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Obama Wants $1 Billion For "Master Teachers Corps" 561

Posted by samzenpus
from the teaching-the-teachers dept.
theodp writes "The White House has unveiled a proposal to create a national elite teachers corps to reward the nation's best educators in science, technology, engineering and math. In the first year, as many as 2,500 teachers in those subjects would get $20,000 stipends on top of their base salaries in exchange for a multiyear commitment to the STEM Master Teacher Corps. The Obama administration plans to expand the corps to 10,000 nationwide over the next four years, with the ultimate goal that the elite group of teachers will pass their knowledge and skills on to their colleagues to help bolster the quality of teaching nationwide."
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Obama Wants $1 Billion For "Master Teachers Corps"

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  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:08AM (#40696461) Journal

    I'm tring to work out from TFA whether this is aimed at recruiting new teachers, or developing existing ones. If it's the former, then there have been various similar schemes (or perhaps it's a single often-rebranded scheme) in the UK over the last decade or so. The focus hasn't always been so narrowly on the STEM subjects, but it has tended to be on "difficult" subjects, where recruitment and retention of teachers is usually difficult (and where pupil uptake and performance has been fastest to decline).

    In fact, I have a friend who works in teaching who got into it via the scheme in one of its various guises. He's fairly open about both its strengths and drawbacks.

    In terms of strengths, he quite openly admits that the salary supplement (which was less than the GBP equivalent of $20,000 when he joined - closer to around $8,000 equivalent) was a very attactive consideration, given that he was graduating with a fair old pile of debt. None of the other career options he was considering would have made it possible for him to move away from the parents and live independently in London quite so quickly. He's also noted that he (and others like him) actually know his subject (maths) to the extent that they can actually field questions from students that go away from the narrow syllabus. He was horrified by how many of his older colleagues were dependant on being allowed to stick to a very narrow syllabus.

    On the other side of the coin, a lot of his intake to the graduate scheme dropped out relatively quickly - within the first year in many cases. The scheme was highly focussed on underperforming schools - which largely tend to be those which have the most severe discipline problems. It's no secret that many classes in those schools are more about crowd control than education. As my friend is the oldest of 6 siblings, he came to this with a natural advantage. By contrast, those who had gotten onto the scheme on the basis of academic ability often simply couldn't cope with the levels of misbehaviour, abuse and violence that are endemic in our less impressive schools and dropped out.

    The other problem revolved around the reactions of other teachers - and particularly the teaching unions - to the scheme members. This is a profession where pay and career advancement had long been (and is still largely expected to be) determined by length of service, rather than performance or potential. Having a bunch of "bright young things" on additional pay and a fast track to Department-head and other management positions went down in most staff-rooms like a cup of cold sick. At the same time, the unions (membership of which is not mandatory, but is widespread) did everything they legally could to make life unpleasant for them. If you find yourself on a "Fast Track" scheme like this, you need to be prepared to be a bit of a staff room pariah.

    So yeah, it's not a bad idea in theory, but expect results in practice to be mixed.

    • by Rei (128717)

      Corps members will lead ongoing professional meetings and teacher development activities; assist their schools and school districts in evaluating and providing feedback to other teachers; and validate and disseminate effective practices to improve STEM instruction.

      Uh oh. People with scientific backgrounds, evaluating my older sister, a grade-school teacher who thinks the moon landing was faked? That could spell trouble for her ;)

      An interesting side effect of this scheme, whether by design or by accident,

      • Corps members will lead ongoing professional meetings and teacher development activities; assist their schools and school districts in evaluating and providing feedback to other teachers; and validate and disseminate effective practices to improve STEM instruction.

        So they will not be paid to teach as much as they will be paid to lead meetings... just what we need in the education system is less teaching and more meetings -not-

        • by Rei (128717)

          *Someone* should be evaluating teachers. Do you want it to be someone who knows what they're talking about or someone who doesn't?

          I know, I know, it's happening during the Obama administration, so it must be a bad idea. But can we get past that for just a second and think about this objectively? Should we be evaluating with people who don't know a darn thing about STEM subjects? Or maybe just with standardized tests? So is it okay if Mrs. Johnson teaches her students that we're all inhabited by body-th

        • by cold fjord (826450) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:58AM (#40696919)

          So they will not be paid to teach as much as they will be paid to lead meetings... just what we need in the education system is less teaching and more meetings -not-

          It really all depends on what you need from the "education" system, doesn't it?

