The University of Minnesota is historically known for groundbreaking scientific research and has always chosen to continue to pursue it when funding priorities are called into question. Given the current state of American education, it’s worth considering what it would mean if our university were to be just as well known for producing groundbreaking science and math teachers.
The White House announced on March 18 that a science, technology, engineering and mathematics-field teacher training program would expand to 10 top research schools across the nation, made possible with a $22.5 million gift from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The program, called “UTeach” and developed at the University of Texas at Austin, recruits STEM undergraduates and encourages them to pursue teaching careers, the Scientific American reported March 18. Graduates from the program receive a degree in their major as well as the necessary requisites to obtain a teaching license.
The Scientific American also reported that UTeach has a remarkably high teacher retention rate: “More than 40 percent of all teachers leave the profession during their first five years,” but “UTeach reports that 82 percent of its graduates are still in the classroom five years later.”
The National Math and Science initiative, one of the main organizations behind expanding UTeach, is accepting proposals from institutions and will be choosing 10 schools for implementation of the program in the coming months.
Even if the University does not submit a proposal to implement UTeach on our campus, we should consider how our school, one of the largest research institutions in America, can play a role in producing the country’s finest teachers.