Master Teacher Corps Will Promote and Expand STEM Education
7.25.12 | The Obama administration last week announced plans to spend $1 billion on a specialized teacher task force to boost student achievement in areas integral to U.S. economic growth. The corps will specialize in math and science, as well as the related subjects of technology and engineering.
Teachers selected for the STEM Master Teacher Corps would serve as a resource for their school and other educators, taking on leadership and mentorship roles. Corp members will be asked to make a multi-year commitment, for which they will receive an annual stipend of up to $20,000 on top of their base salary.
The administration said it would launch the program with 50 teachers in 50 different sites, expanding to 10,000 teachers over the next four years. The White House intends to dedicate approximately $100 million of the existing Teacher Incentive Fund to help school districts “implement high-quality plans to establish career ladders that identify, develop, and leverage highly effective STEM teachers,” according to a White House statement.
“With an application deadline of July 27th,” the release continues, “over 30 school districts across America have already signaled their interest in competing for funding to identify and compensate highly effective teachers who can model and mentor STEM instruction for their teaching peers, providing those teachers with additional compensation, recognition, and responsibilities in their schools.”
But the program’s future is far from certain, pending budget battles in both the House and the Senate, writes Associated Press reporter Josh Lederman.
A 2010 report released by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (pdf) recommended establishing a STEM Master Teacher Corp as part of a plan to better prepare K-12 students in STEM subjects and to inspire students—especially those traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields—to engage with STEM classes and activities both in and outside the classroom.
This year, the same advisory group found that the United States must produce approximately 1 million more STEM professionals (pdf) over the next decade to maintain a lead role in STEM fields. To do so, it needs to increase the number of students receiving degrees in the fields of math and sciences by 34 percent annually. The report found that this can be accomplished by increasing the retention rate of STEM majors during the first few years of college.
At a re-election rally in San Antonio last week, President Obama emphasized the importance of the administration’s new proposal. “I’m running to make sure that America has the best education system on earth, from pre-K all the way to post-graduate,” he said, “and that means hiring new teachers, especially in math and science.”
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