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Schumer Initiative On Math And Science Education Passes Senate

'Math for America,' Schumer Bill to Bolster Education by Recruiting Best and Brightest to Become Math and Science Teachers, Wins Passage

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer welcomed Senate passage of "Math for America," an initiative Schumer authored and that was included in the America COMPETES Act with support from Senator Hillary Clinton. Included as part of a broader bill to improve America's competitiveness, Math for America will improve math and science education by bolstering recruiting and retention efforts for math and science teachers.

"America's hightech industry is booming across the country, including in places like Upstate New York that faced economic downturn for so long," Schumer said. "There are opportunities for careers in the hightech field right in our backyards, but the question is: do students graduating have the skill sets necessary to take full advantage of this new economy? The answer for too many is: no. Our students are lagging behind in math and science education and the best way we can change this is by recruiting top math and science talent to teach in our schools."

According to the U.S. National Science Foundation, employment in the hightech 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.

Schumer's bipartisan legislation would create two separate programs: the National Science Foundation (NSF) Teaching Fellows program and the NSF Masters 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 take a highly rigorous test to demonstrate their expertise. If selected, professionals receive a scholarship to attend a oneyear Master's degree program in Teaching that results in certification. They then commit to teach for four years in a highneed school, and receive bonus payments on top of their salaries. Existing teachers receiving fellowships will get the bonus payments in return for acting as leaders in their schools. 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 experience a high level of enthusiasm and solidarity, enhanced by the prestige of their fellowship and the financial incentives it provides. The goal of the program is to create a new flood of highly qualified math and science teachers, ensuring that students across the country receive the best preparation possible in these most vital fields.

Schumer's legislation is 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 carries out these activities on a local scale.