January/February 2010

$250 million effort for science, math teachers

The White House announced a $250 million public-private effort in January to improve science and mathematics instruction, aiming to help the nation compete in key fields with global economic rivals.

With funding from high-tech businesses, universities, and foundations, the initiative seeks to prepare more than 10,000 new math and science school teachers over five years and provide on-the-job training for an additional 100,000 in science, technology, engineering and math, according to The Washington Post.

The initiative effectively doubles, to more than $500 million, a philanthropic campaign for so-called STEM education that President Barack Obama launched in November 2009. Separately, the government spends about $700 million a year on elementary and secondary education in the STEM fields through agencies such as NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Education Department.

Intel Corp., based in Santa Clara, Calif., and the Intel Foundation are committing $200 million in cash and in-kind support over 10 years for expanded teacher training and other measures. For instance, the company will offer nationwide an intensive 80-hour math course to help U.S. elementary school teachers, who are usually generalists, develop expertise. 

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Princeton, N.J., will expand a program that places math and science teachers with advanced degrees in hard-to-staff schools in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. With $40 million in foundation and state funding, the program will train 700 teachers over three years.

Other elements of the initiative include a $13.5 million expansion of a university-based program called UTeach that aims to deliver 7,000 expert teachers by 2018; a commitment from public universities to prepare 10,000 math and science teachers a year, up from 7,500 annually; and efforts by NASA and PBS to promote effective math and science teaching.

"If we're going to be economically competitive and continue to innovate and create jobs, we have to get much, much better in STEM education," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "There's a huge sense of urgency."