A Survey of State Initiatives
Colorado currently needs about 100 more mathematics teachers and about 20 more physics and chemistry teachers, according to Arvine C. Blome, assistant state commissioner for federal relations and special projects.
One reason for the shortage is that 20 of the 181 districts have increased their graduation requirements in these subjects and are looking for more highly trained teachers. In Colorado, individual districts set their own graduation standards.
Waivers for unqualified teachers to teach in these fields are issued for one year only, according to state regulations, and the state does not plan to relax this rule despite the shortages, Mr. Blome said.
No legislation addressing the shortage moved out of committee in the state legislature this year. However, Gov. Richard D. Lamm this spring created a "Statewide Education Task Force" to study the findings of recent national education reports and to make recommendations to Colorado's 1984 legislature, said Phil Fox, a spokesman for the Governor. One area of study will be the shortage of math and science teachers, he added.
The state board of education has also appointed task forces for each subject; they are to review national reports on education, course content, graduation requirements, college admission standards and teacher shortages. The math task force was scheduled to report its findings this month.
Although there is much discussion about partnerships between universities and schools, the only program in place so far is one involving the Colorado School of Mines and Cherry Creek School District No. 5 near Denver. This program will bring several students from the School of Mines to teach a few hours a day in the Cherry Creek High School under the supervision of the physics department.
The program is open to engineering students interested in shifting to a teaching career. Cherry Creek is a college-oriented high school that offers about 40 courses in physics and chemistry, said Daniel Van Gorp, chairman of the Cherry Creek science department.
The state legislature in May created the Colorado Advanced Technology Institute, which will have a membership drawn from industry and education. The institute's purposes include the promotion of more education and research programs in the field of high technology and the improvement of teacher education in all fields, including math and science, officials said. Another of the new group's responsibilities will be to ensure that school computer curricula are matched with the needs of industry.
Of the nearly 200 school districts in the state, only three now require some kind of computer-literacy course for graduation.