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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The President Continues to Divide - This Time The Teachers

The White House just posted this press release on their site about a new corps of Master Teachers for STEM subjects that they are developing (highlights are mine.)
Today, the Obama Administration announced the President’s plan to create a national Science, Math, Technology, and Engineering (STEM) Master Teacher Corps. The STEM Master Teacher Corps will begin in 50 locations across the country, each with 50 exceptional STEM educators. Over the next four years the Corps will expand to include 10,000 of the best STEM teachers in the nation. In joining the STEM Master Teachers Corps, these educators will make a commitment to champion the cause of STEM education in their respective communities, and will receive additional resources to mentor math and science teachers, inspire students, and help their communities grow.
Improving America’s STEM education is one of President Obama’s top priorities.  As he has said repeatedly, efforts to improve STEM education are “going to make more of a difference in determining how well we do as a country than just about anything else that we do here.” A world-class STEM workforce is essential to virtually every goal we have as a nation – whether it’s broadly shared economic prosperity, international competitiveness, a strong national defense, a clean energy future, and longer, healthier, lives for all Americans.   If we want the future to be made in America, we need to redouble our efforts to strengthen and expand our STEM workforce.
The Obama Administration is committed to ensuring America’s students are prepared to succeed in an increasingly competitive economy. To do so, we must make sure effective, capable teachers are guiding our youth in the classroom. By creating a STEM Master Teaching Corps to inspire students, and by giving these educators the necessary resources to teach well, we are investing in America’s future.
In a roundtable today with a group of K-12 math and science teachers at the White House, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz, OSTP Director Dr. John Holdren, and PCAST Co-Chair Dr. Eric Lander announced the proposal, which the Administration will launch with the $1 billion allocated in President Obama’s 2013 budget plan currently before Congress.
At the same time, the Administration also announced the immediate dedication of $100 million from the Teachers Incentive Fund to help schools establish well-defined, attractive career paths in STEM education for teachers who excel. The program will require these highly effective teachers to model STEM instruction for their peers and take on additional responsibilities in their school districts.
Already, 30 school districts across the Nation have expressed interest in competing for this funding to boost their STEM programs.
The President’s proposals build off a carefully considered recommendation from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to applaud our Nation’s STEM educators, retain talented individuals by incentivizing STEM teaching, and encourage teacher cooperation to improve STEM education across the country.

So, just to be clear, he's creating an elite subset of Master Teachers within the teaching corps who will receive extra money and model their behavior for other teachers in just a few specific subjects that the government has decided are the ONLY things that will save our economy. That should be great for everyone in the history, English, foreign language and arts departments. No money for you. And for everyone already teaching the STEM courses looks like there's one more group you have to join if you don't want to be left behind in the pay scale. It's probably a safe bet that you  get to be one of the 10,000 future Master Teachers only if you teach a certain way and certain ideologies. Anyone else see a great way to keep global warming in the classroom?

The goal is to create a STEM worforce, not to provide worldclass education for kids, and he's seeding this effort with $1 billion, but there is no plan for how such a program will continue to be funded and by whom.

According to the list of attendees at the roundtable, teaching STEM courses is now part of our Domestic Policy. Just as a reminder to everyone, the Domestic Policy Council was started in 1993 by President Clinton and a part of its mission is to  "ensure coordination and communication among the heads of relevant Federal offices and agencies.  Which agencies need to be coordinated?  Here is the list of people who regularly attend DPC meetings.

Director - Cecilia Munoz (Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy)
Deputy Directors- Mark Zuckerman (Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy)

Jonathan Greenblatt (Deputy Assistant to the President and Director Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation)
Joseph R. Biden (Vice President of the United States)

Kathleen Sebelius (Secretary of Health and Human Services)

Janet Napolitano (Secretary of Homeland Security)

Hilda Solis (Secretary of Labor)

Eric Shinseki (Secretary of Veterans Affairs)

Ken Salazar (Secretary of the Interior)

Arne Duncan (Secretary of Education)

Shaun Donovan (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development)

Tom Vilsack (Secretary of Agriculture)

Ray LaHood (Secretary of Transportation)

Gary Locke (Secretary of Commerce)

Steven Chu (Secretary of Energy)

Timothy F. Geithner (Secretary of the Treasury)

Wonder what tasks will fall under the "additional responsibilities" these Master Teachers will be required to take on in their school districts given this list of people who will be overseeing this program?

Can't wait to see the union response to this. 

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