U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today said a measure he authored to provide $10 million to help recruit and train math and science teachers has been included by the Senate as an amendment to the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2008.
“This is a smart investment for both our nation’s schools and for our ability to keep America competitive in the global marketplace,” Alexander said. “Recruiting and developing more math and science teachers is an investment we must make if America is to set the pace in science and technology for the next generation. Boosting our children’s brainpower through education to keep our jobs from going overseas is the right way for Congress to spend federal dollars.”
The amendment, cosponsored by U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), passed the Senate last night by unanimous agreement. The amendment would provide:
o $6 million for an undergraduate teacher program to recruit and train more highly-qualified math and science teachers.
o $4 million for a graduate teacher program to increase the skills of existing math and science teachers and to encourage professionals from other careers to join the teaching force.
Both programs were authorized by the bipartisan America COMPETES Act which Alexander championed in the Senate and was signed into law by President Bush this August. The two programs are modeled after highly successful programs already underway at the University of Texas, called UTeach, and at the University of Pennsylvania, called PennScience.
o UTeach recruits undergraduate students who are majoring in math and/or the sciences and provides incentives for them to become teacher-certified and teach in public schools.
o PennScience provides a master’s degree program over the course of three successive summers for current teachers who lack sufficient qualifications in the sciences.
These competitive grant dollars would allow other universities to establish similar initiatives at their schools.
The America COMPETES Act the culmination of over two years of work by Alexander, Congressman Bart Gordon (D-Murfreesboro) and others to protect America’s brainpower advantage through math and science education and increased scientific research. The bill was based on recommendations from the National Academies study “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” which specifically highlighted the UTeach and PennScience programs and called on Congress to make them available nationwide.
The $10 million in the Alexander amendment would be offset by a reduction in the U.S. Department of Education administrative account.
Alexander sits on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and is a former U.S. Secretary of Education.