Science Committee Holds Hearing on K-12th Grade Math and Science Education
The House Science Committee held a hearing yesterday to ask classroom teachers how the Federal Government can help improve kindergarten through Grade 12 science and math education. Three of the four teachers who testified are current winners of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the nation's highest commendation for K-12th grade math and science teachers.
Congressman Mark Udall (D-CO) noted during the hearing the difficulty of getting math and science teachers properly trained to teach these subjects, to use the technology now coming into the classroom most effectively and to lower the cost of these technologies sufficiently to have them widely deployed in the schools.
He also introduced a bill (H.R. 932) that would provide scholarships for scientists and engineers to become certified as science, math and technology teachers in elementary and secondary schools. The bill would begin to address the shortage of qualified science and math teachers by providing an incentive for individuals with the content knowledge to try teaching as a career.
"My proposal seeks to ensure not only a high quality of science and math education for our students, but also a sufficient quantity of trained teachers available to teach them," said Udall.
The Science Teacher Scholarships for Scientists and Engineers Act authorizes a program of one year, $7,500 scholarships to be awarded by the National Science Foundation. These scholarships will assist graduates of baccalaureate degree programs in science, mathematics, or engineering, or individuals pursuing degrees in those fields, to fulfill the academic requirements necessary to become certified as K-12 teachers. The bill authorizes $20 million for each of the fiscal years 2002, 2003, and 2004.
Udall has hosted worker-training forums in his district, which have included representatives from the University of Colorado, higher education leaders and businesses. Participants in these forums suggested that there is a shortage of skilled high-tech workers to fill the position the new economy has created. Projections indicate that, through this decade, Front Range high-tech companies will be unable to fill 30,000 jobs for skilled workers. The Udall bill grew out of the discussions that took place at these forums.
"With estimates of 240,000 new science and math elementary and secondary teachers needed over the next decade, we must work to provide the incentives now to bring these teachers into our schools," said Udall. "My bill takes some critical steps to help ensure that we can sustain our current economic growth and that our future workforce will be prepared to succeed in our increasingly technologically-based world."