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The problems at the high school levels are very serious. They seem to me to include restoring academic and cognitive learning to a position of prominence for all American children; helping teachers to be much more effective in teaching in these areas; understanding the ways in which children learn and the ways in which teachers teach effectively. These are issues for research. Therefore, as we look at ways to think about solving these problems, first we must support school leaders, whoever those school leaders may be, whether they be principals, whether they be teachers, whether they be coalitions of community leaders, to address the learning issues in the school.
Second, we must look to improve teacher effectiveness through summer institutes, through programs at the school, through programs outside the schools and colleges.
And third, we must support research aimed at understanding and improving the teaching of the complex skills: cognitive research; pedagogical effectiveness; curriculum studies.
Finally, in conclusion, let me say that I have two caveats that I would like to raise about the math-science initiatives. Justice was referred to earlier. I would like to refer to it again. Traditionally, in this society the people who have done well in mathematics and science are that minority of the population who are white and male.
I recognize the importance of that segment of the population, but I recognize also the importance of the rest of the population; if we concentrate our efforts on math-science, we must include all the population, not just a portion of it.
Second, as we move to take computers seriously and make the new technologies available to children, we need to make sure that all children have access to those new technologies. If they are important learning tools for some, then they are important for all. Those children who have the new technologies at home must not be given a superior advantage over those children whose families cannot have the new technologies at home and thereby further widen the gap between the children of the rich and the children of the poor. Our society cannot afford to have that gap exist. All children must achieve satisfactorily in school levels. Thank you very much.
Senator STAFFORD. Thank you very much, Dr. Graham.
One of the principal issues facing us in the area of mathematics and science education is that of teacher retention. We have heard of low salaries relative to industry, poor teaching environments, dilapidated teaching facilities and equipment as some of the key factors in teacher dropout.
How do we realistically in the short term face the problem of teacher retention, particularly in the area of math and science? What is the Federal Government's role in this regard?
I raised this with the Secretary, but I would like to raise it again for brief comments from this panel.
Mr. McGUIRE. I would be happy to respond to that. It certainly is a difficult problem, and at the base of it, of course, the financial matters are of great importance. Teachers' salaries have lagged substantially and we are going to have to deal very carefully with that. And any influx of money that will help in the salary area will be of some help, but will not be sufficient to turn it around completely. We also talk about the feeling of rejection, the feelings around the workplace, and I believe that the American Defense Education Act addresses this at least in one regard: the involvement of the teachers, of the administration, of business and labor, the community at large, will be at least one step in the direction of moving teaching back into the area of strong community support and a high level of appreciation which once we were there, but now have diminished and has had quite a telling effect.
So my testimony, I think, addressed at least the finances in terms of substantial resources being put in the district and the involvement of the community in the building of that support which I think are critical.
Senator STAFFORD. Thank you very much.
Ms. GRAHAM. I would simply like to observe that while I agree that it is always better to improve teachers' salaries, as Mr. McGuire suggests, that in two recent studies by the NEA in terms of what teachers considered the most important issues facing them, the first three all had to do with conditions of work and lack of public respect for the efforts that teachers were making to instruct the young
And, therefore, I think those issues are vital to be addressed, and I think particularly the kinds of summer institutes that used to be associated with the National Science Foundation and associated with the National Endowment for the Humanities are particularly helpful in preserving teachers' sense of viability and confidence in their work.
Senator STAFFORD. Thank you.
Mr. SHANKER. Yes. I think that certainly in attracting new teachers the salary question is a top question because if you are going to—my experience has been that college graduates, not necessarily at the top of their class or in math or science, may take 5 or 6 months now to find a job, but when they do find one, there are training positions open where you start at $18,000 a year.
If you have had some experience with computers and have a background in math and science, $21,000 or $22,000 is not considered a windfall type of job. It is a normal entry salary.
And when you think of beginning teacher salaries, $10,000, $11,000, $13,000, even if you were to add a bonus, which would not do the job because I do not hear anybody talking about bonuses of $10,000 or $15,000. You would still have a problem competing with the private sector. I do not hear anyone talking about something which would equal or compete with what industry is doing. They are talking about $1,000 or $2,000 which is great public relations to show that you are making an effort, but the new entrant is still going to look at the $13,000 in a school system as against $23,000 in industry. Now, as far as teachers in, the retention question, I would agree with Dr. Graham that the most important issue there really are the working conditions, whether the teacher feels that he or she is accomplishing some type of life mission.
Now, some of that has to do with conditions that we talked about. Let me mention one that has not been talked about.
Our schools no longer require students to take very much math or science. If you are a math or a science teacher and if you are able, you really did not enter teaching to teach remedial arithmetic in high school to somebody who did not make it in third grade.
You may be willing to do that for one or two periods a day, but in addition to that, for your-in terms of your own interests, just as the English teacher probably wants a course in which Shakespeare or something can be taught and not just some remedial work, that teacher would like a chance teaching some advanced courses.
There are not very many advanced courses if you do not require students to take courses. All you have then is some sort of a remedial or a beginning course, and that is the beginning or end of it, and there is very little stimulation. A person interested in math or science says, look, I am wasting my time. It is nice that this kid is going to learn how to count his change when he leaves the store, but that is not why I went to school that many years.
Now, I think that one of the things that we have got to do isand, by the way, this is a key to providing future math and science teachers—we have got to get away from the philosophy that the curriculum is made up of what children enjoy at the particular moment that they are in school or what they think is relevant, to use the phrase that has been determining our curriculum in recent years, and to reassert the notion that sometimes adults know what children need a little more than the children themselves know, and that at some later point they will find out that what we compelled them to do was right for them.
