Obama Directs $250 Million for Science and Math Education

By Paulson, Amanda | The Christian Science Monitor, January 6, 2010 | Go to article overview
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Obama Directs $250 Million for Science and Math Education


Paulson, Amanda, The Christian Science Monitor


New funding will increase the number of science, technology, engineering, and math teachers. The goal is to improve US students' mediocre ranking in math and science performance.

President Obama on Wednesday announced a $250 million public- private

effort to increase the number and quality of science, technology,

engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers.

The partnerships expand the "Educate to Innovate" campaign Mr.

Obama launched in November. But where the initial campaign focused on

out-of-classroom science exposure - bringing in organizations like

the Discovery Channel and Sesame Street - the latest efforts focus

specifically the teaching part of the issue.

"The in-school intervention that has the highest impact on student

achievement is a strong teacher," says Arthur Levine, president of

the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, whose teaching fellowship is one of

the five programs the administration is helping to expand.

The push for more attention on STEM subjects has been building for

some time, with educators, business leaders, scientists, and

policymakers calling attention to American students' lackluster

math and science performance relative to other countries and sounding

the alarm for what it means for the country's future.

"Our future is on the line," said Obama in announcing the new

partnerships and honoring more than 100 science and math teachers.

"The nation that out-educates us today is going to out-compete us

tomorrow."

US students' mediocre rankingAccording to one measure, US students

are 19th in math and 14th in science out of 31 countries ranked by

the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

And in 2000, the number of foreign students studying physical

sciences and engineering in US grad schools for the first time

surpassed the number of American students.

Women and minority students are vastly underrepresented among

undergraduate majors in science and math, and there is a growing

shortage of qualified teachers for STEM subjects.

That shortage is what the programs highlighted Wednesday aims to

address, trying to increase both the number and quality of STEM

teachers, particularly in high-poverty schools.

Among the partnerships:

- An expansion of the UTeach program, which helps science and math

undergraduates receive a teaching certificate along with their

baccalaureate degree.

- A commitment by the presidents of more than 75 public

universities to prepare 10,000 science and math teachers by 2015.

- An expansion of the Woodrow Wilson teaching fellowships, which

will train more than 700 math and science teachers in Indiana, Ohio,

and Michigan over the next three years.

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