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A Survey of State Initiatives

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Gov. Bruce E. Babbitt of Arizona has been lobbying hard for improvements in mathematics and science education. In April, the state legislature appropriated $400,000 for the Arizona Board of Regents to support several of his priorities, including:

$250,000 for special math and science institutes at state universities to help elementary and secondary teachers update their teaching skills and keep abreast of developments in their fields.

$100,000 for a loan program for people who are either seeking their initial teaching credential in math or science or who have other teaching credentials and want to retrain in math and science.

The program has a provision allowing "loan forgiveness" in exchange for teaching, but the details of this arrangment have yet to be worked out, according to Odus V. Elliot, associate director for academic programs for the Arizona board of regents.

$50,000 for scholarships to help send gifted high-school students to special summer programs in math and science offered at state universities. The scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit and need.

Gov. Babbitt wants each of the state's major universities--asu, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University (nau)--to develop special math and science centers.

A "matching grant" program to establish endowed professorships in science, math, or engineering at the Arizona universities. Under the program, the state will accumulate corporate donations for two years and begin matching them in 1985.

According to Thomas R. Reno, associate superintendent in the Arizona department of education, there is "definitely a shortage of math and science teachers, but we don't really have numbers. As we get closer to 1987, we expect the impact to grow," mainly because of the increased graduation requirements that go into effect for the senior class of 1987.

In February, the Arizona state board of education increased the minimum high-school graduation requirements from one to two years of math, and from one to two years of science, in addition to other changes. And in May, the Arizona board of regents voted to require students entering state universities in the fall of 1987 to have, among other requirements, three years of math (algebra or above) and two years of laboratory science.

The board of education has adopted a "skill-based teacher certification program" that requires "basic computer knowledge" for state teacher certification.

The Governor sought, but failed, to have the school year extended from 175 to 180 days. He also failed to persuade the legislature to include $100,000 in the department of education budget to finance pilot experiments with "differential pay" for math and science teachers in selected districts.

The Governor has recently appointed "The Committee for Quality Education"--a commission of 19 people from education and business that will examine all facets of Arizona education in light of recent national reports on the condition of American education.

The commission--which will be chaired by the former president of the University of Arizona, John P. Schaefer--is supposed to report by October 31, 1983.

The Free Enterprise Task Force, a group created late last year by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Carolyn Warner, has recommended that the state develop a special certification status to allow noncertified people with "obvious expertise in math or science" to teach in public schools.

More than 50 people from business, industry, and education served on the committee.

nau is in the second summer of a program aimed at helping teachers to gain recertification in math. The program provides 20 to 22 hours of secondary math-education training over the course of two summers, according to Michael Ratliff, chairman of the math department at nau

This summer, the University of Arizona math department also began two special courses on microcomputers for elementary and secondary teachers.

asu will also be involved in retraining teachers for math and science teaching.

The Arizona education department surveys computer use in schools, assists local districts in arranging discounts on computer purchases, and conducts "computer-awareness" workshops for teachers.

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