Jones High School graduate and National Medal of Science winner Sylvester “Jim” Gates will be delivering a banquet address at the inaugural Conference for Undergraduate Underrepresented Minorities in Physics being held at the University of Maryland in a few weeks (October 6-8). Gates retired from his position as University System of Maryland Regents Professor and John S. Toll Professor of Physics this spring.
But Gates will be the only Jones grad at the meeting. While Gates took a physics course as a student at Jones – while it was segregated – the school hasn’t offered a physics course in the last several years. Not having access to a physics course pretty much knocks Jones students out of the pipeline for careers in engineering and the physical sciences, and harms their prospects for entering health professions.
Gates regularly visits Jones, but he hasn’t been able to coax the administration at his former high school to provide the same opportunities he had.
It’s not that Gates is unfamiliar with the K-12 world, or that he is afraid of making a little turbulence. Gates was serving as Vice President of the Maryland State Board of Education when he resigned from the board to protest Governor Hogan’s decision to require schools to wait until Labor Day to open. One of Hogan’s reasons for doing so was to boost tourism in the state. Gates argued that Hogan’s interference would not only negatively impact the learning of Maryland public school students but would also set a horrible precedent by compromising the independence of Maryland’s district school boards. Hogan responded by calling Gates’ concerns “silly”, “trivial”, “stupid” and “nonsense”.
But Jones remains physics-less.
Perhaps the school’s new administration will reconsider.