In the United States, approximately 42% of all high school graduates have taken a physics course. In Arizona, the number is significantly lower, around 20%. This limits students’ options, keeping them from taking a class that is essential to not only those who pursue a scientific field in their post-secondary education but also those who pursue training in a technical field or trade. For years I approached this as a problem I could solve by talking to school counselors and principals, and through targeted student recruitment. I held large-scale projects like an annual spring cardboard boat race and fall “Punkin’ Chunkin’” catapult-building project. I worked myself to the bone to build my program, and still felt helpless against the tide of “integrated” science courses that eschewed physical science standards, and alternatives that were put in place to give students a way to avoid a physics course. The real problem is systemic, not one borne of lack of student interest or counselor education. We, as educators, can and should campaign for real change, whether it be through changes in our own classroom or structural change at the school or district level. As de facto physics education experts, we can advocate for and actively work towards lasting change that impacts the future of physics education.

1.
R. Y.
Chu
and
S.
White
,
High School Physics Overview: Results from the 2018-19 Nationwide Survey of High School Physics Teachers
(
American Institute of Physics
,
2021
).
3.
Martins
 et al, “
PEER Physics: An evidence based framework for inclusive physics curricula
,” to appear in
The Physics Teacher.
4.
AAPT Statement on Physics First
(
2002
), https://www.aapt.org/Re-sources/policy/physicsfirst.cfm.
5.
The Shortage of Physics Teachers, PhysTEC, https://phystec.org/teacher-shortage (
2021
).
6.
Helios Education Foundation
, https://www.helios.org/.
7.
Arizona Student Opportunity Collaborative
, http://azsoc.org/.
8.
Title II funding is used to increase the effectiveness of teachers, principals, and other school leaders. See https://www.k12.wa.us/sites/default/files/public/titleiia/program/pubdocs/instructions-allowable-use-of-funds-ospi-titleii.pdf, accessed Nov 18, 2021.
9.
AAPT/AIP Master Teacher Policy Fellowships, American Association of Physics Teachers, https://aapt.org/K12/Aspiring_to_Lead.cfm.
10.
Bill History for SB1051, Arizona Legislature, https://apps.azleg.gov/BillStatus/BillOverview/71118 (
2019
).
11.
J.
Jackson
, Arizona SB1038 and SB1551 History, Resources; Cactus Caucus, ASU Modeling Instruction: http://modeling.asu.edu/AZ/SB1038history,resources,CactusCaucus.pdf = (
2019
).
12.
See also
A.
Grimes
 et al,
Honoring Teachers as Professionals
(
AIP Publishing
,
Melville, NY
,
2021
), https://aip.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/9780735423190_004.
AAPT members receive access to The Physics Teacher and the American Journal of Physics as a member benefit. To learn more about this member benefit and becoming an AAPT member, visit the Joining AAPT page.