A Survey of State Initiatives
North Carolina legislators included in the state's budget measures to provide loans for prospective mathematics and science teachers and to increase the amount of time that students spend in school.
The legislature is still considering bills that would establish a flexible tuition scale for students of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and provide financial incentives to encourage teachers to earn advanced degrees in math and science.
According to the division of teacher certification in the department of public instruction, the state is experiencing shortages in all mathematics subjects and all science subjects except biology. Officials term the shortages "critical" in chemistry, physics, and math.
A summer training and employment program for math and science teachers, which was proposed by Gov. James B. Hunt Jr., went into operation last month. The legislature is considering the Governor's request for $1.1 million to pay the expenses.
This summer, 500 teachers from other fields will take inservice courses to work toward certification as math and science teachers; 300 math and science teachers are being offered summer employment in the schools; and 100 math and science teachers will receive $1,000 scholarships to "upgrade their training."
Governor Hunt has been a leading proponent of improving math and science education to improve the state's economic standing. He is chairman of the National Task Force on Education for Economic Growth, a group created by the Education Commission of the States.
A measure passed this month authorizes the North Carolina Education Assistance Authority to grant college loans to prospective math and science teachers. Those loans, which would cover all college expenses for 200 students, would be forgiven if the recipients taught for eight years in the state's schools.
Another bill would establish tuition rates--based on the family's ability to pay--for students at the math and science high school in Durham. The state does not now charge tuition for enrolling at the magnet school.
A Senate bill introduced last month would appropriate $1.5 million to enable teachers to pursue advanced degrees.
The legislature is also expected to pass a resolution that would direct the legislative research committee to study the way computers should be used in the schools.