Many K-12 STEM educators do not hold
a certification in their fields. In response to this, as well as to new CCSS standards, President Obama has announced one billion dollars
in funding for training of 20,000 new K-12 STEM teachers in his 2013 budget. This funding will create a “Master Corps” of educators designed to not only have the teaching expertise required of all K-12 educators, but specific training in upper-level science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Members of this STEM Master Corps will receive a $20,000 yearly federal stipend in addition to their base salary.
This commitment is part of a larger program, the RESPECT Project (Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching), a five billion dollar program designed to increase the quality of K-12 STEM education. The Master Teaching Corps and RESPECT programs are a set of strategies for advancing STEM education. The President has made STEM education a focal point of his educational platform, even mentioning it in his last State of the Union address.
Do you think that this will improve the state of STEM education in this country? Share your thoughts about this initiative. Are you a studying to be a teacher? If so, would you consider joining the Master Corps?
Last Tuesday, President Obama hosted a science fair at the White House to underline the importance of S
ngineering, and M
athematics learning, or STEM education
. At the fair, the president proposed an $80 million increase in federal funding directed toward math and science education
. A large chunk of that money would be used to train specialized math and science teachers. Some would function to incentivize math education at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. While this proposal, along with the rest of the president’s 2013 budget plan, requires approval by Congress, it acknowledges STEM’s critical importance and potential for growth. In addition, President Obama stressed the positive impact of many educational grants from private sector businesses and organizations.
By taking part in science fairs and other STEM activities aimed at exploring practical problems, students become engaged with the subjects and are more likely to pursue them at a higher level. And since many students find math to be a particularly difficult subject to grasp, focusing funding on teacher training could boost student success markedly. As the Common Core makes its debut in classrooms, U.S. math education is already in a state of evolution. Greater emphasis on STEM and better teaching practices will hopefully increase math’s popularity with students.
The President’s overarching goal of promoting and strengthening STEM education is to encourage students to pursue these subjects at the collegiate level and in their careers. Currently, only 40 percent of math and science majors complete their degree, and projections show that the country will need one million college graduates in the next decade to fill anticipated job openings requiring math and science skills. We need to attract students into these fields, and the government’s commitment to STEM is encouraging. With our country’s rapid technological growth, it’s important to keep math education up-to-date both in its content and how it is taught.
A few weeks ago, the Obama administration launched Digital Promise, a nonprofit initiative that intends to transform learning and teaching by advancing classroom technologies. According to a September 16, 2011 White House press release, a coalition of leading educators, researchers, technology firms, and entrepreneurs will collaborate at Digital Promise to harness the power of learning technology and “bring all of America’s schools into the 21st century.”
According to the White House press release, Digital Promise intends to tackle three significant challenges in order to advance learning technologies:
- Identifying breakthrough technologies
- Learning faster what’s working and what’s not
- Transforming the market for learning technologies
The Digital Promise website encourages “us”— educators, innovators, researchers, and citizens—to “join the discussion” by sharing our experiences with technology in the classroom and by identifying the challenges we face which learning technologies could potentially solve.
Visit Digital Promise to learn more about the initiative, “join the discussion,” and collaborate with this innovative new center!
In a recent speech at the Urban League's 100th Anniversary Convention, President Obama announced that “education is an economic issue – if not “the” economic issue of our time.” It’s true that people often forget about the implications of education for the next generation of our country’s leaders. The government may be doing all it can to fix the economic crisis now, but who will be there to do the same in twenty years?
So education is an economic issue both in the immediate sense—how to budget for it in a struggling economy—and in the more long term sense—how well are students prepared to enter the real world. Right now, 21st century skills, which include competence and facility with technology, are crucial prerequisites for many 21st century jobs. The President noted that unemployment among people who have not gone to college is almost double the rate for those who did attend college. Thus, as I pointed out in my last post, engaging students so they want to pursue higher learning is critical.
As the government introduces numerous reforms, incentives, and grants, it’s great to see that the importance of education has grabbed so many people’s attention. There may be heated debate over what approaches are most effective, but keeping the conversation going is essential. How can we keep our students competitive in a global society, not only in terms of their test scores, but also in terms of their skills, motivation, and perseverance? The President’s message is: don’t settle with the status quo.
Photo Credit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/president-obama
After reading Obama's education speech today, I felt like shouting: "That's what I've been trying to tell you!!!" My little welcome back to school blog last week targeted a similar theme of the value of failure. Mistakes are learning opportunities, signals to persevere, not signals to quit.
Indeed, I think the President has been reading the same research that I've been perusing. He spoke about the importance of effort, that your ability is not innate, that practice is critical, and that students have some important responsibilities in the classroom, along with teachers and parents. I'll add curriculum developers and publishers to the list of folks who share the obligation of creating a powerful and engaging learning environment for our children. I certainly take the responsibility very seriously.
I'm glad that the President used the beginning of the school year to share his message of hard work and perseverance. Typically I hear this message at graduation speeches. In fact, I had the pleasure of sitting on stage when J.K. Rowling, whom Obama mentioned, delivered her value-of-failure message to Harvard's graduating class of 2008. She made the point that "failure" for Harvard students might not be the same as "failure" for others, but whatever your standards, you need to have failure. If you never fail, it means you never tried. And if you never tried, you really never lived. It was a wonderful talk that inspired the world's top performing college graduates to step into unfamiliar places. That's when you really learn. That's a good message at the outset of a school year too.
Obama, too, tried to inspire students to reach for greater things. In many academically high performing countries, students do feel that educational success is a civic duty. The President made that connection very explicit: "Don't let your family or your country down." Students need to work hard and succeed for the good of the nation. The message feels a bit old-fashioned to me, but that doesn't mean it isn't true and won't work. I'm anxious to hear how kids respond.
I'm also curious how students will respond to role models like J.K. Rowling, Michael Jordan, and the founders of Google, Twitter, and Facebook. Certainly, Obama noted kids who overcame the odds of poverty and physical disability, very achievable goals. But does the prospect of changing the world -- being the best basketball player ever or creating new ways to communicate -- motivate students or place unreasonable burdens on them? Another graduation speaker, at my son's high school commencement, did a nice job I thought of walking the line between big aspirations and "It's a Wonderful Life". Dr. Eric Lander, the founding director of the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT and co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, gave a marvelous address in June in which he talked about what could happen in the next 50 years of these students' lives. Lander talked about his experience on the Human Genome Project which announced the mapping of the human genome 50 years to the day of Crick and Watson's initial proposal of the double helix.
So, in 50 years, the life of these students' professional careers, you can change everything. Lander recounted example after example of ideas, inventions, and actions that prompted dramatic changes in about 50 years. The parents in the audience, including myself, felt a sense of excitement at the prospect of what our children could be a part of, let alone potentially cause. But we also felt a huge weight on the shoulders of these teenagers. Is changing the world the measure of success? How could our children measure up?
Then Lander reminded us that the scope of one's actions is not necessarily indicative of the importance. It's like he felt our anxiety. The most important thing you can do, he said, is raise a family, and that effort, too, is about a 50 year commitment. You don't have to change the world all at once. You can make a huge contribution in your family or your neighborhood. It's still a heroic effort, but it's one that we can all reach. Michael Jordan and J.K. Rowling are exceptions, but we don't have to be exceptions to do exceptional things. That's the message I want to leave our students as they start this new school year.