To the Editor:
I enthusiastically read your insightful and informative article “Scientists Nurture Teachers’ Growth in Math and Science” (Nov. 28, 2007). It describes a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy that allows middle and high school teachers to train with federal scientists during their summer breaks.
This is the type of innovative government program that could help raise students’ interest in math and science. As both a college president and a professor of mathematics education, I see that many students who fail to develop an early interest in math and science end up falling behind.
This important federal program should be expanded to include summer internships for students. They would gain valuable science skills, and perhaps develop a lifelong interest in the field, from working with scientists. Teachers’ training would also benefit from the opportunity to observe student learning.
The Energy Department program is an instructive model for math and science education. If American students are going to be competitive in the global economy, they must strengthen their abilities in these areas. To ensure that all students have the requisite skills to succeed, the U.S. Department of Education, higher education institutions, and school system leaders must work together to produce trained teachers and prepared students.