Why we need more qualified STEM teachers
Voices intern Nicole Bibel contributed this piece on a new initiative to promote effective STEM teaching in the U.S.
Last month, President Obama announced his plan to create a master corps of STEM teachers, those who teach science, technology, engineering, and math. The initiative, which would have a $1 billion budget, aims to have 10,000 exemplary STEM teachers placed throughout the country within four years. The corps will be comprised of teachers who not only have incredible knowledge in their field, but also apply innovative and effective techniques to their teaching. The program was announced following a series of studies that brought to light the deficits within current STEM programs; a National Center for Education Statistics survey found over a quarter of STEM teachers are not certified in the subjects that they teach, and according to a report by the New Teacher Project, those who are successful are continuously leaving the classroom because they feel as though they’re not being allowed to use their talents to the best of their abilities.
Both the President and outside agencies agree that this is more than just an education issue, and that the quality of STEM programs will have a direct economical impact. In the press release for the program, President Obama said: “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,” a sentiment echoed in several news articles that have highlighted the importance of “a highly skilled STEM workforce to compete and succeed in a global marketplace.” This initiative ensures economic security not just on a global scale, but on a national one as well. Change the Equation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving STEM education recently found that while nationwide there are three times as many unemployed citizens as there are job openings, there are twice as many STEM positions open as people qualified to fill them.
Several independent groups have risen to the challenge and have devoted themselves to filling this gap. Teach For America and 100Kin10 have both launched initiatives to not only hire and train more highly qualified STEM teachers, but also to spread the word that this is an area that desperately needs to be addressed.