A Survey of State Initiatives
According to officials of the Washington Education Association, no figures are available on teacher shortages in the state, but the state legislature is gearing up for shortages expected within the next five years.
In May, lawmakers passed a bill that sets up forgivable loans for students who have declared mathematics or science education as their major, who meet the state requirements for need, and who maintain a 3.0 grade average.
The loans are for undergraduate students and teachers returning to obtain their master's degree in math or science education. Each student will be eligible for a maximum of $2,500 a year for two years.
Under the state-operated program, 10 percent of the loan is deducted for each year a teacher spends in a middle, junior high, or high school in the state. If a teacher teaches for 10 years, the loan is entirely forgiven.
Gov. John Spellman signed the bill in mid-June; the funds should be available by the fall.
The Governor has also signed another bill that will establish the Washington High Technology Education and Training Act.
Part of the $2.24 million appropriated for the program will be used to establish regional computer demonstration centers in five districts in the state. The centers will be run by people either with a computer background or who have used technology in the schools. The centers will allow districts to review hardware and software before purchasing it, serve as training sites for teachers and administrators, and be available for some student training if the district does not have its own program.
"The centers will benefit the remote areas the most; where they don't have the programs or the information base for purchasing," a spokesman said. The centers should be in operation by Jan. 1, 1984.
The act will also help support the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, which develops programs for teachers and students in math, science, and computer education. The center operates computer and science vans that travel to remote areas.
An appropriation of $35,000 will go to the state's inservice programs for teachers of math, science, and computer education. Districts assess their needs and apply to the state for these funds.
In May, the state board of education voted to raise the minimum number of credits required for graduation from 45 to 48--a move that doubled the math requirement from 3 to 6 credits, which is the equivalent of two years, and tripled the science requirement from 2 to 6 credits, or two years.
The upgraded standards are "only the first step in a series of changes," according to Frank B.Brouillet, state superintendent of public instruction, who said that next year the board will discuss determining minimum competencies to be achieved at all grade levels. In addition, the board may increase the number of credits required for graduation to 60, Mr. Brouillet said.