A Survey of State Initiatives
In 1983, all of the state colleges and universities in Georgia graduated a total of 67 mathematics teachers and 81 science teachers, according to the state education department's office of teacher recruitment. Between September 1982 and March 1983, the state issued provisional or probationary teaching certificates in math and science to a total of 785 teachers who either did not have teaching certificates or were certified in areas other than the two disciplines.
In order to address this problem, the state legislature this spring passed a measure to finance "forgivable loans" for students planning careers in those fields.
According to William Gamble, legislative liaison for the state education department, the program, which was funded at $135,000 this year, will be administered by the state student-finance commission. College juniors and seniors who have declared majors in either math or science education would be eligible to receive loans totaling $1,500 per year.
To have their loan forgiven, Mr. Gamble said, students must teach one year in a state school for every year that they received the tuition aid. Mr. Gamble said the program is expected to increase "significantly" the supply of math and science teachers in the state.
Other potential solutions to the teacher shortage are likely to be discussed during the deliberations of a newly-created "Governor's Education Review Commission."
Last month, Governor Joe Frank Harris, following through on a pledge he made while campaigning for office, named the members of the panel, which will study the status of education in the state and recommend standards to improve its quality.
Ten of the panel's 40 members are state legislators. The rest are parents, educators, administrators, and businessmen.
The panel, which will issue its first report by the end of the year and its final report by the end of 1984, is expected to address questions such as differential pay for math and science teachers and higher graduation requirements for high-school students.
The state board of education, meanwhile, has already started exploring the possibility of increasing minimum high-school graduation requirements in math and science. Currently, students must take at least one unit of math, one unit of science, and an additional unit of either math or science in order to graduate. Mr. Gamble said it is likely that the board will recommend that students take at least two units in both.
Teachers and administrators are expected to benefit from a new "computer literacy" project being piloted by the education department and Mercer University. The project, which began on July 1, will bring superintendents, principals, and teachers to the university for sessions on how to use computers in their day-to-day operations, according to Robert K. Mabry, director of postsecondary instruction for the state education department. The teachers and principals will then go back to their home schools and offices and train other people in the use of computers. Much of the equipment for the program has been donated by industries, he said.
The state board of education, which is responsible for vocational and technical training at the postsecondary level, recently authorized a new associate-degree program in applied technology, Mr. Mabry said. Pilot programs have been established at three of the state's vocational-technical centers.