In a op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Jim Simons, a mathematician and the founder of Math for America, says that math instruction in the United States is in crisis—at a time, no less, when our “economic well-being ... is dependent on math and science"—and argues for the creation of a National Math/Science Master Teacher Corps:
Selection would be based on subject knowledge, as measured by a nationally administered exam, and on evidenced skill in teaching and inspiring students. During their five-year renewable terms, members would receive annual federal stipends boosting their regular salaries roughly 25 percent, participate in corps activities, and act as leaders in their departments and schools. The corps would initially aim to comprise 5 percent of the nation's 450,000 teachers of math and science, and grow to as much as 20 percent. These able, knowledgeable individuals would inspire students and colleagues, and at maximum size this transformational program would cost roughly $2 billion per year. America could make no better investment.
I attended a very interesting presentation by Simons last year in which he recalled talking to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) about this idea. On hearing the $2 billion figure, he said Reid responded, “That’s the cost of one bomber. ...”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.