A letter to families from Marine Science teacher, Mr Stever

Hi Everyone,

I know that some of you have heard, but probably not all.  There will be no Marine Science offered next year.  I felt I needed to let everyone know so that if students, staff and parents wondered why, it can be communicated accurately and there isn’t speculation.  I also wanted to get some closure because it does break my heart.  The class has been a long standing tradition at Garfield for over 40 years.  I am a product of it when Craig MacGowan ran the class and inspired me and thousands of students to pursue environmental careers and changed our lives.  Spang continued to carry the torch and touched more lives for over 25 years.  I have taught marine for 25 years, 23 at Garfield, mostly with Spang.  We ran trips, gave students experiences outside of the classroom and continued the spirit that MacGowan started.

So what happened?  It comes down to student sign-ups.  Only 14 students signed up.  I think it is a combination of our changed science pathway and the high stakes test Junior year.  This doesn’t allow for bright 9th graders to take the class, they have to follow the pathway.  There is less time to take elective science classes and many science choices.   The new Astronomy course also reduced potential marine numbers for the 2019 -20 school year.  In addition to this, Marine Science has a reputation of being a challenging course scaring away some students, but it is not a college credit/AP course so others pass on the option.  It’s kind of the perfect storm.  Our environment is at a breaking point and understanding our ocean and it’s impact on climate and the diversity of life is more critical than ever.  This was also the only science class that did field science, another loss.  It’s sad when the educational climate makes it so no one is willing to take their students out of the classroom.  I have had the pleasure of sharing my passion for the ocean with students for 25 years and Spang has done it even longer!  I couldn’t just let the class go away without saying something.  I hope in the future we are able to bring the class back but everything is uncertain.  I am excited about teaching AP Biology with Dr. Austin and continuing with Honors Biology next year.  But it is with a heavy heart, I say goodbye to Marine Science (for now).  I hope everyone has a good summer and are able to re-charge their batteries.  Take care, see you next year.

Jonathan Stever