On May 31, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, University of California President Robert Dynes and California State University Chancellor Charles Reed gathered in the Koll Room of UC Irvine’s Bren Events Center for a news conference to announce the new California Teach program, part of the California Math and Science Initiative that plans to improve the quality of math and science in kindergarten through 12th-grades.
Under the program, the UC will quadruple its annual output of credentialed science and mathematics teachers from the current 250 to 1,000 by 2010.
Under the California Teach program, students can earn a science, engineering or mathematics bachelor’s degree and a single-subject teaching credential in four years.
The program will also offer field experience in the classroom as well as a yearlong paid teaching internship upon graduation. Financial incentives will be offered, including a loan forgiveness program. Incentives will also be offered for students who teach in low-performing schools.
The press conference began with an introduction from Chancellor Ralph Cicerone emphasizing the importance of improving education from a national perspective.
‘What has brought us here today is an important part of the national agenda because there’s a lot of evidence that the United States of America must act very quickly to bolster its infrastructure and human resources based in science and mathematics education to maintain our standard of living and academic competitiveness in the United States,’ Cicerone said.
Dynes followed Cicerone in describing the need for the program.
‘Today, even as other nations are stepping up their investments in competitiveness, achievement levels in kindergarten through 12th-grade students in California are frighteningly low,’ Dynes said. ‘California must do better. California will do better.’
Dynes estimated that producing a ‘highly qualified’ science and math teacher will cost the state $20,000, which he said is ‘a bargain.’
Schwarzenegger has already pledged $1 million in the May revision to his 2005-2006 state budget proposal to support implementation of the first phase of the program at the UC and CSU.
‘We need to be more effective and efficient with the money that we spend on education and we need to target programs and ideas that will give us the results,’ Schwarzenegger said. ‘The private sector will join us to make this a true partnership for California.’
Following Arnold’s speech, Chuck Smith, president and chief executive officer of SBC West, presented a $1 million check and Brenda Musilli of Intel presented $2 million to Schwarzenegger. In total, 18 companies including Qualcomm, Boeing, Sun Microsystems and Adobe Systems ,have committed private funds to help the UC produce kindergarten through 12th-grade science and math instructors.
‘What we must do now is target our resources and encourage more math and science students to choose a career in education and then prepare them to be highly trained and highly competent math and science teachers in our kindergarten through 12th-grade public education,’ Schwarzenegger said. ‘The California of tomorrow will be shaped by what we do in the classroom today.’
Tienanh Cung, a third-year mathematics major who plans to become a high school mathematics teacher, believes that the California Teach program will motivate students to become math and science teachers, though she has doubts about the program’s success.
‘I think it will attract more people, but I don’t think it will reach 1,000 [student teachers by 2010], because people won’t choose to teach if they’re not interested in it,’ Cung said. ‘If people are interested in teaching, then the program will help, but if you don’t like teaching, I don’t think the program will really make a difference.’
Danny Li, second-year biological sciences major who plans to enter a career in research and development, is also doubtful about the program.
‘I’m skeptical about how it would actually work because the teaching field is not exactly what people aim for, especially [graduates of] the UC,’ Li said.