Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education

Etscorn to keynote CESE Annual Meeting on June 24th, 2017

Dr. Etscorn at the Socorro March for Science

Dr. Etscorn giving the commencement speech at New Mexico Tech, May 2017.

CESE’s 20th annual meeting will be on June 24th, 1:30 pm at the UNM Anthropology department lecture hall. Our featured speaker is Dr. Frank Etscorn, the award-winning inventor of the nicotine patch. The critical discoveries that lead to the 1986 patent Transcutaneous Application of Nicotine were made while he was mentoring students as a Professor of Psychology at New Mexico Tech in Socorro. He will discuss a subject very near to our prime mission: Never Give Up on a Student. We think you will be entertained and enlightened by Dr. Etscorn. There will also be a brief business meeting and election of officers.

Saturday, June 24, 2017, 1:30 PM
"Never Give Up on a Student"
The UNM Anthropology Lecture Hall
FREE and open to the public
Directions: From Central and University, go north on University until you get to Las Lomas. Turn right, then right into the parking lot. The lecture will take place in the Anthropology buliding lecture hall, immediately south of the parking lot. Parking is free on Saturdays. We look forward to seeing you there.


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The May 2017 Beacon is HERE!!

CESE is pleased to announce the publication of the latest Beacon, for May 2017. It is the first Beacon done by new editor Becky Reiss. Here are some teasers from President Jessica McCord's introductory article.


The first article, A Vindication of the Criticism of New Mexico Public Education Department’s Teacher, Evaluation System, is an analysis by CESE of a December 2016 peer-reviewed publication that includes a coauthor who is the primary architect of the current teacher evaluation and school grading systems in use today in New Mexico. You will find that this paper’s conclusions do not support the use of the current NM teacher evaluation system.

The next article, How New Mexico’s Teacher Evaluation System Translates to the Classroom, is a personal account of one teacher’s experience with the evaluation system; a journey that will leave you with a better understanding of the effect these policies have on teachers. The results are evocative.

Then, we present one cartoon about NM graduation rates and the cut-off score that students need to achieve to graduate.. There is a long story behind this, but the cartoon has the answer to a question all New Mexicans interested in education should be asking about those graduation rates. Hint – look behind the curtain.

Finally, we are please to announce this year's keynote speaker for our June 24th Annual Meeting, Dr. Frank Etscorn. Dr. Etscorn is the award-winning inventor of the nicotine patch. The critical discoveries that lead to the 1986 patent Transcutaneous Application of Nicotine were made while he was mentoring students as a Professor of Psychology at New Mexico Tech in Socorro. He will discuss a subject very near to our prime mission: "Never Give Up on a Student."

You can catch up on all the CESE Beacons here. It's our 20th anniversary, see what we've been up to for the last couple of decades!

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CESE Board meets President’s Baby


The CESE Board was delighted to meet president Jessica McCord's new baby Ryleigh. Shown above at our February 22nd, 2017 regular board meeting are secretary Dave Thomas, vice-president Jesse Johnson, board members Kim Johnson, Lisa Durkin, treasurer Steve Brugge, Cindy Chapman, Ken Whiton, Becky Reiss, Terry Dunbar, and president Jessica McCord (with Ryleigh).

Thanks to Betty Ann Whiton for a marvelous Bread Pudding!


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Large Crowd hears Lawrence Krauss Speak

UNM's Maxwell Lecture Hall was filled to capacity for Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss's appearance at the CESE Annual Meeting on June 25th, 2016. It was a memorable event. Here follow some photos of the goings-on.

A 275+ crowd is ready to hear Dr. Krauss (front, hat).
Outgoing president Lisa Durkin addresses the crowd. The membership approved the new slate of officers for CESE: President: Jessica McCord; Vice-president/president elect: Jesse Johnson; Secretary: Dave Thomas; and Treasurer: Steve Brugge.
Dr. Krauss discussed several topics in physics and cosmology, including the Cosmic Microwave Background (shown), and the importance of the recent detection of the gravitational waves predicted by Einstein.
A lively question-and-answer period followed the talk.
Dr. Krauss signed dozens of books, and graciously obliged requests for photographs as well.
At a post-meeting gathering at Bruno's, outgoing secretary Marilyn Savitt-Kring (left) received a plaque of appreciation for her many years of service as CESE's secretary. The award was presented by Lisa Durkin; Mark Fraser is on the right.