          Teachers’ Unions 101: ‘A’ Is for ‘Agitation’ [nationalreview.com]

    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:44AM (#40696769) Journal

      In terms of strengths, he quite openly admits that the salary supplement (which was less than the GBP equivalent of $20,000 when he joined - closer to around $8,000 equivalent) was a very attactive consideration, given that he was graduating with a fair old pile of debt. None of the other career options he was considering would have made it possible for him to move away from the parents and live independently in London quite so quickly. He's also noted that he (and others like him) actually know his subject (maths) to the extent that they can actually field questions from students that go away from the narrow syllabus. He was horrified by how many of his older colleagues were dependant on being allowed to stick to a very narrow syllabus.

      This is one of the keys - a teacher should know the subject he/she is teaching. Having a teacher who fears/dodges off-syllabus questions is probably quite demotivating for the student. When I was in high school (some decades ago), our maths teacher died suddenly two years before we were due to graduate, and there was "difficulty" finding a replacement. The solution was that two postgrad engineering students did it as part-time jobs. They were great, not just being closer in age to us than the older teachers, but they both knew more than enough maths, were very keen on the subject, and imparted all sorts of unifying insights that weren't on the syllabus then. We had a "real" maths teacher again for the final year of high school, but he made the subject dull again.

      On the other side of the coin, a lot of his intake to the graduate scheme dropped out relatively quickly - within the first year in many cases. The scheme was highly focussed on underperforming schools - which largely tend to be those which have the most severe discipline problems. It's no secret that many classes in those schools are more about crowd control than education. As my friend is the oldest of 6 siblings, he came to this with a natural advantage. By contrast, those who had gotten onto the scheme on the basis of academic ability often simply couldn't cope with the levels of misbehaviour, abuse and violence that are endemic in our less impressive schools and dropped out.

      The second key is the parents, since it is they who will impart the love of learning (or not) at an early age, and provide encouragement (or not) by the way they value their kids' achievements at school. This key is largely missing in the more deprived areas, and consequent problems involving discipline and rejection of authority can be contagious when large numbers of the kids are dismissive of education. It's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem, unless one adopts some kind of dispersal of the kids among other schools whose pupils are more attuned to learning (this is also not without drawbacks, and bussing has a poor reputation in the US).

      The other problem revolved around the reactions of other teachers - and particularly the teaching unions - to the scheme members. This is a profession where pay and career advancement had long been (and is still largely expected to be) determined by length of service, rather than performance or potential. Having a bunch of "bright young things" on additional pay and a fast track to Department-head and other management positions went down in most staff-rooms like a cup of cold sick. At the same time, the unions (membership of which is not mandatory, but is widespread) did everything they legally could to make life unpleasant for them. If you find yourself on a "Fast Track" scheme like this, you need to be prepared to be a bit of a staff room pariah.

      Teachers' unions in the US - good luck with that. Your image of "two teachers one cup" is probably accurate enough as an estimate of their reaction.

      • by thesandtiger (819476) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:42PM (#40701429)

        The thing with parents is that there needs to be parental involvement during the school day, not just at home.

        My sister has my nephews enrolled in a school in her area where one of the requirements is that the parent or parents of each child must attend training sessions (at least one nighht a month) and also spend one school day per month in the classroom providing assistance to the teacher per child they have enrolled.

        The training covers a number of things, but one biggie is classroom management, and another biggie is dispute resolution between teachers and parents. This winds up vastly reducing issues caused by helicopter parents because they have to work with the teachers, not against them, and their children WILL be removed from the school if the parents cause a problem.

        Just the fact of having a second adult in the room - who knows a parent of all the other kids in the room - will cut down hugely on discipline problems. And because the parents get some level of training in ways to assist the teachers, it means that if there is an issue a child has that would normally require a derail of the lesson, it can be handled without throwing things off too much.

        It also means that the teachers can't slack off either - they have a parent there to see what's going on, so it's hard to phone it in which means bad teachers get bounced out fairly quickly.

        It also means that the parents are much more involved at home, which makes for a be improvement in learning.

        Finally, the school itself will have an administrator contact the employers of working parents and arrange for the parents to get the workday off each month to handle things, and in several cases have also gotten the employers to sponsor school events etc.

