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citizens. The human mind is the most complex and remarkable thing on the face of the earth - by comparison the most advanced computers look like oversized Tinkertoys. Yet, we have entrusted those minds to the members of one of our most underpaid, overworked, and undervalued professions. It is amazing that anybody who is competent to do the job is willing to do it. Somebody once remarked, correctly, that any competent teacher who continues to teach is truly committed or truly ought to be.

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In spite of the fact that there are many dedicated, competent teachers in the schools of the nation, there are not nearly enough - especially in the areas of mathematics and the physical sciences (physics and chemistry). Although there appear to be live bodies in front of most mathematics classrooms in the country, those who are teaching are often grossly underprepared. Last year 50.2% of the newly hired science and mathematics teachers were judged unqualified by the principals who hired them. And, a principal ordinarily considers a teacher qualified if the teacher meets state certification requirements. In many states, a reasonably imaginative prospective teacher can be certified to teach mathematics with far less than adequate preparation. For example, I know one young man who received certification to teach mathematics in New York even though he had failed the Regents' Examination in tenth-grade geometry on five separate occasions and had never passed either geometry or any more advanced mathematics course.

The lack of enough qualified mathematics teachers is unfortunate for the many students who will have to learn mathematics without adequate instruction. If they fail to learn, understand, and appreciate mathematics, it will forever prevent them from understanding and dealing with the world as well as they might have. Beyond that, their options for pursuing future education and for fulfilling their occupational goals will be severely limited. Because of the needs of individuals, local and state school authorities have an obligation to do everything in their power to provide adequate teachers and an adequate education for all children in every school in their jurisdictions. Unfortunately, local voters are aware of the great mobility of the modern American family (40 million Americans almost one-fifth of the population - move every year), so they are often unwilling to provide the tax revenues with which to give a quality education to a child who will probably become a citizen of, and be employed in, another community. Thus, what was once a local responsibility for education ought now to be shared by the federal government.

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Beyond the natural interest of each individual in acquiring an adequate education the nation has a vested interest in the education of every citizen.

The rights and duties of citizenship require an educated citizenry, and
in an increasingly technological society, that education must include
mathematical and scientific reasoning.
If the future problems of the nation and the world are to be solved,
they will be solved by citizens and scientists with better
mathematical education than is commonly available today.
The economic future of each nation is becoming more dependent upon
the mathematical and scientific education of its citizens a fact that
has been recognized and acted upon by our major economic
Finally, the very defense of the nation is now dependent upon the
education of our citizens. Two hundred years ago when the nation was
defended with musket and cannon, and armies traveled on foot or
horseback a higher education was of little need to the defenders of our
country. Today we find that army recruits do not know enough
mathematics to understand the manuals written to help them run the
sophisticated military equipment on which the nation is investing so

Congress has the power and obligation to "provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States." Today, that power and that obligation require Congress to act to assure the adequate education of the children of the United States.

Many short-term solutions to the crisis in mathematics and science education have been proposed, and some are being tried by state and local education officials. These include salary differentials based on shortage, loans for prospective teachers in shortage areas with forgiveness of parts of the loans for each year of teaching, improved conditions (increased planning Mint

time, reduced nonprofessional work such as supervising study halls and lunch rooms, more support for attendance at professional meetings and for graduate work, etc.), and encouraging industries to hire mathematics and science teachers during the summer to enhance their incomes and their knowledge of how their subjects are used in industry. If sufficient resources were poured into solutions of this sort, there would certainly be an effect. Insofar as salary supplements are offered by one state or locality, those supplements are likely to produce a reallocation of mathematics and science teachers but will probably not substantially increase the number of such teachers in the nation as a whole unless the supplements are of the order of magnitude of $10,000 per year or more, since that is what would be required to compete with salaries offered to the same people in industry. The problem with such additional support for teachers of shortage subjects is the pernicious notion that might be fostered that those teachers are somehow better or more important than the teachers of other subjects

the only justification for such supplements would, of course, be the law of supply and demand.

Another short term "solution" to the problem that holds little promise of success is recertifying teachers of other subjects to teach mathematics and science. This practice tends to lower standards. Teachers whose livelihood depends upon their changing subjects usually meet the absolute minimum state requirements for certification, are often not interested in the subject to which they were forced to switch, and may be expected to simply bide their time until they have enough seniority to go back to teaching the subject that was their first love.

If we are to solve the long-term crisis facing the nation in education, the Congress and the President must take seriously the charge to "provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States." And, they must realize that the long-range defense and general welfare of the nation are more dependent on the education of our youth than development or deployment of particular technological innovations. With a federal budget in excess of 700 billion dollars, there has to be room for a few billion dollars to improve the education of our children and thus insure the future defense and economic welfare of the nation.


If a true national commitment were to be made to education, I would propose that the following four steps be taken:


Improve conditions within the schools. Make clear to our educators what they are supposed to be achieving and what they are not responsible for doing. Stop insisting that teachers supervise the cafeteria, the hall, the parking lot, and so on. Can you imagine the reaction if physicians were required to supervise the hospital parking lot? Provide strong support for maintaining discipline within the classrooms so education can proceed. Provide better educational materials and better opportunities and support for teachers to evaluate those materials and use them effectively. Provide better equipment and other facilities. Provide more opportunity and incentive for teachers to continue their professional development through participation in activities of professional societies and through further formal education. Beyond this, students, parents, and other citizens should openly show excellent teachers the respect to which they are entitled for doing a difficult job well and many of our present teachers ARE doing the job magnificently.


Increase the school year to at least 220 days. The education lost during the summer is far greater than the simple lack of having learned for 40 or so additional days. Any teacher can tell you that students forget a great deal over the summer, and much of the first month back is spent relearning that which has been forgotten.



Improve standards for becoming and remaining a teacher. Professional organizations such the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics have published standards for becoming teachers. These standards, by any reasonable criteria, are minimal given the job the teacher is expected to accomplish. However, state certification requirements are invariably lower than the standards advocated by the profession, and many states have tended to lower those standards still further in light of shortages. But, beyond the need for higher entry standards, we must realize that the world is changing and teachers must change with it or be unable to provide students with an up-todate, appropriate education. A teacher who is certified today at the age of 22 could still be teaching in the year 2031. Although the world will certainly have changed by then, most states do not require the teacher to have learned anything new in that time.


Double the salary of every teacher in the country. Double the salaries of those in shortage areas and in nonshortage areas, of those who are good and those who are not so good. Does this mean that some incompetent teachers will be overpaid? Of course. But any teacher who is incompetent is already overpaid. Changes proposed here would greatly improve the quantity and quality of people trying to become teachers and would improve the procedures used to select and educate those people, as well as making it possible for the many fine teachers who are already teaching to concentrate more effort on improving their teaching still further. Without such dramatic action, this nation can expect to gradually lose its predominent place in the intellectual, technological, economic, and creative activities of the world. Because the general welfare of the nation is at stake, the Congress has both the power and the obligation to act. The financial support for this improvement should probably come largely from the federal government, so that when federal funds are matched by local and state governments, the federal government would be paying about one-third of the cost of faculty salaries in schools,

There is a crisis in education today that will profoundly affect the future of the nation. If we act by doing just a little, we may fool ourselves into believing that we have solved the problem when we have in fact only put it out of our minds. Too little action may be worse than no action at all.

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