Science, technology, education, and mathematics—collectively known as STEM—are important fields in the twenty-first century and are essential to a modern economy. A great education in these areas is important for today’s students. That said, close to 30,000 STEM teachers leave the profession annually. In addition, because they are such lucrative fields, it’s difficult to recruit new talent to fill those vacated positions. Since early in his administration,
Presidenthas recognized the need for a national effort to improve the United States’ rankings in mathematics and science education. Mr. Obama—in coordination with with over 115 organizations, including the Carnegie Corporation of New York and Opportunity Equation—has set a goal of preparing 100,000 additional STEM teachers over the course of the next decade called “100Kin10.” The coalition has already raised over $22 million in philanthropic donations towards meeting this goal. The 10Kin10 program aims on recruiting top talent in the STEM fields and placing them in high-need, urban school districts.
But what about top talent already in our educational system? A few weeks ago, the White House announced a plan to increase the appeal of the teaching profession to graduates in STEM fields as part of its “Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching (RESPECT)” program. It’s called the STEM Master Teacher Corps and it’s made up of top-notch public school teachers from across the country to serve as examples and inspire their colleagues.
According to Mr. Obama, “If America is going to compete for the jobs and industries of tomorrow, we need to make sure our children are getting the best education possible. Teachers matter, and great teachers deserve our support.”
Fifty teachers from fifty different districts were selected for the initial pilot, but the program plans on expanding to over 10,000 teachers nationwide over the course of the next four years. Participation in the STEM Master Teacher Corps involves a four-year commitment and comes with an annual stipend of up to $20,000 on top of the teacher’s base salary. Initial funding of $100 million will come from the Teacher Incentive Fund and future funding is currently being considered by Congress as part of the Obama administration’s $1 billion 2013 education budget request.
Critics of the plan cite the fact money is not the reason that many talented teachers leave the profession each year. Many schools are under-resourced and rife with bureaucracy that prevents great teaching from happening regardless of the amount of effort on the part of the teacher.
The STEM Master Teacher Corps plans on not only providing financial incentives to remain in the field, but also professional opportunities and engagement. According to, United States Secretary of Education, the U.S. Department of education plans on building a community of outstanding pedagogy amongst its members. Participating teachers will be expected to take on mentoring and leadership roles in their schools and communities as well as convene regularly with other master teachers to swap ideas and best practices.