|President Obama Calls for $1 Billion “Master Teachers” Program|
|posted by: Alix | July 19, 2012, 05:45 PM|
Following a renewed commitment to education and teacher quality policy that began earlier this year, the Obama administration this week unveiled plans to create an elite corps of master teachers with the stated goal of ushering in a new era of respect and retention for the profession. The program is projected to cost $1 billion and is designed to recruit and retain teachers with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experience.
The Master Teacher Corps program proposal initially calls for recruiting 2,500 educators and increasing that to 10,000 over the next four years. The federal government would pay them an additional $20,000 stipend on top of their base salaries from their school or district as an incentive. Each teacher would be required to serve at least four years. Sold as an investment in STEM education, the goal would be to create a program that will multiply an effective workforce in which expert educators share their knowledge and skills with other teachers, improving the quality of education for all students in the long term.
President Obama discussed his vision at a rally for his re-election in Texas on Tuesday. "I'm running to make sure that America has the best education system on earth, from pre-K all the way to post-graduate," President Obama stressed. "And that means hiring new teachers, especially in math and science." He told the crowd that his commitment to increased federal education spending stood in contrast to Republican challenger Governor Romney.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan echoed the President's comments, further stating that the administration's plan would raise the prestige of the profession and increase teacher retention. "This is a chance to look across the entire pipeline, from attracting better talent, to better mentoring that talent, to having folks stay in the profession for a much longer time," asserted Secretary Duncan in a conversation with reporters. "If we want to keep good jobs in this country, we know we need a much better educated workforce, and so many of the skills that are in demand right now are in the STEM areas."
According to insiders, the plan faces an uphill battle in Congress. As it stands, the $1 billion price tag would come from funds that make up part of Obama's 2013 budget proposal. With a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, the budget stands little chance of becoming law.
Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) claimed the plan didn't account for fiscal or departmental realities. "I'm all for supporting math and science, but I think we need to refocus our attention on the basics," he said. "It doesn't make much sense to be adding taxpayer dollars where there's already significant overlap and duplication." Congressman Hunter supports legislation that would streamline the Department of Education and put an end to duplicate programs.
What do you think about President Obama's new Master Teachers Corps program?