Lawrence Krauss to speak at 1:30 PM Saturday, June 25th, for the CESE Annual Meeting!

LawrenceKraussMark your calendars for 1:30 PM on Saturday, June 25th. The keynote speaker for CESE's annual meeting, Lawrence Krauss, will be speaking on

Gravity Waves: a Journey to the Beginning of Time.

Location: Maxwell Museum of Anthropology Lecture Hall.

Time: 1:30 PM Saturday, June 25th, 2016.

Free and open to the public!









There will also be a short business meeting and election of CESE's proposed Slate of Officers for 2016-2017:

  • President: Jessica McCord
  • Vice-president: Jesse Johnson
  • Secretary: Dave Thomas
  • Treasurer: Steve Brugge
  • plus the board members-at-large
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New May 2016 Beacon is On-Line!

beacon-splashThat's right, there's another brand-new edition of the CESE Beacon!

The May 2016 Beacon (Vol. XIX, No. 1) is online.

Contents Preview: Editor’s Message – Kim Johnson. – Read a comparison of teaching before and after the No Child Left Behind Act from our president, Lisa Durkin – How did we do on the PARCC exam this year? Some more data to digest -- Toons by Thomas -- In Memoriam: Dr. Marshall Berman -- and Announcing the CESE Annual Meeting with a very special guest speaker, Dr. Lawrence Krauss, the Director of the Arizona State University “Origins Project”.



Teachers are educators, not saviors

Kudos to the Albuquerque Journal for printing CESE president Lisa Durkin's editorial on March 21st, 2016. Here follows Lisa's letter.

Lisa DurkinTeachers are educators, not saviors

By Lisa Durkin / President, Coalition For Excellence In Science Education
Monday, March 21st, 2016 at 12:02am

For decades society has looked to schools for social engineering.

Legislation from IDEA to NCLB requires schools to be the remedy for poverty, apathy and dysfunction. While it is true that a student cannot choose the milieu from which they are born, it is also true that the deficiencies a student arrives with on campus are out of a school’s control.

Teachers can educate any student. That is the profession they have been certified in, and every child can learn. But teachers will always do a poor job of parenting kids, erasing their troubles and bridging economic gaps.

The assumption is that educators are the reason for poor performance in and out of school. Perceptions about teacher incompetence are based on manufactured metrics that are rigged, since they require teachers to make up for insufficiencies born of social, economic and mental strife.

Teachers and administrators are expected to be saviors, and we are failing. Our failure suits a political narrative.

Policy makers, who use educational hot buttons and sound bites to gain election, pitch one reform after another, all of which are based on the assumption that teachers are the problem.

At what point will society realize that pounding schools with accountability measures will always fail as long as it rests on faulty assumptions?

The truth is, society needs to solve its own problems.

Schools can’t fix kids, fix families or fix the economy. Schools can only educate a healthy and willing population.

It is the product of society that educators serve. Schools are merely a reflection, not the creator of society.

Communities that fill schoolhouses with economically advantaged kids from stable homes have always performed better than those tormented by social and economic strife. Statistical analysis yields these results again and again.

No one has the solution to this age-old problem, but many slick programs claim they do. Billions of tax dollars slip down that rabbit hole every year.

Accountability needs to rest on the shoulders of an American population who find it easier to shirk their responsibilities onto the schools.

It’s far easier to blame educators, and expect them to meet impossible requirements, than to hold members of society accountable.

Do schools have areas of concern? Yes, some districts would most certainly fail if they were businesses. Although, it would be prudent to hold them accountable for only that which they have control over.

It’s hard to sift through rhetoric based on agenda-born conclusions. Statistical twisting and pseudo-analysis traps many folks into counterproductive presumptions.

Here is what we know: Schools have been under a constant state of reform since 1958. Results can be attributed to a myriad of factors other than the contribution of educators. It’s time for society to face the fact that they need to look to themselves for economic and social solutions, and leave schools to simply educate.

Lisa Durkin is a science teacher at Valencia High School.


Our Annual Meeting Speaker (June 2016) will be…

Lawrence_KraussLawrence M. Krauss, prominent physicist, author, and commentator!

CESE is pleased to announce that Dr. Krauss will be the keynote speaker for CESE's 2016 Annual Meeting, slated for the afternoon of Saturday, June 25th 2016, at a venue still to be determined. Stay tuned for details - you won't want to miss this one!