        Basically, this school does everything they can to make educating the children in the community a true community exercise. It does require a bit of extra administrative burden, but it also reduces the administrative burden with reduced discipline issues and increased learning and retention, requiring material to be re-taught less frequently.

        It's a charter school, though, but I really do think that this kind of thing could be done efficiently and effectively at any school, especially public ones where parental involvement is spotty. Personally, I think if you want to have your child educated in a public school, you should have to do volunteer work like this with the school rather than just dumping your kid off there.

    • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday July 19, 2012 @08:14AM (#40697147)

      I'm tring to work out from TFA whether this is aimed at recruiting new teachers, or developing existing ones. If it's the former, then there have been various similar schemes (or perhaps it's a single often-rebranded scheme) in the UK over the last decade

      There have been in the U.S. too. The National Board Certification program was started here to "make better teachers" and all that. States offered salary bonuses to teachers completing it, it was going to improve our schools, blah, blah. In the end, tons of teachers went through it for the salary bonuses (as much as $10,000/yr extra in some states), ballooning up education budgets across the country--all with absolutely no evidence that Board Certified teachers became any more effective in the classroom. I suspect this new program will be more of the same. Teachers will do it for the extra money, students will see no benefit.

  • by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:10AM (#40696481)
    Obama has been looking for ways to release money into the economy as stimulus. I would much rather see it given to teachers than spent making and expending explosives where brown people live.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Obama has been looking for ways to release money into the economy as stimulus. I would much rather see it given to teachers than spent making and expending explosives where brown people live.

      He's already been doing that since he's been in office with no results. This is just an election ploy to get votes.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:57AM (#40696911) Journal
        In some sense, basically all political activities(save only the occasional throwing-your-career-on-the-grenade 'giving them what they need not what they want' ones) are 'election ploys'.

        However, simply by virtue of that, stating the fact becomes nearly irrelevant to evaluating any politician's suggested program(doing so would be roughly analogous with replacing all reviews of consumer products with 'this is just a ploy to make money', which is pointless; because we want to know about how good they are, not the obvious fact that the seller hopes to profit).

        There are electoral ploys to get votes that also happen to be good ideas(if we are very lucky indeed, they even get votes because they are good ideas...) There are other electoral ploys to get votes that are outright terrible ideas, from essentially every perspective except vote-getting, and then some that consist of taking a side between two irreconcilable interests that have pretty clear upsides for one side and downsides for the other.

        So that leaves us with the more interesting(and difficult) question of whether this program is actually a good one.
    • Like foreign aid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xzvf (924443) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @08:01AM (#40696969)
      One billion to give 2500 teachers a $20K stipend. So it costs $400K per teacher to provide that $20K raise?!!!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Oligonicella (659917)
      The government does not "release" money. There is no great big vault with money waiting in the wings. What happens is they appropriate money from the citizenry, keep a portion for things they won't tell you about and then graciously allow some of it back to citizens (and non) who typically weren't the ones who paid in.

      This money cannot stimulate the economy because it is a net loss.
  • by alen (225700) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:16AM (#40696527)

    almost every "smart" kid at school is that way mostly due to parents making sure he does his work and understands everything

    • by theNetImp (190602)

      Yeah, that's kind of hard for the parents who don't understand things themselves. There are lots of adults who don't understand algebra, yet their kids are in algebra class and need help. Therefore it's up to the teacher to pick up the slack.

      • by DarkFencer (260473) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:33AM (#40696677)

        Though I think it is helpful when the parents know and can help the children, its more than that. Parents who help and encourage their children and create an environment where their children can succeed is more important than anything.

        You can have parents who have very little formal education who can truly be great parents and can help their children do what they didn't/couldn't.

      • by csumpi (2258986)
        Parents don't have to understand algebra to make sure that their kids do their homework, understand the subject, and most importantly respect their teachers. If the parent has no clue about a subject, they can still talk to the teacher and make sure their kid is doing well.

        Here's a personal experience: my daughter, 5, takes violin lessons. I don't know anything about music. I don't play any instruments. I can't read music, although I've done some research and now I can one note at a time figure out the n
    • Parents can make their kids work, but if it's not their subject, it wouldn't really be much more than carrot/stick. A teacher is the one who helps most of the kids to understand and develop themselves in the subject.

