What Happened to CSTA? And what is CASE?
A few weeks ago I got an email from my very favorite professional organization saying there was “Big News!” The announcement was that CSTA, the California Science Teachers Association, was changing its name to CASE, the California Association of Science Educators. There was a flashy new logo with the outline of California and a wave thingy. There was also a new mission statement: CASE leads the promotion of high-quality, equitable science education through advocacy, collaboration, and communication. Recognizing that science has a profound influence on our lives, our local environments, and our world, CASE fosters a community focused on enhancing scientific and environmental literacy and agency for all.
Time to get to the bottom of this!
Why change the name?
CSTA has been a professional home for many people other than only science teachers. Classroom teachers are still the majority of members, but we also include people who teach science in museums, zoos, aquariums, and natural outdoor places. We have members who teach science online. Many members teach other teachers how to teach science and get better at their craft. These people work in colleges, universities, non-profits, districts and counties, and private companies. Our members design curriculum and research science teaching. We teach science from pre-k all the way through lifelong learners. We all teach science, but the name “teacher” just didn’t describe the full diversity of our community. The Board of Directors began this discussion several years ago. How can our name be more inclusive and celebrate the diversity of what we all do for the love of science education? We are Californians, we are science educators, and we are a strong association. CASE seemed like the right name for the organization that we already were.
Why a new Mission?
Here was CSTA’s mission: To promote high quality science education.
It was short, simple, and got right to the point. It also doesn’t really say much about how we do this or why. It's a little bit like “Do good things!” Nice, but too vague to really be “A Mission!”
The new mission is: CASE leads the promotion of high-quality, equitable science education through advocacy, collaboration, and communication. Recognizing that science has a profound influence on our lives, our local environments, and our world, CASE fosters a community focused on enhancing scientific and environmental literacy and agency for all.
It tells us more about who we are and what we do. It makes the important point that high-quality science education is equitable. High-quality means high quality for everyone, not just the chosen few who are anointed, “good in science.”
The new mission tells us how we promote high quality, equitable science education. We do it through advocacy, collaboration, and communication, and by fostering a community. This is our conference, our social media, webinars, our e- newsletters, and our work with the legislature and State Board of Education.
Why care about science education? Because it has a profound influence on our lives, our local environments, and our world. It’s to help us and our students have scientific and environmental literacy and agency! Literacy isn’t enough. Understanding science doesn’t mean much if we don’t have agency, the ability to act to benefit ourselves, our communities, and our planet.
Finally, we are a community of educators in many different settings who are stronger when we work together to be better and stronger for our students and for ourselves.
What’s with the Logo?
A new name and a new mission need a new identity. Our new logo shows who we are and where we are from. It’s hard in a state as diverse as ours to pick out any one symbol that defines the state. A poppy? What about the redwoods or kelp beds? The ocean? What about the deserts or the mountains? The same is true of the symbols for science. Why is it ALWAYS an atom? What about astronomy, biology, physics, oceanography, geology, genetics, ecology, engineering, etc… (sorry if I missed your fave, but you get the picture). So we went with the subtle wave form. It’s the wind! it’s the oceans! it’s seismic waves from a devastating earthquake! It’s physics! It’s light from a faraway galaxy! It’s a photon emitted when an electron transitions to a lower energy state! It’s whatever you want it to be!
The new name and logo is an exemplar of what science is, an evolution in understanding, a symbol of progress and growth in knowledge, work and community. At CASE, we are excited to welcome all of the world that touches and promotes high-quality science education and we look forward to building upon the foundations of the past and look to the future of fostering our community and creating a movement towards meeting our mission.