well-prepared technology teachers, and culturally appropriate science programs. Civil rights groups may lobby state legislators for changes in education funding to ensure that all children have access to high-quality teachers and learning opportunities.

Education-related decisions of officeholders and other policy makers are also influenced by media that convey information and shape public perceptions. Widespread U.S. media coverage of Third International Mathematics and Science Study findings alerted the public and politicians to the fact that U.S. student test score results often compared unfavorably to those of nations regarded as economic competitors. Those messages played a role in spurring new actions intended to improve U.S. mathematics and science education, such as the work of the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century (2000). At the local level, news stories and editorials centering on the lack of textbooks and laboratory facilities in urban schools may heighten public awareness of inequities in the U.S. education system. Local media coverage of students’ achievement scores also informs and influences community views.

Outside Forces Affecting Components Within the Education System

In addition to exerting influence through the political system, some businesses, education and professional organizations, and others have acted to influence the education system directly. Major chemical, pharmaceutical, technology, and aerospace firms have invested in science education reform for many years—for example, some corporate officials work with educators to help school districts develop and implement local strategic plans to provide inquiry-centered science programs for all students (National Science Resources Center, 1999). Organizations supported by corporations have also intervened directly. For example, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. has worked to attract minorities to engineering and supported them in their schooling. National associations of science, mathematics, and technology

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