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CESE Founder Dr. Marshall Berman, 1939 – 2015


Dr. Marshall Berman

Dr. Marshall Berman passed away on October 25, 2015 in Louisville, CO, at the age of 76. Marshall was a devoted father, scientist, educator, and leader. He is survived by his partner Jan Harkins, his sons Brandon and Brian Berman, his daughter Brenna Berman, his sister Rhoda Berman, and four grandchildren.

Marshall was born on June 16, 1939 in Detroit, MI, to his parents Martin and Esther Berman. He was valedictorian of his high school class and graduated with a B.S. with Distinction in Physics from the University of Michigan. He went on to receive his Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from Wayne State University.

In 1966, Marshall married Nancy Thomadsen and shortly thereafter moved to Albuquerque, NM, after accepting a position at Sandia National Laboratories where he worked for 32 years on nuclear reactor safety, managed a variety of defense research projects, and served as Executive Director of the Innovation Initiative for the U.S. Council on Competitiveness. He raised his family in Albuquerque and enjoyed excelling in hobbies including photography, landscaping, and woodworking.

As Marshall neared retirement at Sandia, he was elected to the New Mexico State Board of Education and served on the board for four years. He was passionate about changing science education standards for the children of the State of New Mexico and went on to be the founding president of the Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education (CESE), devoting his time to help ensure the integrity of New Mexico’s education system. He was also an early and active member of New Mexicans for Science and Reason and served a term as president of the New Mexico Academy of Science.

A memorial service will be held Saturday December 12, 2015, at 1:00pm at the First Unitarian Church (3701 Carlisle Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110). All are welcome to attend and celebrate Dr. Berman’s life (please RSVP here).

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a tax deductible donation to CESE via mail Steve Brügge, CESE Treasurer, 803 Maverick Trail SE, Albuquerque, NM 87123.


Dr. Marshall Berman campaigning for the State Board of Education, 1998. Below: L-R Sen. Harrison Schmitt, Dr. Richard Nygren, Dr. Al Narath, Dr. Marshall Berman, Dr. Laura Crossey, and Rev. Clyde Stansfield.

  berman2 berman2005

My beautiful pictureThe "Darwinist Swat Team", L-R Marvin Moss, Marshall Berman, Eugenie Scott, Kim Johnson, Mark Boslough, Jesse Johnson, and Harry Murphy.


Pro-science dinner, L-R: Jesse Johnson, Marilyn Savitt-Kring, Dave Thomas, Nancy Shelton, Ken Miller, Jerry Shelton, Marshall Berman, Lisa Durkin and Kim Johnson.


At the Rio Rancho School Board, upon victory against a flawed "Intelligent-Design-Friendly" science policy (April 2006)

My beautiful picture

Marshall and Brian "Fox" Ellis (Darwin performer)

MarshallB marshall-young MVC-007SMarshall Berman talks shop with Genie Scott and Kim Johnson.

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New Slate Elected at CESE 2015 Annual Meeting

Lisa Durkin

Lisa Durkin

A new slate of officers for the year 2015-2016 was nominated and elected at CESE's Annual Meeting (June 27th, 2015). Leading CESE for the next year is new president Lisa Durkin.



Jessica McCord

The vice-president/ president- elect for this year is Jessica McCord. Steve Brügge will continue as treasurer, and Marilyn Savitt-Kring is staying on as secretary. Other CESE board members are Marshall Berman, Cindy Chapman, Terry Dunbar, Patty Finley, Jack Jekowski, Jesse Johnson, Kim Johnson, Becky Reiss, Dave Thomas, and Ken Whiton. Jerry Shelton asked to change his status to board member emeritus, which gives him all privileges except voting rights.

CESE thanks outgoing president Patty Finley for a fine year of service at the helm.

Jerry and Nancy Shelton

Jerry and Nancy Shelton were honored with plaques commemorating their years of service to CESE.

At the meeting, which was held at the home of Buzz and Patty Finley, long-time CESE supporters Jerry and Nancy Shelton were given plaques honoring their years of service with CESE.






Earlier in June, CESE treasurer Steve Brügge was also given a CESE plaque on the occasion of his retirement from teaching.

In addition to the certificate below, Steve also got a copy adorned with salutory comments on his teaching, from an online Albuquerque Journal story.

Steve Brügge's award

Steve Brügge's award


Jack Jekowski (left) and Kim Johnson (middle) present a CESE award to treasurer Steve Brügge

Jack Jekowski (left) and Kim Johnson (middle) present a CESE award to treasurer Steve Brügge