make them work. Seaborg, a 1951 Nobel laureate in chemistry and still active in research, co-headed the panel that wrote the famous 1983 report A Nation at Risk about the decline of the nation's schools.