Growing educators for math, science

Recruiting more math and science teachers has long been a critical need in Virginia - the state needs more than the 10 fully licensed physics teachers it produced in 2011 to keep kids learning.

Old Dominion University has become the first college in Virginia to use state grant money and a program started in Texas to induce more math and science majors to take their skills to Virginia's classrooms. That's a smart, scientific approach to growing our own educators, better teaching our kids and preparing them for college or careers.

MonarchTeach will receive nearly $700,000 over two years from money set aside by the General Assembly in 2012 to recruit students for the Math and Science Teacher Education Reform Initiative.

ODU hopes to enroll up to 20 students in the program beginning in August, with incentives that include free tuition for two of the required teaching courses. Those who graduate from the four-year MonarchTeach program beginning in the spring of 2017 will leave the university with degrees in math and science along with Virginia teaching licenses.

In Texas, the UTeach program founded at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997 saw tremendous success over the course of a decade in training more of its graduates to teach in math and science fields - 746 educators since the program began. According to UTeach, 88 percent of the Austin program's graduates become teachers. After five years, about 80 percent remain in schools.

In 2006, the university founded the UTeach Institute to help other schools re-create that success. It has spread to 35 colleges and universities across the country, and those programs have helped to train another 410 math and science educators.

Mary Enderson, associate professor of math education at ODU, said the school's college of education already produces many of Virginia's teachers. MonarchTeach course curriculum will be geared to those who want to teach in math and science fields. Students will get help from mentors to ensure prospective teachers learn the skills they need to succeed in the classroom, Enderson said.

Helping more Monarchs teach more Virginia kids in science, technology, engineering and math solves two problems at once - getting more teachers in the pipeline and providing better education to our kids. That's good for everyone in the commonwealth.

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This deals with the superficial aspects

For decades, the proper response to this problem is to teach more (and better) math and science from the first grade onward. Then you have a much larger pool of people who can become science teachers.

Instead, we have allowed inferior methods to become commonplace in the public schools. Rigorous programs such as Saxon Math and Singapore Math are demonstrably superior to the dysfunctional curricula often used, for example, Constructivist Math, Everyday Math, TERC, Core-Plus, and many other variations on a bad theme known as Reform Math or New New Math (this being an allusion to the disastrous New Math).

All of this stuff is limiting the nation’s math skills, which in turn inhibits enthusiasm for advanced math and science courses.

There are many articles on the internet explaining the failure and unpopularity of these notorious programs.

Or Google my “36: The Assault on Math.”

You Are _SO_ Right

It will date me, but I was a "victim" of New Math in elementary school. To this day -- 50 years later -- I resort to using a ratio formula with one variable in order to validate simple percentage calculations.

After New Math, I was part of the experimental group for New English. Not the control group. The experimental group. We were all members of the experimental group, because there was no control group.

Government influence in education must stop. It must stop finally and completely. It is the infinite tide of government funding which allows unproductive, and sometimes sinister, fads in education to persist.

On a lighter note, satirist Tom Lehrer wrote a great song criticizing the New Math way back in the 50s/60s. Here's a link to an illustrated YouTube version:


dumbing down America

News story out today says that 80% of New York high school graduates can't really read, or only at a low level.


My own research suggests there is something intentionally malevolent in the policies and methods endorsed by our Education Establishment. I am more and more thinking of these people as sociopaths. Imagine making a kid illiterate on purpose. Imagine deliberately disrupting a child's ability to learn math.

Community leaders should be doing a lot more. I'm actually quite amazed at how passive and unhelpful they are. Is everybody in bed with the NEA? Is everybody getting a cut of the education budget?

If there are any leaders in this community really trying to improve education, I'd like to know who they are.

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