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A Survey of State Initiatives

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The Maine legislature recently failed to act on a bill that would have provided incentive grants for the preparation of mathematics and science teachers and for the further training of teachers who teach math and science but are not fully qualified.

That bill was tabled in favor of another bill--which had been approved by the legislature but was still unsigned by Gov. Joseph E. Brennan as of late last month--authorizing the speaker of the House and the president of the Senate to establish a 21-member state commission on excellence in education. Members of the committe would be selected from all levels of the education community, according to Greg Scott, legislative liaison for the state department of education.

Douglas A. Stafford, science consultant for the department of education, said the department, however, hopes to revive the incentive-grants bill or to submit a similar one during the next legislative session. The department surveyed more than 35 school supervisors and found that more than half of them were having difficulty hiring or retaining chemistry, physics, and science teachers. He said the state department is not now providing any funds for local districts to support inservice training for teachers teaching out of their areas of certification.

Two state education schools are experimenting with teacher-training programs designed to alleviate future shortages of teachers in the state. The University of Southern Maine, one of the two, is initiating--with the approval of the state board of education--a program that recruits teacher candidates from outside the teaching profession.

The six-month program, which is described as a radical departure from traditional teacher-training programs, is seeking individuals interested in a mid-career change. Its officials say they are rigorously screening candidates to find those individuals with the social, emotional, and intellectual characteristics to be good teachers.

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