Amid troubling national and state trends concerning the aptitude of high school science and math students, former Carbon County Commissioner and local educator William Krompel approached the Carbon school board to push for what he calls a "re-invigoration" of the local science curriculum.
"I have been hearing disturbing reports concerning physics and chemistry both at the state level and within our local high school," said Krompel, who taught math and science for over 30 years in the area. "While these problems are being noticed at the community college level, I believe the responsibility for Carbon students should lie with our district educators. I believe we need to prepare our students well, because if they are not prepared, there is no way they will be able to compete."
The state wide issue to which Krompel alluded came from KSL 5 correspondent Nadine Wimmer, who reported in late March that Utah Valley University had recently doubled their faculty for remedial math.
At Salt Lake Community College, 28 percent of the student body takes remedial math and Westminster College is considering a pre-algebra course due to student performance. These trends show a definite issue with student preparedness, according to Krompel.
"I was shocked to see remedial classes increasing across the state," said the former commissioner. "And it started me looking into our local situation, what I found was troubling. We seem to have lost passion where this area of learning is concerned. Therefore, I approached our district leaders and asked them to implement policies that would reinvigorate both our program and the way local students look at science and math."
Krompel's recommendations included looking at new teachers within the science and math fields. Insuring that instructor are not only qualified to teach the curriculum, but have a passion toward conveying the material.
"I think the district hit the jackpot when they hired Jim Thompson 30 years ago," explained the former teacher. "His passion toward English and Literature are evident in the performance of his students, it is that type of dedication that will have lasting results with our local youth."
"He hit a home run as far as I'm concerned," said board member Wayne Woodward. "This is definitely an issue we need to address."
The effect of less than adequate math skills on those entering college is profound, according to the KSL report. For instance; time spent in even one remedial math class will mean extra tuition, more time before graduation, extra tax payer subsidy and a lagging global economy. The United States currently ranks 31st where math is concerned among 56 industrialized nations.
"While the bigger picture seems frightening, what I am concerned with is the loss of opportunities on the local front," explained Krompel. "We are the largest coal producing county in the state and the second largest producer of natural gas, these industries have a myriad of wonderful opportunities for those who have an interest in science and math."