This year was my first in a high school classroom. Prior to this I taught nine years in college across all levels of physics. I love teaching and physics. But the longer I’ve been a physics educator, the more I have noticed that physics is often thought of as a “tough” course meant to “weed out” students, and that this perception does not impact all populations equally. Racial gaps in graduation rates from STEM programs are well documented, and contrast starkly with the similar entry rates observed. This is exacerbated by gender inequities. Further, the disparity in female, Black, and Hispanic students completing degrees in STEM fields cannot be explained by preparation levels or socioeconomic status. Research suggests that underrepresented populations seek degrees that allow them to help communities, and the completion discrepancy is evidence that STEM fields are not being presented in this way.

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Special thanks to my collaborators in the University of Kansas /Kansas State Department of Education Physics Advisory Group—Brock Baxter, Nicholas Anderson, Meg Richard, Christine Audo, and Kathy Porre.
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