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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Money for math and science teachers



Florida State University and the University of Florida are teaming up on a $10 million plan to better recruit and prepare math and science teachers for Florida's public schools – areas where there have been critical shortages for years.

The effort, announced in Tallahassee this morning, is modeled on a program at the University of Texas at Austin that doubled the number of UT-Austin grads with certification to teach math and science.

Florida could use the boost.

For more than two decades, state education officials have put math and science teachers on its annual critical teacher shortage list. Last fall, 10.2 percent of new science teachers and 9.2 percent of new math teachers were deemed out of field because they weren't fully certified in the subject areas they were hired to teach, according to a report from the state Department of Education.

Plenty of credible observers say it's not a leap to suggest a link between teacher quality and the poor showing of American students on many measures of math and science competence. (For the latest example, check out this study released today.)

The new initiative will be funded by grant money from the National Math and Science Initiative and the Helios Education Foundation, with matching money from the Florida Legislature. The NMSI picked UF, FSU and 10 other institutions of higher education from 52 who applied to replicate UTeach, the UT-Austin program.

The next generation of scientists is critical for the U.S. to "flourish in the 21st century," FSU President T.K. Wetherell said in a press release. "We are honored to have been selected to pay such an important role in helping to develop those scientists."

The new program will help UF "head off a scientific 'brain drain' by putting bright scientific minds into teaching positions in public school classrooms," UF Provost Janie Fouke said in a written statement.

- Ron Matus, state education reporter

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:27am]


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