      • by Loughla (2531696) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:41AM (#40696749)
        Parents don't have to 'make their kids work,' they have to encourage their kids to work, and teach them the value of an education. I believe that what the poster was trying to say is that if parents don't encourage education, the student won't succeed. That rule stands --regardless of ability--. There's research there - go to ERIC, and search the words 'parental involvement correlation with student achievement'. That's a basic, basic fact about education. Teachers are only glorified babysitters if parents don't teach the kids to value education.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:29AM (#40696633) Homepage

    I can think of many things which would improve the quality of public schools without raising taxes:

    1. Tort reform. Serious, hardcore tort reform at the state level which takes an axe to all of the areas where frivolous lawsuits can be brought would eliminate the argument for any policy that is grounded in the fear of what some idiot might sue over.
    2. End zero tolerance under pain of imprisonment for anyone who punishes a student for acting in self-defense.
    3. Remove any student who is constantly disrupting class. If they become a problem (and don't have a documented mental handicap), simply expel them and kick them out onto the street.
    4. Establish a general policy of erring on the side of pacing the class to the speed of the top 50% of the class, not the bottom 50%. If the bottom cannot keep up, offer them tutoring; if they fail objectively, fail them for the year.

    • 2. End zero tolerance under pain of imprisonment for anyone who punishes a student for acting in self-defense.

      Eh? Are you saying that there is currently zero tolerance of punishing a student who is acting in self defense (with imprisonment as a sentence) and you want to end this? Seriously I don't know what you'r saying here

    • by Loughla (2531696) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:46AM (#40696795)

      Here;s my experience in education talking:

      3. Remove any student who is constantly disrupting class. If they become a problem (and don't have a documented mental handicap), simply expel them and kick them out onto the street.

      If they are a problem, the parents will just get them diagnosed as something. The kid could just be a little shit, and somewhere, someone will diagnose him/her as having oppositional defiance disorder.

      "4. Establish a general policy of erring on the side of pacing the class to the speed of the top 50% of the class, not the bottom 50%. If the bottom cannot keep up, offer them tutoring; if they fail objectively, fail them for the year.

      Tried that once - parents lose their minds. Remember - teachers have a class of 20-40 little special fucking snowflakes to deal with. Most parents believe that their kid is the most special, and that if little Johnny fails the teacher has done something wrong. It is damned near impossible to hold a student back - not because of the school, but because of the parents and their propensity to sue at the drop of a hat.

      • by qbast (1265706)

        [...] and their propensity to sue at the drop of a hat.

        And here you have the root cause of many problems currently plaguing USA.

    • by Thiez (1281866)

      > 4. Establish a general policy of erring on the side of pacing the class to the speed of the top 50% of the class, not the bottom 50%. If the bottom cannot keep up, offer them tutoring; if they fail objectively, fail them for the year.

      So the slowest students would be stuck at some level until enough of them accumulate to drag the speed down significantly and some of them get into the next year, where the same thing would happen again?

    • by benjfowler (239527) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:48AM (#40696813)

      Better yet, put classroom troublemakers into referral units/borstal/whatever to get them the help they need, while letting kids who want to learn get on it without being disrupted.

      And cop to the fact that cleaning up other people's chaotic lives is expensive -- but is just part of the cost of doing business as a civilized society.

      • by couchslug (175151) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @09:50AM (#40698639)

        "And cop to the fact that cleaning up other people's chaotic lives is expensive"

        It is often impossible.Have the courage to write off disruptive and bullying students.

        There is no reason to tolerate a Hellmouth where thugs (be they jock thugs or hood rats or anything else) disrupt the students who are there to learn. Letting the trash abuse and drag down the good students is cruel and unjustifiable.

        The US focuses many resources on low performers when it should be nurturing the best performers instead. Oddly, Americans appreciate SPORTS competition, but don't quite get that supporting our best academic competitors is far more beneficial for society.

    • by hackula (2596247) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @08:37AM (#40697539)
      1) Tiny amount of money would be saved by tort reform, all so that corporations and governments could get away with outrageous injustices with just a slap on the wrist. Most anyone affected by tort has insurance for it anyway.

