CalTeach, a joint venture between the University of California and California State University sytems has recruited 200 of their students majoring in the STEM fields (math, science and engineering) to enter the teaching ranks. These students know that a teacher's salary pales in comparison to a job at Google, and they're still game.
CalTeach is the golden state's plan to alleviate the severe shortage of math and science teachers by placing 1,000 new teachers into California K-12 classrooms by 2010. "We thought it was going to be a very tough sell, but students are turning out in droves," said Mark Richards, executive dean of UC Berkeley's College of Letters & Science, dean of its division of mathematical and physical sciences and a professor of earth and planetary science.
Cal Teach is responding to the dismal number of California 9th graders who go on to earn a bachelor's degree in science, math or engineering -- 4%. The Cal Teach website states that nearly 1,500 math and 800 science classes in California high schools were taught in 2002-2003 by teachers with no teaching credential with even more taught by someone with an unrelated credential.
George Johnson, a UC Berkeley professor of mechanical engineering and co-principal investigator for Cal Teach, leads a freshman and sophomore seminar that introduces students to teaching math and science. "Many students enter engineering because of their own successes in math and science, and their interest in applying them," he said. "I believe that engineers can be excellent teachers because they see the connections between math and science. Our goal is for the students in the Cal Teach program to think of themselves as highly skilled engineers or scientists or mathematicians who also choose to teach." (UC Berkeley News)
Wouldn't you want someone like Dorothy Tang, a 21-year-old applied mathematics major or Brian Ikkanda, 19, a UC Berkeley chemical biology major, education minor teaching your child? Some how hearing a biochem major say "I love kids," just doesn't have that old sappy ring to it. Tang goes on to say, "Just being able to spend time with them makes my day. There are always the perks of imparting your knowledge, and hopefully leaving a positive impact on their life."
Tang, who has even taught algebra in Spanish says, "I think that getting the fundamentals and basics down is key in how a student carries on in his or her math later on in life, or anything in general," said Tang. She gets it. Ms. Tang gets the whole foundational knowledge concept and that's a really good thing.
So, now that California's got game, who's next?