Georgians have needed some good news on the education front lately. After weeks of almost nonstop scandal, controversy and bleak statistics, nobody could be blamed for thinking the state of teaching and learning was spiraling toward rock bottom.
The welcome tidings came July 15, when Columbus State University President Tim Mescon announced that Gov. Nathan Deal has channeled up to $1.4 million in federal “Race to the Top” money to the university. The grant will be used to adapt a University of Texas teacher training program called UTeach for CSU’s future educators. Comparable grants were announced for West Georgia and Southern Polytechnic State universities.
The governor said the money awarded to the three Georgia teacher training programs is intended to remedy what he called a “critical shortage” in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers in public education. It’s a shortage that indeed bodes ill for Georgia’s economic future in an increasingly sophisticated international culture.
The College of Education and the College of Natural Science at the University of Texas collaborated to design UTeach about 14 years ago. Its website describes the program as one involving paid internships “specifically created to attract the widest range of bright STEM field majors into secondary-teaching careers.”
A crop of well-qualified science and math teachers can’t come too soon: According to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2005, only 18 percent of American high school seniors qualified as “proficient.”
It’s worth noting that “Race to the Top” is supposed to reward innovations in states that improve performance and increase graduation rates. The fact that much of Georgia’s improvement turned out to be fraudulent does not reflect on CSU and the other schools that will use it to train educators.
The prospect of more well-educated teachers is a happy one for Georgia. Maybe by the time those teachers are ready to begin their careers, the state actually will be able to afford to hire them.
— Online: www.ledger-enquirer.com