      2) A teacher acting in self defense against a student will not be punished under the law. What crime are they supposedly being locked up for? Also, this happens to a tiny fraction of teachers. Corporal punishment is a totally different thing, but it is not what you brought up (I do not think it is what you meant, even though you did use the word "punish". wtf does it mean to "punishes a student for acting in self-defense")

      3) I do not want kids to be disrupting class, but do we really want a mob of street kids who got expelled when they were 11 and now have no purpose in life? I don't think so.

      4) So what do we do with people who keep failing? Clearly we need a tiered system where dummies get put with dummies, regulars get put with regulars, and geniuses get put with geniuses. Match the material accordingly so that we do not end up with blocks in the system where kids can never graduate or geniuses being spoon fed nursery rhymes in their senior year of high school. By the way, this is how practically every school in the US is already operated. Some of those high school AP classes are pretty damn difficult. If a student is really that far ahead of their peers, then they should be switched to the more difficult classes. You would have to be 3 standard deviations above average for the AP classes not to provide any challenge, and at that point you can probably graduate early and go be a Doogie Houser because you are a class A genius.

      • by T Murphy (1054674)
        With point 2, I think the parent is talking about zero-tolerance rules for the students, i.e. the victim getting suspended for (reasonably) fighting back.
  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:30AM (#40696649)

    But if they're not going to get rid of the bad teachers then they're just pissing in the wind. Not to mention pissing away a billion dollars.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:31AM (#40696653)
    The term "corps" gives it away. Once they have signed they will realise that they have signed for military service, and due to a change of plans are due to be deployed in Iraq.
  • They "will pass their knowledge and skills on"? Uh, how? Why?

    The other teachers will be sitting in their own classes. They won't be watching the better-paid one. Teachers have work assigned to them, and after they finish they want to go home to their families or run off and get drunk. They are human.

    Getting decent teachers requires two main things. First, the long-term (decades) pay has to look OK. (this isn't long-term) Second, the discipline problems must be solved. A couple bouncers in every classroom mi

  • Teaching excellence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by benjfowler (239527) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:51AM (#40696845)

    From everything I've read about successful education systems, the best systems have one feature in common: world class teachers who are valued, and paid accordingly.

    I think, given what we know right now, this stands a reasonable chance of being a stunning success.

    I think it's a disgrace that teaching isn't as prestigious and hard to get into as law or medicine, given it's extreme importance to the way our societies work.

    • by CptPicard (680154) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @08:12AM (#40697125)

      That's how it is here in Finland; it's pretty difficult to get into a teacher's education, and they all have Master's degrees. Sure, once you are a teacher it's a very steady government job and you also have lots of autonomy, but this tends to foster pride in what they're doing and a desire to do it well.

  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:55AM (#40696895) Journal
    Our Founding Fathers never envisioned a Federal role in public education. Public education is and should be managed on a local/regional level. These attempts to overreach Federal powers need to be stopped.

    Ron Paul 2012 - (even if I have to write him in)
  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @08:23AM (#40697325)
    Teaching is becoming a nasty job. The pay is low, and constantly under political threat. Socially teaching is looked down upon ("those who can't, teach", and "they get the summer off", "they are ruining our kids"). Teachers are under all kinds of pressures: "Teach to the test, even at the expense of your own curriculum!", "Handle larger numbers of kids at a time!", etc. Not to mention the sick urge to over-evaluate and fire teachers, sometimes on crazy-town metrics (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/nyregion/in-brooklyn-hard-working-teachers-sabotaged-when-student-test-scores-slip.html?pagewanted=all).

    Becoming a teacher means embracing low pay, constant criticism, an ever increasing workload, and a political environment aching for more ways to fire you. Ask yourself this: Would you leave your job to teach? As a college student, would you risk making a career of teaching? Would a potential $20k annual bonus in exchange for a multiyear commitment to more work change your mind?
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @08:26AM (#40697373) Journal

    ...that one of the most reliably-Democratic demographics is teachers?
    http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000064 [opensecrets.org]
    http://www.followthemoney.org/database/top10000.phtml?topl=1&topnum=10000 [followthemoney.org]

    NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
    - #1 Contributors to state-level campaigns, political parties, and ballot measure committees in 2007 and 2008
    - donated 2:1 to Democrats over Republicans in state races.
    - donated 25:1 Dems:Repubs in national races since 1990 (the charted dates, but it's been a mainstay of DNC contributors for much, much longer)

  • by AnalogDiehard (199128) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @09:08AM (#40697973)
    Obama has been catering to public unions his entire term and this is just another example of it. His solutions to high unemployment over the years has been to expand the public sector. Besides the political deception that he is "creating jobs", that translates to higher taxes for the rest of us which we can ill afford.

