I've been teaching chemistry in a very diverse, Title I public high school for about 20 years. "My" discipline is still the gateway for my students to medical professions and careers, materials science, and technical trades. At age 16, kids encounter it as the first hands-on science that "makes sense" It can carry a surprising number of them toward advanced, academic disciplines. It is apparently not seen as vital to our 21st century globally competitive economy, however.
My visionary goal is a planet-wide Watershed Portal on Google Earth. Schools could log on and share their environmental data with other schools in their own watershed, instead of just uploading it into the virtual bedlam. The National Parks Service "Hands on the Land" site has an underfunded project like that, out of the Smokey mountains. In addition to more sophisticated projects, a national campaign to plant appropriate shade along secondary and tertiary streams could lower the temperature in our great rivers by several degrees. Our children can save the freshwater fauna from extinction with their own hands.
It saddens me to see this site bending to the corporate reformer agenda, which has worked against everything science teachers stand for. I can't believe George Lucas needs Bill Gates' money.