Monday, May 08, 2006

Ford: "Invest Now, Dividends Tomorrow"

Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. announced today he is co-sponsoring the Mathematics and Science Teaching Corps Act of 2006 (MSTC). This bipartisan bill will create a federal fellowship program to recruit, train and retain outstanding math and science teachers across the country. Congressman Ford made the following statement:

“Leadership in science and math fueled the engine of the American economy in the 20th century. The kind of discovery and invention taking place at research centers across our state like Oak Ridge, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the University of Tennessee, FedEx and Meharry Medical College has driven business and helped create entirely new industries, from farm-based fuels to neutron science to genetic engineering. In turn, these new industries have created the kind of high paying jobs that improve all of our communities.

“In the face of increasing competition from countries such as China and India, it is more important than ever that we continue to improve education at all levels. A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences found that we need to invest heavily in the classroom to remain at the cutting edge of innovation. This bill will match top teachers with students at every level so our schools can foster a student’s interest in math and science throughout their education.

“This bill, paired with my 21st Century Innovation Act, is part of my Make America Competitive Again initiative. Together with fiscal responsibility, healthcare reform and a real commitment to energy independence, these programs will propel us to even greater heights.”

Prospective and experienced teachers with strong math and science backgrounds are often lured away from teaching by more lucrative opportunities in the private sector. In exchange for a four-year teaching commitment, MSTC will provide teaching certification in a one-year master’s program for individuals who are highly skilled in math and science. Retention strategies will include mentoring, professional development, and financial incentives. To participate in the program, current teachers will commit to teaching for five years, mentor new teachers and participate in professional development.

MSTC is based on a successful program in New York City called the Newton Fellowship Program, which is operated by a non-profit organization called Math for America.