    I live in New York state and the reason we have the highest state taxes is public unions. They hold too much influence in state government and there are too many lawmakers sympathetic to the public unions. Fifteen years ago there were 10 private sector jobs paying for every 1 public sector job, now it is 4 to 1 which has been pushing up taxes. This worsening ratio continues because 1)businesses are leaving the state taking jobs with them and 2) the state keeps expanding the public sector at the expense of the taxpayer. State pensions is another driving force behind high taxes (state employees don't even pay income tax on their PENSIONS). Many state citizens are leaving and soon I will join the exodus. In the last twenty years, only one new business has set up shop in New York state. One!

    There are too many parallels between NYS and Obama's public sector policies. Obama has proven that he is hostile to the private sector by broadening regulations, and the reason businesses are reluctant to hire is because they have had to employ resources just to ensure compliance with the new regulations! Four more years of Obama and businesses will be leaving the country. Obama just doesn't get it and he never will.

    The solution is not to throw $$$ at the problem. The solution is to get the parents involved in their childrens' education.
    • Nice knee-jerk response.

      The problem with it is teacher's (and most other) unions are dead set against merit pay.

      This is not catering to unions.

  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @09:10AM (#40698007) Homepage

    But gee. .what's another billion or two down the sinkhole that is edukation in the US? More money is thrown at and wasted upon schools, teachers and ....gasp... yes the children and what is there to show for it? NOTHING. 60 years of NOTHING. Class sizes are up to 50% smaller, many in the low teens. Effect? ZERO. Electronic teaching 'aides', internet, laptops, tablets... Effect? ZERO. Teacher salaries and benefits into six figures? Effect? Richer teachers.

    Test scores are flatline and have been since the 1960s. But yeah, just keep tossing money at it because there is clearly a 'problem'. If I had the dough I would open a school with a curriculum and teaching practices based upon that used in the 1920s to 1940s. Shocking how the grups can actually do simple math in their heads, write a coherent sentence, are well read and even know quite a bit of world history.

    • I would like to know where you are so I can go teach there. Here the class sizes are going up (I've got around 40 in class at the moment), I don't get a laptops or tablets (though there is a projector and one computer for the teacher in SOME classrooms), and I WISH my salary was six figures. I'm lucky if I make six figures as a total of several years of salaries.

      I guess different states, counties, districts are different, and of course there's differences between high school and post-secondary. But in my ar

  • by deapbluesea (1842210) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:01PM (#40700785)

    We could take a page from the military on this one. If you use a government-backed student loan to get your degree in a STEM subject, you are required to spend a minimum number of years "paying back" as a teacher. You would be salaried at the same rate as any other teacher of the same experience. The difference is that you took a Government loan to get your degree, so you should pay back the nice taxpayers by teaching that subject for X years.

    Assuming the loan is for $80k to begin with, we can give those out "gratis" up front with the understanding that the payback is in teaching time. That would cost the same as what is proposed, but anyone who takes the loan would be under contract to teach for X years. In the end, you're addressing the availability of STEM degrees, availability of student loans, and STEM teacher supply all in one program for probably the cost of just the proposed program. It's just as voluntary, and has the added bonus of (possibly) increasing the number of students going into STEM fields. Throw in merit-based granting and you've got people competing to get a "free" education in STEM, so you know the teachers on the back end should be decent too.

    Of course, the carrot has to have a stick. Something like, if you take the loan and switch degrees out of a STEM field, then you're on the hook for repaying the full cost of the loan. If you can't do the full x years of payback teaching, then you have to repay the loan on a pro-rata basis, etc. This is how military scholarships work, why not do it with STEM as well?

  • by buybuydandavis (644487) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @04:00PM (#40704095)

    I got my PhD in Electrical Engineering. I taught lab sections, quiz sections, and served as the sole instructor (effectively the Professor) for a graduate course on neural networks.

    But I'm "unqualified" to teach math anywhere in K-12. In 5th grade I knew things my math teachers didn't, but after a PhD and teaching graduate level work, I still can't replace the teacher I knew more than when I was in 5th grade.

    The teachers unions are destroying lives, one child at a time.

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