University pledges to recruit 1,700 new STEM teachers annually by 2020

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The University of California is strengthening its commitment to preparing the next generation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics educators for California’s K-12 classrooms.

100Kin10 – a network of about 280 organizations that aims to train and retain 100,000 STEM teachers — announced its partnership with the UC system last week.

“We need to recruit and prepare more math and science teachers,” said Ryan Shiba, the program manager at UC Berkeley’s Cal Teach, a program through which recruited STEM teachers at the university will receive their training and teaching accreditation.

To meet the 100Kin10 goal, undergraduate STEM majors with an interest in education will take courses through the Cal Teach program, offering students at all nine UC undergraduate campuses the opportunity to complete both a bachelor’s degree and a California teaching credential as an undergraduate.

The university’s new collaboration with 100Kin10 initiative pledges to recruit 1,700 undergraduate STEM majors annually for careers as K-12 mathematics and science teachers by 2020, according to a university press release.

STEM education in K-12 classrooms has become increasingly important, Shiba said, noting the need for students with a strong background in math and science for both personal development and future employability.

UC president Janet Napolitano, however, has cut all legislature-mandated funding to teacher and leader preparation programs in the UC system, according to a fact sheet from Jessica Charles, the director of professional programs at the campus Graduate School of Education.

UC Berkeley’s own Cal Teach program, which eventually plans to award 50 teacher accreditations each year, has been a partner with the 100Kin10 initiative since 2012, according to Shiba.

Twenty accredited math and science teachers will graduate from the program this year, Shiba said, adding that Cal Teach has steadily increased its enrollment over the last five years.

Celeste Gonzalez, a first-generation Hispanic student in UC Berkeley’s Cal Teach program, said the program has given her the support she needed to pursue a degree in mathematics.

“(I) hope to be the difference to students in urban schools,” Gonzalez said. “They’re going to look at me and be like, ‘Look, you got a bachelor’s degree, especially from Berkeley.’ It will motivate them to go to a university.”

In addition to Cal Teach, UC Berkeley also supports K-12 education and the 100Kin10 partnership through a variety of other programs, including Math for America Berkeley, which focuses on professional development for teachers already in the field.

According to Katherine Reid, Math for America Berkeley’s director, the difficulty in classroom education lies not only in getting STEM majors into teaching, but also in keeping them there.

Math for America Berkeley’s goal is to keep good STEM teachers — who are often drawn away from teaching because of lucrative offers in other fields — in the classroom with professional development, Reid said.

“There aren’t enough math and science teachers in the country,” said Elisa Stone, the executive director at the Berkeley Science and Math Initiative, which serves as the umbrella organization over Cal Teach and Math for America Berkeley. “There’s a hole that we’re trying to fill.”

Contact Adam Iscoe at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @iscoe_dc

The headline attached to a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the university pledged to recruit 1,700 new STEM teachers by 2020. In fact, it pledged to recruit 1,700 new STEM teachers annually by that date.