FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 3, 2007
Schumer: Expanding Nyc-Based 'Math For America' Program Will Recruit Hundreds Of Talented Math And Science Professionals To Teach
New Fellowship Will Recruit the Best and Brightest to Serve in an Elite Teaching Corps, Encourage More Young People to Study Math and Science
Bill Helps Pioneering New York Program Go National—NYC Program Alone Will Support at Least 440 Teachers By 2011
Program Will Foster a New Generation of Math and Science Students to Help America Compete in the Global Economy
Today, Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the National Science Foundation (NSF) Teaching Fellowship program, based on his “Math for America” model, is one step closer to becoming law. Yesterday, both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the bill’s conference report which included two programs: the National Science Foundation (NSF) Teaching Fellows program and the NSF Master Teaching Fellows program, both based on Schumer’s Math for America, a proposal to improve high school math and science education by encouraging recruitment and retention of talented and dedicated math and science teachers. The President is expected to sign the bill into law.
“This bill is about paving the way for the future,” Schumer said. “The advance of technology means that increasingly, our children will be competing for jobs with people from all over the world. Our biggest problem is that students in the U.S. are lagging behind in math and science, and the needs of the high-tech, math and science-based industries are expected to continue to grow over the next decade. The best way to ensure that we will be able to meet these needs is to recruit top math and science talent to teach in our schools. This fellowship will provide incentives to the best and brightest scientists and mathematicians to teach in our public schools, and encourage a new generation of students to learn the skills they will need to compete globally.”
In 2003, a PISA math assessment comparing 15-year-old students in the U.S. to those in 28 other countries showed disturbing results: out of the 29 participating countries, the U.S. ranked 24th. Furthermore, according to the U.S. National Science Foundation, employment in the high-tech industry grew by 50 percent between 1990 and 2002, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for science and engineering workers in America will grow at least three times as fast as the overall economy in the next ten years. The U.S. currently does not have enough science and engineering specialists to fulfill the needs of the high-tech industry.
Prospective teachers with strong math and science backgrounds, as well as working teachers who have solid expertise in their fields, are often lured away from teaching by more lucrative and prestigious opportunities in the private sector. As members of this national initiative, participants will create an environment of enthusiasm and solidarity, enhanced by the prestige of their fellowship and the financial incentives it will provide.
The goal of the program is to create a corps of highly qualified math and science teachers, ensuring that students across the country receive the best preparation possible in these most vital fields.
Math for America is the brainchild of Dr. James H. Simons, an MIT and Berkeley trained mathematician who has conducted research and taught at SUNY Stony Brook, Princeton, MIT and Harvard. Modeled after Dr. Simons’ successful New York-based program by the same name, Schumer’s bi-partisan proposal as included in the COMPETES Act would create two programs: NSF Teaching Fellows program and the NSF Master Teaching Fellows Program. The first fellowship is available to math and science professionals, while the second is designed for existing teachers who already hold a masters degree in math or science education. Both fellowships require applicants to go through a highly rigorous application process to demonstrate their expertise.
If selected to the NSF Teaching Fellows program, professionals receive a scholarship to attend a one-year Master’s degree program in education that results in certification. They then commit to teaching for four years in a high-need school, and receive bonus payments on top of their salaries. Existing teachers receiving fellowships will get the bonus payments in return for serving for at least five years and acting as leaders in their schools.
Schumer's provisions in the COMPETES Act are based on his bipartisan Math and Science Teaching Corps Act, which he introduced last year with Congressman Jim Saxton. It is modeled after a highly successful program in New York City called Math for America, which currently operates a similar program at a local level.
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