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Science teacher Mr. Towne: all students can achieve at high levels with appropriate support

Towne: ESEA should focus on ensuring equal opportunity for all students

WASHINGTON - February 05, 2015 -

WASHINGTON— Michael Towne, a science high school teacher from California, today appeared with education practitioners and policy experts at a forum hosted by the Ranking Member of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott. Congress is starting in earnest the reauthorization process to revamp the 13-year-old federal No Child Left Behind law, originally known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Forum on ESEA Reauthorization heard the perspectives of practitioners like Michael, researchers, and advocates about evidence-based approaches to improving educational opportunities for all students. Mr. Towne is an enthusiastic member of the National Education Association and the California Teachers Association.

Below is an excerpt from his prepared testimony. The full testimony is found here or


“Based on my experience as a teacher, I deeply believe that instead of labeling and punishing schools, we need to focus on ensuring equal opportunity for all our students—the reason ESEA was passed in the first place. And, as part of ensuring equal opportunity, we need to address the under-representation of racial and ethnic minority students in STEM-related fields like physics and engineering, the subjects I teach.”  


 “If we are serious about reversing racialization in fields like physics and engineering, then we must be willing to hold ourselves accountable to the ideal of equitable access to math, science, and engineering education from an early age for all students.” 


 “Year after year, dozens of students graduate from our program and are accepted by major universities. How is this possible? The answer is surprisingly simple. With appropriate support, all students can achieve at high levels, regardless of what their backgrounds might suggest. If we support the students who need it most, they will more than repay our efforts with their own.” 

Mr. Towne is a teacher of physics and engineering at Citrus Hill High School, Val Verde Unified SchoolDistrict, Mead Valley, California. He is one of four educators awarded the Fishman Prize, which spotlights excellent in teaching and effective practices of educators working in high-poverty public schools.

Following careers in the U.S. Marine Corps and as a small business owner, Towne joined the teaching profession in 2001. When he first arrived at Citrus Hill, a 1,700-student school about an hour east of Los Angeles, only 41 students were enrolled in Physics and none in Engineering. He responded by developing a new Physics and Engineering program from scratch, increasing enrollment to over 350 students in 8 years while maintaining high levels of student achievement in the district. In 2012, of all the Mexican-American students passing the AP Physics C exam in California, one-quarter came from Towne’s classroom.

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The National Education Association ( is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez  (202) 822-7823,