Math and science teachers in Michigan will be eligible for stipends to pay for their master’s-degree training if they commit to working in high-need schools, thanks to a new project backed with millions of dollars in philanthropic support.
The undertaking, organized through the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, will devote $16.7 million over five years to teacher training. It is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, based in Battle Creek, Mich.
Teachers will receive stipends of $30,000 to complete a master’s degree in education and agree to teach for three to five years in disadvantaged schools. As many as 240 teachers are expected to receive stipends during the five-year period. College seniors, recent graduates, and career-changers are eligible.
The goal of the program is not only to improve K-12 teaching, but also to revamp teacher education at the university level. Michigan universities that take part in the program are each expected to chip in $500,000 and redesign their programs by establishing a “collaborative relationship” between their schools of arts and sciences—typically home to math and science majors—and their schools of education. Many university officials and researchers have shown an increased interest in ending the traditional standoffishness of those two parts of academe toward each other.
As it now stands, many math and science majors leave campuses around the country without ever having considered teaching. And those who do teach are uncertain how to apply the skills they’ve learned in a classroom setting, many observers have said.
The Woodrow Wilson program is not the only one to take an interest in closing that divide. The UTeach program at the University of Texas at Austin also seeks to build better relations between different academic programs. A major initiative is under way to replicate the UTeach approach on campuses nationwide.
The Woodrow Wilson fellowship program, based in Princeton, N.J., already operates a math- and science-stipend program in Indiana. Four universities in that state are taking part. That project is being independently evaluated by the Urban Institute, a research institution in Washington, according to the Wilson program.
A version of this article appeared in the November 18, 2009 edition of Education Week as Project Offers Teacher Scholarships