Recommendation A: Increase America’s talent pool by vastly improving K–12 science and mathematics education.
The highest priority should be assigned to the following actions and programs. All should be subjected to continuing evaluation and refinement as they are implemented.
Action A-1: Annually recruit 10,000 science and mathematics teachers by awarding 4-year scholarships and thereby educating 10 million minds. Attract 10,000 of America’s brightest students to the teaching profession every year, each of whom can have an impact on 1,000 students over the course of their careers. The program would award competitive 4-year scholarships for students to obtain bachelor’s degrees in the physical or life sciences, engineering, or mathematics with concurrent certification as K–12 science and mathematics teachers. The merit-based scholarships would provide up to $20,000 a year for 4 years for qualified educational expenses, including tuition and fees, and require a commitment to 5 years of service in public K–12 schools. A $10,000 annual bonus would go to participating teachers in underserved schools in inner cities and rural areas. To provide the highest-quality education for undergraduates who want to become teachers, it would be important to award matching grants, on a one-to-one basis, of $1 million a year for up to 5 years, to as many as 100 universities and colleges to encourage them to establish integrated 4-year undergraduate programs leading to bachelor’s degrees in the physical and life sciences, mathematics, computer sciences, or engineering with teacher certification. The models for this action are the UTeach and California Teach program.
Action A-2: Strengthen the skills of 250,000 teachers through training and education programs at summer institutes, in master’s programs, and in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) training programs. Use proven models to strengthen the skills (and compensation, which is based on education and skill level) of 250,000 current K–12 teachers.
Summer institutes: Provide matching grants to state and regional 1- to 2-week summer institutes to upgrade the skills and state-of-the-art knowledge of as many as 50,000 practicing teachers each summer. The material covered would allow teachers to keep current with recent developments in science, mathematics, and technology and allow for the exchange of best teaching practices. The Merck Institute for Science Education is one model for this action.