Uncle Sam wants you – if you’re the best and brightest – for a new STEM Master Teacher Corps.
That’s the gist of the Obama administration’s ambitious new plan to boost student achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The $1 billion effort, announced July 19, seeks to create an elite cadre of exceptional STEM educators who can serve as curriculum innovators, classroom mentors, and instructional leaders in their schools and communities. Each would receive a stipend of up to $20,000 on top of his or her base salary for shouldering the extra workload.
The full $1 billion for the program depends on Congressional approval of the President’s 2013 budget, which is far from certain. According to the New York Times, an aide to Rep. John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who chairs of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, noted that the federal government already has more than 80 teacher quality programs and said it would be foolish to pump money into programs that may be duplicative or unproductive.
Still, Education Secretary Arne Duncan plans to use $100 million in existing department funds to launch the STEM Master Teacher Corps, identifying an initial 2,500 exceptional teachers in 50 sites around the country. The program would be expanded over four years, growing to 10,000 master teachers. (The White House, in partnership with the Carnegie Foundation, has set a goal of producing 10,000 new STEM teachers in the next decade.)
The STEM Master Teacher Corps is part of a broader White House effort to elevate respect for teachers, particularly those preparing students to pursue STEM majors and careers. “If America is going to compete for the jobs and industries of tomorrow, we need to make sure our children are getting the best education possible,” President Obama said. “Teachers matter, and great teachers deserve our support.”
A recent report by the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology calculated that the United States must increase by the number of students receiving degrees in science, math and related fields by 34 percent to keep pace with economic demand.
The $100 million dedicated to start the STEM Master Teacher Corps comes from the existing Teacher Incentive Fund, a STEM-focused component of which was announced in June with the aim of helping school districts implement plans to identify, develop, and leverage the talents of highly effective STEM teachers. The deadline to apply for these funds is July 27th. Some 35 school districts across the country already have signaled their interest in competing for a grant.
Filed under: K-12 Education News