Temple announced the receiving of a national grant last Monday that will boost enrollment in teacher training.
The new program calls for continued and increased collaboration between the College of Education and the College of Science and Technology.
The grant of up to $2.4 million is courtesy of the National Math and Science Initiative, a non-profit organization formed in response to the severe shortage of math and science educators in the United States.
Hai-Lung Dai, dean of CST, said the shortage jeopardizes America’s global position as an economic leader.
“We have to do a better job in science and math education way before college. Many teachers are teaching out of field, and even though they want to do a good job – they can’t,” he said.
Heidi Ramirez, director of Temple’s Urban Education Collaborative, spent a few days in Texas learning about the project. She assumed the role of writing a competitive proposal for Temple, which was selected, she said, because of the university’s commitment to the community.
“We have a real opportunity to educate the underrepresented – particularly students of color,” Ramirez said.
Among the 52 universities that submitted proposals, 12 were chosen.
Dai said Temple was selected because there is a common acknowledgement of the shortage in qualified educators, particularly in this region.
“We are the largest provider of teachers in Philadelphia,” he said.
“I think the funder thought the investment would immediately address the goal of the foundation which is to boost the number of teachers,” David E. Kanter, assistant professor in the psychology department, said. “We’re a place that both needed to boost the numbers and also have the infrastructure in place that would allow us to take advantage of their funding.”
Of the more than 3,000 math and science majors at Temple, students who intend to teach earn degrees in both their content area of study and in teaching by participation in a five-year program.
Both Ramirez and Kanter said the strong relationship between Temple’s College of Education and CST was attractive to NMSI.
Kanter said the goal of the new program, named TUTeach, is to serve as an alternative to the five-year program. It is fashioned after the UTeach program at the University of Texas at Austin, which certifies 70 new teachers each year with more than 90 percent entering classrooms directly after graduation.
“It’s a hard sell for most families to provide a fifth year of tuition,” Kanter said.
Awareness of the program is integral in its success in attracting participants. Dai said it’s the adviser’s responsibility to inform freshman of the program’s existence.
“There is a small incentive in terms of scholarship to the student as well as working with master teachers who have taught previously in high schools,” Dai said, noting that some master teachers might be retired from the School District of Philadelphia.
Teachers returning from retirement are part of the problem, said Rahman Price, an instructional assistant who teaches middle and high school students at Community Education Partners at Hunting Park.
“I think this opportunity would mean a lot to young professionals who have a knack for teaching that may be able to relate better to the issues the youth are facing today,” he said.
Teaching may be rewarding in some ways, but the pay to start is not.
One half of kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers earns $80,000, said Dai, who said teaching is a bad fiscal decision for math and science majors.
Upon graduation, students can apply for Pennsylvania teaching certifications, and they will receive Bachelor of Science degrees in their respective content areas.
Trudy Steigerwalt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.