The supply of qualified math and science teachers in the classroom will soon hopefully match the demand, as a UC-wide initiative, not to mention a new UCSB minor, tries to encourage more students to pursue a career in education.
Next quarter, the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education will offer a new emphasis with its education minor. The emphasis, called the Science and Mathematics Initiative (SMI), is an accelerated way for undergraduates to earn their teaching credentials for high school math and science classes, said Julie Bianchini, faculty director of SMI.
The UC-wide California Teach Science and Mathematics Initiative, which was founded on May 31 at UC Irvine, has the goal of creating 100 new math and science teachers per year in California, Bianchini said. Currently, only about 20 new credentialed math and science teachers come into the California workforce per year.
While the state officially funds the program, organizers have also raised over $4 million through corporate sponsors in science and technology-based companies such as Adobe and Boeing, the program’s website stated.
UCSB already offers an education minor with three possible emphases including teaching, counseling and general education, said Tine Sloan, acting director of teacher education at UCSB. The new courses developed for the emphasis will prepare students to obtain their credential.
Sloan said the education minor is open to all UCSB students.
“The SMI program will be more than just a minor, because we are developing a whole route for science and math teachers to start their credential preparation within their undergraduate programs,” Sloan said.
The program will begin with the California Teach 1 and 2 classes, both of which will include field instruction and observation in high school classes, Sloan said. The CAT1 and CAT2 courses are pending approval by the university.
“They will be helping kids learn and will want to pursue this wonderful career path,” Sloan said.
Bianchini said the courses offer financial incentives in the form of stipends and also offer experience for students to pursue careers in teaching math and science. The stipends will be provided for pre-professional work done by education students, such as working as a teacher’s assistant.
“We are trying to provide a pathway for students to have their coursework done in education,” Bianchini said. “We have lower division courses with school placement attached to them, as well as a stipend for the students.”
According to the California Teach Science and Mathematics Initiative website, a combined total of 2,300 math and science classrooms were taught last year by an instructor with no teaching credential, and even more by teachers with credentials in a completely unrelated field. The website also predicts that one-third of currently credentialed California teachers will retire within the next decade, creating a substantial demand for qualified teachers.