Shortage Of Top-Notch Math And Science Grads Hampering Rochester Area Business And Job Growth -- Schumer Unveils Groundbreaking National Initiative To Promote Math And Science Education
Sweeping Legislation Would Complement Senators Drive to Make Rochester a National Math and Science Center of ExcellenceStanding At JML Optical, Schumer Announces Math For America Program To Recruit Best And Brightest To Become Math And Science TeachersIn an Ideas Economy, Rochester Needs Homegrown Math and Science Talent in Order to Attract Next Generation Business Pla
With a shortage of topnotch math and science graduates hampering Rochester businesses, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today unveiled a groundbreaking national education initiative to complement his drive to make Rochester a math and science center of excellence. Schumer, standing with Rochesters commercial and education leaders said the United States is falling behind other nations in math and science, and said for Rochester, upstate New York and all of America to stay on top, it is essential we improve math and science education immediately. His legislation would essentially create a peace corps for teachers by providing incentives for young people to teach in underserved schools.
For the first time in generations, a young person in the Upstate New York doesnt may not have look elsewhere to start a high tech career. There are opportunities right here in the Rochester area but the question remains: Will they have the skill sets necessary to take full advantage of this new economy? Right now our children are lagging behind and we must act quickly before it is the businesses that start to look elsewhere.
The U.S. National Science Foundation cites that hightech industry employment grew by 50 percent between 1990 and 2002, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that U.S. demand for science and engineering workers will grow at least three times as fast as the overall economy in the next ten years.
Going back to the opening of the Erie Canal, continuing with growth of Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch and Laumb into international technology companies, Rochester has been at the cutting edge of industry in the United States. Today, Rochester is still a major science and technology center and is well positioned to develop into a globally recognized leader in science based industry. Rochester was ranked 1st among 125 cities in the world for patent registration, according to the World Knowledge Competitiveness Index 20032004, and 1st for utility patents issues per 1,000 workers according to the New Economy Index.
Schumer said that as the workforce economy changes, our education focus must change with it. Ten years ago, 23 percent of Rochester area jobs were in manufacturing. Today, it's 14 percent and dropping. During this decline, heavy manufacturing jobs are being replaced by highend technology jobs. In order for Rochester to compete for these new industries, the city must churn out younger workers who have the skills and educations necessary to take on these jobs. Otherwise, growing companies will look elsewhere to start their businesses and grow.
Schumer also cited a recent report by the New York State Department of Education as proof positive that the federal government needs to step in and help train better teachers. Rochesters percentages of courses that are taught by teachers who arent highly qualified exceeded state averages at all elementary, middle and high school levels.
Schumer said that his federal legislation would perfectly complement his efforts to create a Math and Science Center of Excellence at Nazareth College. While the Center of Excellence would foster math and science education at the local and state level, Schumers legislation would divert much needed resources to attract younger men and women to the teaching profession. Schumer, who launched this effort one year ago in February 2006, said that he looked forward to the appointment of the centers first director and would continue to fight to expand this vital program.
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. In exchange for a fouryear teaching commitment, MSTC will provide teaching certification in a oneyear masters program for individuals who are highly skilled in math and science.
Retention strategies will include districtlevel mentoring, professional development, and federal financial incentives. Under MSTC, current teachers will commit to teaching for five years and serve as leaders in their school, mentor new teachers and participate in professional development. They will also receive federal financial incentives to keep them from leaving the classroom for the private sector.
MSTC is based on three unique tenets:
1. National Standards for Participation. All applicants, whether aspiring or working teachers, must perform at a satisfactory level on a National Academy of Scienceapproved standardized test of subject knowledge. In addition to strong knowledge of subject matter, candidates must demonstrate strong verbal skills as well as other attributes that are linked to effective teaching.
2. Financial Incentives. During their years in the program, all corps members will receive stipends from the federal government in addition to their regular salaries. New teachers stipends will begin at $11,000 and scale up to $20,000 during their four year teaching period, while working teachers stipends will be set at $20,000 per year. Corps members teaching in hardtostaff schools may receive enhanced stipends.
3. Building Prestige and Respect Through a National Program. As members of a teacher corps, participants will experience a high level of enthusiasm and solidarity. In addition, the highly visible teacher corps will build prestige and respect for the field of math and science teaching.
The Presidents State of the Union address highlighted this need, but Senator Schumer and Congressman Saxton think Congress needs to go a step further. The Presidents program would spend $25 million on math and science teachers, but would primarily aim to bring math and science professionals in to schools as adjunct teachers. MSTC, however, will invest in 20% of the teacher population once it has fully ramped up, and will integrate math and science experts as fulltime teaching staff who will be an integral part of the school community even as they provide toprate teaching.
MSTC is based on a successful program in New York City called the Newton Fellowship Program, which is operated by a nonprofit organization called Math for America.
Schumer will be joined by Mike McCusker, Sr. VP, JML Optical, Matt Hurlbutt, Exec. Dir., Rochester Works, Daan Braveman, President, Nazareth College, Christopher Dahl, President, SUNY Geneseo, Ellen Rosen, VP, Rochester Business Alliance
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