A Survey of State Initiatives

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Earlier this year, the Mississippi legislature enacted measures designed to help increase the number of mathematics and science teachers in the state. According to a survey conducted by the state education department in February, school districts will need an additional 334 math teachers, 162 physics teachers, and 196 chemistry teachers by the end of the 1985-86 school year.

Two "loan-forgiveness" programs for current and prospective teachers in math and science were part of a $106-million package of educational reforms that had been sought by Gov. William Winter for several years. The reform bill was approved by the state legislature and signed into law by the Governor in January.

The legislature also approved $1,000 raises for all state teachers.

One part of the bill passed by the legislature earmarks $900,000 for a new program to retrain teachers during the summer to teach math and science, according to Dollie S. Mosley, a spokesman for the state education department.

Under the program, teachers with certificates in fields other than math or science could apply for loans of up to $1,000 per year (depending on need) to go back to college during the summer to be retrained. They could take up to three summers to complete their retraining, according to Ms. Mosley. In order to obtain a loan, they would have to agree to teach at least one semester in high school for every semester they spend in college being retrained.

In addition, the legislature approved a $300,000 measure designed to attract college students to math and science teaching. College juniors and seniors would be eligible to receive loans of up to $3,000 per year if they enter these fields. To be eligible, the students must agree to teach one semester in a state school for every semester in which they received a state loan.

In August of 1982, the state board of institutions of higher learning approved new college entrance requirements in math, science, English, and social studies. According to Ms. Mosley, students who were high-school freshmen in September 1982 will have to complete three units of both math and science if they plan to enter a state college or university. Currently, the state board of education requires that students complete only one unit of math and one of science in order to graduate from high school.

Vol. 02, Issue 39

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