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Elite STEM Teacher Corps Proposed

STEM Teacher Corps

Sen. Franken at FIRST Robotics

Al Franken, the Democratic senator from Minnesota and former “Saturday Night Live” comedian, wants the nation’s best STEM instructors to be drawn into a Master Teacher Corps.

These master teachers would serve as instructional leaders and mentors for other teachers. They would get extra pay, with more going to those teaching at high-need public schools.

Master teachers would be picked and trained by consortia of local education authorities or states that would partner with colleges, universities or nonprofit institutions. The consortia, half-funded by U.S. Department of Education grants, would also track the effectiveness of the training.

Franken’s proposal is in line with a recommendation last year by the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, or PCAST, which called for a master corps of the top five percent of STEM teachers nationwide.

Introducing the STEM Master Teacher Corps Act April 7, Franken, whose son is an engineering graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said members would mentor younger or less effective teachers and network with one another to share best practices and classroom resources. “Together, these measures will improve the ability of all teachers to impart strong STEM skills and an eagerness to learn to their students.”

Meanwhile, a trio of lawmakers plans to reintroduce legislation that would provide grants to state and local education authorities that integrate engineering into the K-12 curriculum. Their bill calls for developing curricula that meet challenging standards; training and professional development, distance learning, and after-school programs.

Called the Engineering Education (E2) for Innovation Act, it drew support from a number of leading corporations when it was introduced in the last Congress by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) , Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.).

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