White House Announces STEM Master Teacher Corps

The Obama administration has announced plans for a STEM Master Teacher Corps, a force of the nation’s top science, technology, engineering, and math educators to prepare American students for the global economy. The corps will begin with only 50 teachers but has a goal of reaching 10,000 educators over the next four years.

The word “corps” brings to mind military units and civic organizations. The initiative to bring American students and workers to the top of ranks of STEM can be likened to a battle.The STEM infographic below reveals much about what is at stake. The US falls drastically behind in the number of college graduates with STEM degrees, standing at a mere 5.6% while China comes in at 46.7%. Considering that over the next five years, STEM jobs are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs in other fields, developing a national corps—squadron, battalion, regiment, etc—of STEM teachers seems like a wise tactical move.

President Obama said, “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.”

Teachers will be selected by the Department of Education, which will work with nonprofit organizations, business partners, and school districts to identify top candidates for the Corps.Those chosen will be asked to make a multi-year commitment and will receive a stipend of up to $20,000 in addition to their normal salaries.

Earlier in the President’s term, he called for a national effort to help move American students from the middle to the top in terms of science and math achievement. “The Obama Administration is committed to preparing young people both to learn deeply and think critically in STEM, and to equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary for jobs in the high-growth fields that fuel American innovation,” stated the White House’s press release.

In addition to the $1 billion planned for the STEM Master Teacher Corps, the President’s 2013 budget includes a new $5 billion program called the RESPECT Project, which stands for Recognizing Education Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching, and is defined as a national conversation led by active classroom teachers working temporarily for the Department of Education. The budget request is currently pending in Congress.

The budget may still be up in the air, but the President is immediately able to dedicate approximately $100 million of the existing Teacher Incentive Fund toward helping school districts establish career ladders that identify, develop, and leverage highly effective STEM teachers. Districts have only eight more days to apply for funding.