By Courtney Sims |Staff Writer|
California State Universities push President Obama’s initiative by providing over 1,500 math and science teachers over the next three years.
The STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) initiative, constructed by the Obama Administration calls for an $80 million demand for the U.S. Department of Education.
STEM is an integrated approach to science, technology, engineering and math.
It uses project-based learning to engage students, teach higher-level problem-solving skills and build learners for life according to Learning.com.
The nation’s recent rankings for education compared to other countries suggest a need for education reform, which the administration is pushing while Obama is in office. Members from the U.S. Department of Education find the program to play a crucial role in the development of the country’s youth, allowing them to compete with other countries like China and India.
“STEM programs are absolutely essential if the U.S. wants to stay globally competitive and innovative,” said Nathan Carter, U.S. Department of Education researcher. “The lack of interest in STEM subjects, particularly for minorities, is a national problem that has major impacts on students’ ability to acquire high-skill, high-wage and high-demand jobs,” continued the former college professor.
According to a survey by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), American students rank 68 percent in math and 45 percent in science.
Officials for the CSU are excited about the program and are well aware of financial worth in private sectors for math and science based careers.
“Science and math majors typically have a lot of career options open to them that pay better than teaching,” said Beverly Young, director of Teacher Education and Public School Programs for the CSU office. “The more you invest in your education, the more you want to ensure the career you choose makes that investment worthwhile,” she stated on the CSU website.
The recent budget cuts to higher education in California have had crippling effects on students as well as the teachers, making it difficult to accommodate the new initiative.
On the local level, one CSU instructor has growing concerns about the reality of the program and what it means for the system’s budget.
“The hardest part right now is getting off the ground because of finances,” said Catherine Spencer, CSUSB math education instructor. “If you’re a multiple- subject teacher without a job, where do you get the money for program?” She continued.
Students on all levels of education are also backing the president’s initiatives, citing personal struggles in math and science.
“If the government wants to fund a program that will give me better teachers, then I am all for it,” said Jessica Shultz a high school senior in Riverside. “I’ve always struggled in math and science, so it’s nice to know there are programs to help.”
An additional $22 million for the STEM program will be made available through charitable foundations as wells as private sectors.
STEM teachers that complete the program will be required to teach high school for a three year minimum as well as a receive dual certification for the program, requirements vary by CSU institution.
“We [CSUSB] are a pilot program, we are able to make changes as we go, that makes our department uniquely qualified to teach in schools that consider themselves a STEM academy,” said Spencer.