A Survey of State Initiatives
Oklahoma has not experienced severe shortages in mathematics or science teachers, officials said, but related educational initiatives are under consideration.
Gov. George Nigh last month signed into law a revised version of a bill that will create a committee to study how a specialized high school for math and science could be established.
Representative Penny Williams, the bill's sponsor, said she hoped the new school would be a boarding school that would offer rural students more exposure to some subjects in mathematics and science. "Some of those students can't now take chemistry," she said.
Eugene V. Smith, the science specialist for the department of education, said the state has stopped keeping supply-and-demand figures. "There is a shortage of quality due to the fact that principals will hire people [with minimal qualifications]," Mr. Smith said. "But there is no shortage of teachers."
Mr. Smith also said he did not expect that a shortage would be created by the state education department's recent move to require students to take two years instead of one in both math and science. He said teachers in both subjects would have heavier teaching loads to meet the new standard, which takes effect this fall.
Although there is not a shortage, the state legislature last month passed a resolution asking the state board of regents to create institutes to retrain teachers certified in other subjects to teach math and science. That resolution also urged the legislature to create matching funds for federal programs in math and science education.
In addition, East Central Oklahoma State University will hold inservice-training courses this summer for certified teachers in other fields who wish to earn full certification in chemistry.