There are many reasons why making policy and financial decisions to foster equity in science education is difficult. The skill that diverse constituencies have in influencing federal, state, and local policy makers is one, and the lack of agreement on what constitutes equity is another. In the long run, making good policy decisions about equity is hard because the needed data and research on what works are limited. Despite these difficulties, Project 2061 remains committed to the idea of science literacy for all students and to setting standards and expectations to work toward this goal. Examples of successful programs provide plenty of reason to believe that the goal is possible, given the will and necessary resources.

It sometimes seems as though policy and finance are as inseparable as light and shadow. Policies usually have financial consequences, and financial resources generally influence, if not determine, policy. A school board policy decision, based on sound educational principles, to decrease the student/teacher ratio, lengthen the school year, or increase the number of after-school activities will add substantial costs to the annual budget. The same board, under the threat of a large budget deficit might, for sound financial reasons, increase the student/teacher ratio, shorten the school year, or decrease the number of after-school student activities.

To be sure, in practice the intertwining of policy and finance is not a simple matter. It is not always evident, for example, what the dollar cost of an educational policy decision will turn out to be nor what the educational cost of a budget decision will turn out to be. One thing we can be certain of, however, is that rarely will policy or financial decisions have the same impact on all students. Educational equity may be a great rallying cry in the United States, but it is far from having been achieved. Whether science for all Americans can become a reality any time soon depends on how thoughtfully policy and financial decisions are made in the years ahead-a daunting prospect in the face of the political pluralism and dispersed
decision-making that characterizes our education system.

Systematic research in education of the right kind and quality is needed to inform education policies and practices. The case for thinking of research as a foundation for every aspect of education may rest more on optimistic hopes for the future than on incontrovertible evidence from the past. The current picture of research with its successes, failures, impediments and opportunities is notable for the absence of a clearly articulated research agenda built around the idea of science literacy. An important characteristic of such an agenda is that it should be interdisciplinary-not only in content but in research methodology. As a relatively new scholarly area, education research is only beginning to be productive in informing practitioners. The increasing use of qualitative methods may provide improved congruence between research and the classroom. Nevertheless, finding effective ways to bring researchers and teachers into closer and more active relationships remains a challenge for the future.