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.
That undertaking, organized through the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, will devote $16.7 million over a five-year period to teacher training. It is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Teachers will receive stipends of $30,000 to complete a master’s degree in education and commit to teaching for three to five years in disadvantaged schools. As many as 240 teachers are expected to receive stipends during that time 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 of their own funding 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 narrowing the traditionally standoffish point of view between those two academic programs. As it now stands, many math and science majors leave campus without ever having considered teaching. And those that do teach are uncertain how to apply the math and science skills they’ve learned in a classroom setting. The Woodrow Wilson program is not the only one to take an interest in closing this divide. The UTeach program also seeks to build better relations between different academic programs. A major initiative is under way to replicate the UTeach approach on campuses nationwide.
Even before its Michigan effort gets started, the Woodrow Wilson fellowship program had already been operating 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 news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.