Bioscience

Congress schooled on STEM teaching crisis

June 25, 2007

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: Laura Devaney, Associate Editor, eSchool News] — At a June 21 briefing on Capitol Hill, federal legislators and policy makers got a lesson in why schools have a hard time recruiting and retaining teachers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) — and what lawmakers can do to change that. The lack of a systemic approach to recruiting, preparing, and retaining teachers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has contributed to a shortage of highly qualified instructors in these fields–and this shortage, in turn, threatens the nation’s ability to compete in a global economy: So said speakers at a June 21 briefing on Capitol Hill.

Hosted by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and the U.S. Senate’s STEM Education Caucus, the briefing sought to convince members of Congress and their staffs of the need for national strategies and solutions to attract and retain teachers in the STEM disciplines–subjects that are vital, participants said, to preparing students to participate in an increasingly global society. “It is well known that the country’s ability to succeed in the global economy is lagging and that we are losing our unrivaled edge in mathematics, science, and innovation to competitor nations,” said Sharon Robinson, AACTE’s president and chief executive.

“The 16-percent annual turnover rates of both math and science teachers is the highest of all fields,” Robinson said. “Shortages of [highly] qualified math and science teachers exist in most states and districts across the country. Thus, unprepared teachers are assigned to teach math or science out-of-field.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]