They might even enjoy it later on. But I think that one of the key features in retaining teachers is to give them a program that they enjoy teaching. And they will only get that program and we will only get our future supply of math teachers if we decide that we are going back to a period where there are requirements of an extensive period of education in these areas.
Senator STAFFORD. Thank you very much, Mr. Shanker. I think I have consumed 5 minutes. So, Senator Kennedy, I will yield to you.
Senator KENNEDY. As the members of this panel know, we have a number of proposals before this committee at this time on this subject matter. Each of you have covered different phases of the legislation, but if you were to try and identify the three or four top priorities, what might they be?
Mr. Shanker, do you want to start off?
Mr. SHANKER. Sure. I would state three of them: first would be retraining because that is the best way to get some quick results, even though they are not the long-term results we want, and retaining is under two categories. First, we have got to do something in terms of addressing the current deficits in these areas in the elementary schools; creating summer institutes and facilities where elementary schoolteachers who feel that they themselves are not able to do an adequate job in these areas are able to get the retraining or training or help that they need so that they can start doing an effective job with their own students.
Second, half of that retraining, probably the biggest group of math teachers we could get right away is to turn to teachers who are now teaching other subjects in secondary schools or perhaps some in elementary schools, people who majored in English or social studies or other fields, but had a minor in college in mathematics or in science, and maybe they are not too many credits away, and to say, look, we have the tuition money for you. We have a stipend over the summer so you do not have to coach or take some job over the summer.
The largest number of teachers we are likely to get in math and science in the short run are people who are already teaching other subjects and who are encouraged to move over. So, retraining is the first.
Second is recruiting, and there I think the targeting in terms of loans and scholarships for students who are willing to commit themselves to go into this is the best bet in terms of a short-term bet.
The third has to do with the emphasis on requirements because that is the long term. If we do not go to a situation where all of our high school students nationally are taking a full program throughout their school career of mathematics and science, if we are allowing children to decide in advance, this is too difficult for me; there is too much homework in it; it is easier to take some soft elective, and so I am not going to take this; what we are doing is we are now, by not enforcing curriculum standards in high schools, automatically creating a shortage which no number of incentives will undo.
Nobody is going to start on a career in mathematics and science in college if they have not gotten the foundation before that.
Mr. McGUIRE. I think we need as a basis either ADEA or something very similar to that that is broad and comprehensive, that works with the planning and the implementation and the evaluation of what is actually going on within the school district, from elementary school through high school.
Additionally, the inservice training, the institute program or other things within the district, I can speak very directly to that because when NDEA was passed about 25 years ago, I am a product of two of those institutes: one in foreign language under NDEA and the other sponsored by the National Science Foundation through NDEA in mathematics. And I found those, after teaching about 10 years prior to that, to be extremely helpful in the classroom. And we need to, of course, also address the preservice training to have that be effective and also be in a setting in which it will help attract our college graduates and teacher education into these areas.
Ms. GRAHAM. I would have a slightly different set of priorities. First I would argue that, in talking about Federal legislation, the Federal Government has a responsibility for educational research that it does not have for the administration of educational programs. And, therefore, I would encourage any legislation to include serious amounts of money for research on learning, children's learning styles, on pedagogical effectiveness, on school organization, and on curriculum.
Second, I would agree with my colleagues that a high priority should be placed on various kinds of inservice training for teachers who are presently responsible for instruction in mathematics or science, either at the high school level or those who have responsibility at the elementary level as well.
I think the people who are presently there who are teaching are likely to be there for a long time, and it is imperative that those people be knowledgeable about mathematics and science and furthermore that they feel comfortable in teaching it. I fear that that is not universally the case.
Finally, I would talk about the need for support to get people to enter mathematics and science teaching at the elementary and the high school level. I am not, from my perspective, enormously optimistic about being able to get 21-year-old persons who are well trained in mathematics or science to commit themselves to a lifetime of teaching mathematics or science at the elementary or secondary level.
I hope that there will continue to be such gifted people in mathematics and science who will do that. On the other hand, I think realistically we need to start looking at some other possible pools of mathematics and science teachers, particularly people who already know about mathematics and science, but who for one reason or another may feel at the age of 50 that they might like to leave their current employer. Further, their company may feel with them that their service in the company is no longer as valuable as it once was. Some might be attracted to a 1-year program in which they might be prepared to become mathematics and science teachers, with the pension as a supplement to the salary which they would ordinarily be getting as beginning teachers at the master's level.
I think some innovative approaches of that sort bear investigation.
Senator KENNEDY. Mr. Chairman, my time is up. Could I ask just one additional question and then maybe submit some others for the record?
Senator STAFFORD. Sure.
Senator KENNEDY. All of you have expressed concern about the elitism which might develop from a focused program for math and science education at a precollege level. Do you all believe that the program ought to be something which is focused on the general student population rather than on the precollege student?
Mr. SHANKER. Yes, I certainly do. And I do not think we are going to solve the shortage problem given the demographics of this next period, that we have a decline of, oh, 20 to 22 percent in the cohorts entering both the work force and the colleges and universities, 16 to 25 year olds. If we do not reach out to groups that have not previously made it in these fields, we are not going to make it because we are just dealing with a much smaller population.
And if we do not reach minorities and women who have not previously gone into math and science in any decent proportion, if we do not reach out and recruit from these groups, then we are engaged in a hopeless enterprise because of the demographics.
Ms. GRAHAM. I believe the talent is widely distributed in this society, and society needs to nurture all the talent it can find. We need to look for all. The talent in the society, not just some of it as we have in the past.
Mr. McGUIRE. I would agree with the two other speakers.