10,000 math, science teachers, but how?

President Obama wants to recruit 10,000 new math and science teachers over the next two years to improve STEM achievement in line with an advisory council report.  The feds will develop “a new website and a partnership with Facebook to connect current and aspiring teachers,” reports Education Week, based on Secretary Arne Duncan’s conversation with Tom Brokaw on MSNBC.

In other words, Obama isn’t offering federal money to pay the salaries of new hires — or fund the early retirement of poorly qualified math and science teachers. He’s not talking about a federal bonus to lure chemists, physicists and mathematicians into teaching or jawboning districts to offer differential pay to teachers with hard-to-find skills. It’s a web site and a Facebook account.

Before the recent wave of layoffs, many middle and high schools, especially those in high-poverty and high-minority areas, have hired math and science teachers who didn’t major in the subject, Education Trust complains. I suspect the recession has increased the supply of well-qualified people interested in teaching math and science. Whether they’re able to get jobs is a different story.

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  1. ‘How’ is a good question. The majority of Americans hate few things more than Science, and especially Math… My question is, how did this country get to this point? Wasn’t there a time when Math and Science were considered subjects everyone wanted to know about?

  2. Wasn’t there a time when Math and Science were considered subjects everyone [in the USA] wanted to know about?


    Historically, the strength of the US has been in practical tinkering and engineering, not in science. Consider that the best known US technologists have either been inventors that mostly accomplished what they did via practical trial-and-error (Morse, Bell, Edison) or via some math, but not lots of theory (Wright Brothers).

    Science has been much more of a European thing until around WW2, and we then imported a bunch of scientists.

    -Mark Roulo

    [And, no, I’m *not* claiming that the US did no science prior to WW2, just that there is no historic time when math and science were particularly popular in the US.]

  3. Bring ’em over from Turkey like the Gulen Movement’s charter schools do. I’m sure Fethullah Gulen would appreciate the help.


  4. We need to rid our schools of the mediocre math programs developed with our tax dollars through NSF as soon as possible. Students that are successful in college math and science are those that have mastered basic skills in early grades and are prepared to study authentic algebra and beyond.

    Read the National Math Advisory Panel’s Final Report.

    Is the current administration following the recommendations?

    From the recent Report to the President (p12):
    All of these recommendations are directed at the Federal Government, and in particular we focus our attention on actions to be taken by the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation as the lead Federal agencies for STEM education initiatives in K-12.

  5. While you can bring in a person knowledgeable in science or math, the real challenge is to teach them how to teach the subjects – it does take some time to learn how to break down complicated concepts in a way that students can grasp.

    In science, learning how to manage labs for maximum effectiveness is a skill that takes time to master – how to set it up, how to assist students with the activity so they see the point of the lab, how to handle the after-lab discussion, and, perhaps most important, how to keep the equipment and materials from being misused or taken – oh, and not having accidents. The admins really frown on dead/maimed students.

    I kid, but it’s more than just shoving the smart would-be teacher in a room, waving your hands, and saying, “teach”. It can take several years to bring that person up to the level of competent.

    The science organizations, in the past, have provided that link to helping science teachers master the profession – NSTA, AAPT, NABT. The AAPT ran over 25 years of having experienced physics teachers lead workshops showing newbies/cross-over teachers how to do the job through the PTRA program. It was proven effective (disclosure – I am affiliated with the program). I, myself, went from General Science certification (the lowest level in high school science) to Physics/Chemistry – highly qualified – in great part due to attending the workshops, doing the coursework, and plugging away at learning my craft.

    Y’all can’t just throw the “smart guys” in the classroom, and expect great math and science teachers. Dudn’t work that way. (spelling intended, meant to convey accent).

  6. The Cato institute also reacted to this speech:


    They point out that, since 1970, employment in the K-12 public schools has increased by 100%, but enrollment has only increased by about 30%. Adjusted for inflation, we spend almost four times as much per student on education as in 1970, yet test scores are almost unchanged.

    The answer isn’t more resources.


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  2. […] our strength has been in practical trial-and-error tinkering manufacturing and engineering, Mark Roulo […]