To the Editor:
We are heartened by President Barack Obama’s recent announcements underscoring his administration’s commitment to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, teaching (“President Unveils Projects to Boost Teaching of STEM Subjects,” Jan. 20, 2010). With the need for 280,000 new math and science teachers by 2015 (as projected by the Business-Higher Education Forum), nothing less than the nation’s future global competitiveness rests on our ability to think outside the box about how to recruit, prepare, and support STEM teachers.
Forward-thinking corporations such as IBM have realized the value of actively encouraging professionals with experience in STEM fields who desire a career change to make the transition into teaching. These highly skilled professionals can bring valuable expertise, insight, and passion to the classroom, to help prepare and cultivate students for undergraduate and graduate studies in these fields and future work in related professions.
Many would-be career-changers need nontraditional programs to entice them into teaching, and, more and more, alternative-certification programs are addressing this need. The time is right to seek more innovative partnerships between the corporate, government, and education sectors to “STEM the tide” of teacher shortages.
Strong support for these goals from the president and the U.S. Department of Education is a welcome first step.
Educator Workforce Recruitment and Transition to Teaching Programs
Georgia Professional Standards Commission
The writer is the president of the National Association for Alternative Certification, with headquarters in Washington.
A version of this article appeared in the January 27, 2010 edition of Education Week as Alternative Routes Needed For New STEM Teachers