Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Just a quote. No comments (yet).

From the State of the Union address:

And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all. We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people, and we are going to keep that edge. Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy and to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science.

First, I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the work of America's most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology and supercomputing and alternative energy sources. Second, I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit to encourage bolder private-sector initiative in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come.

Third, we need to encourage children to take more math and science and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We've made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers to lead Advanced Placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taking more math and science classes is fine. However, having the time, resources and subject matter knowledgeable teachers to take the students deeper into the subject, do experiments, discuss their hypothesis, procedures, expected results vs what actually happened, giving the kids the time to think it through completely -- that is critical. Without this forget the extra classes as you are doing nothing more than is being done now.

Teachers need to have a deep understanding of these two subjects. Most of the elementary teachers have no clue about math or science. Many of the 5th and 6th grade teachers (in my district) are the same way. Until you have teachers major in the subjects and take a few education classes rather than have teachers major in education with no or very little subject matter exposure or knowledge (elementary and some middle maybe even some high school teachers)you are just sending money down a very black hole.

Reform in teacher colleges must come with this thrust. Expectations of teachers - entrance requirements and classroom results - must be raised. This will probably mean higher pay to attract truly qualified individuals who love children to the classroom. That is fine.

My two cents worth --


6:24 AM  
Blogger Aunt Murry said...

I wish I could believe anything, any politician said. I am so jaded from all the lip service, I watch and listen with a "I'll believe it when I see it" attitude.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Math requires no labs or special facilities other than a willing mind. Most science classes depend on labs to add an important dimension to understanding principles.

But every engineering student takes some basic classes: Statics is one; Dynamics is another. They cover physics topics. Labs are not included.

That aside, the bigger issue is finding people able to teach math and various sciences. My high school science teachers began their careers in science positions in private enterprise, then became teachers. Most were good.

But today's certification process is so time-consuming, tedious and petty that anyone with alternatives will take a different route.

Moreover, certification requires having college-level foreign language credits on your college transcript.

Engineers frequently take NO foreign language classes because there is too much science and math to learn to devote time to other subjects. Thus, most earn B.S. degrees rather than B.A. degrees.

Therefore, unless engineers who want to switch to teaching in public school are willing to devote time and money to acquiring college-level language credits, few will ever become teachers.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Chaz said...

This is a real puzzler. We all agree that if we had more Ms. Fizzles in the elementary and middle school system, we would have more students interested in the physical sciences. However, reality is that most teachers that are not in the high schools don't have the depth of knowledge to really make science interesting at the level needed to encourage science careers.

I teach Advanced Placement Environmental Science and Regents Earth Science and very few of the students have an interest in the physical sciences. When I ask the students who seem to have the ability to succeed in the physical science field. All respond by saying thanks but I want to be......

To get top-notch science & math teachers you need to pay a competitive salary and that is not happening, merit pay or no merit pay. Why start at $42,000 and wait 20 years to get to $90,000, deal with 125 incomplete personalities daily? When you can travel the world, have a private office, and make $60,000 to start and $125,000+ in seven years and only deal with five to ten educated adults each day?

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly, Chaz! How in the world are we going to attract more highly qualified science and math teachers, with the aim of getting more kids into "good high-wage jobs," if the prerequisite for being a teacher is giving up any chance of a high-wage job yourself? Teachers clearly love what they do; they do it in spite of everything you just laid out. Maybe it's time to make things a little easier on them and attract some others who currently can't afford to teach with actual living wages...

I get started on this and I can't stop; suffice to say that in Richmond, California, on a starting teacher's salary in one of the toughest places to teach in the state, you qualify for food stamps. Something is seriously broken, and until the salary and respect level accorded to teaching line up with other jobs well trained scientists can get, those target recruitment numbers will remain pipe dreams.

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous said:

"on a starting teacher's salary in one of the toughest places to teach in the state, you qualify for food stamps."

So take the food stamps and start teaching. They are a subsidy, a real subsidy.

What's the dollar value? How much of a raise do they provide?

3:51 PM  
Blogger urbansocrates said...

How about offering starting math and science teachers three times what is currently paid? Just as an experiment, to see how many folks from the private sector leap into the breach to save public education and the country. That could be federally funded, couldn't it?

5:41 PM  
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2:45 AM  

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