New Initiative Aims To Attract Math And Science Teachers

Compiled By Staff
January 7, 2010

President Obama yesterday announced a new $250 million initiative to help train thousands more math and science teachers in the coming years.

The initiative is part of the Obama administration's "Educate to Innovate" campaign, which seeks to improve American students in math and science achievements. The president announced several new partnerships yesterday involving federal agencies, companies, universities, foundations and non-profit organizations which he said would prepare more than 10,000 new math and science teachers over the next five years.

"The quality of math and science teachers is the most important single factor influencing whether students will succeed or fail in science, technology, engineering and math," Obama said. "Passionate educators with issue expertise can make all the difference, enabling hands-on learning that truly engages students--including girls and underrepresented minorities--and preparing them to tackle the grand challenges of the 21st century such as increasing energy independence, improving people's health, protecting the environment and strengthening national security."

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that leaders of 121 public universities have pledged to support Obama's goal, and 41 institutions said they would double the number of science and math teachers trained each year by 2015. According to a White House press release, university leaders will assess and scale programs that have a strong track record of success, innovate to create new preparation models, ensure that teaching is valued as a career option, and work closely with states to address teacher shortages.

The initiative is clearly needed. Recent reports indicate that while 125,000 teaching jobs have been shed since last year, math teachers remain in high demand. In addition, some organizations, such as EnCorps in California, have been actively recruiting people with math, science and technology careers to become teachers in low-income areas.

"If we're going to be economically competitive and continue to innovate and create jobs, we have to get much, much better in STEM education," explained Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who was quoted in The Washington Post using the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. "There's a huge sense of urgency."

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