Gov. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee took another step toward implementing his merit-pay plan, even though the proposal still has not been passed by the state legislature and the 36,000-member Tennessee Education Association opposes it.
Last week, the Governor appointed an 18-member "proposed" interim selection commission that will work out the procedure for selecting "master teachers." Master teachers, according to the new plan, will be a new tier of teachers selected for their ability in the classroom, not for their academic credentials or seniority, and they will receive pay increases of up to $6,000.
The proposed commission has already held its first meeting and appointed four subcommittees, said Betty Long, a state education department spokesman. Some people were surprised when two leaders of the teachers' union, who were ap-pointed to the commission, appeared for the meeting, Ms. Long said.
Legislators considering the bill have received many questions from teachers about how the new group of master teachers would be selected, Ms. Long said. The Governor's decision to create the commission and to start defining the selection system is a way of answering those questions and allowing teachers to join the discussion, Ms. Long said.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has received more than 200 requests for applications for a new internship program that will turn 20 recent college graduates into mathematics and science teachers in 14 months.
"Most of the requests have come from people who are still in college," said Richard J. Clark, associate dean for program planning in the university's school of education.
Mr. Clark said that the university's program represents the first time these students have "seen a program that provides an option--working and looking at teaching without foreclosing the possibility of a career in business and industry."
Most of the people seeking applications say that they otherwise would not have considered teaching, Mr. Clark said.
The "Math-Science-Technology Project" will begin in June and will provide college graduates with degrees in chemistry, mathematics, physics, computer science, and related fields with the opportunity to work as teachers in schools and as paid employees in business firms. They will also participate in courses, seminars, and workshops that will enable them to earn master's degrees in education and be certified to teach.