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Math and Science Teachers in Demand

  1. Dec 29, 2008 #1


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    Wanted: More science and math teachers in the US
    http://www.yahoo.com/s/1008327 [Broken]
    A few science teachers at the local high school are career-changers, and at least one choose a change in career after his company downsized and he was let go.

    Students need strong and effective teachers as early as possible, in addition to strong parental support. Math and science are challenging subjects, and the work can also be challenging. Parents need to instill a strong work ethic in their children sufficient to tackle the hard work associated with math and science.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 30, 2008 #2
    Some of the hurdles I see:

    1. Faculty in university physics departments don't guide their students to think about teaching as a career (it's all about the Ph.D.-track students). Even the University of Maryland, an institution known for physics education research, only produces about 3 physics-certified teachers per year (based on recent info from the university president (or maybe the A/S dean) at the NASULGC meeting, which had a session or more focusing on their science and math teacher initiative).

    2. The pay. I'm sorry, but with 1 credit short of a master's I was making ~24 grand.... I had friends who left with their BS in physics got jobs at companies for 35+. Some districts (like Denver) are making improvements with incentive pay, but certainly not all.

    3. My god the hurdles to get certification! You have to go through a certification/licensure program at a university, take some national tests in pedagogy and subject area, and be licensed by a state process. And good luck getting complete stipends for the university program (mine, 10 years ago, gave tuition reimbursement, but I still had to pay living expenses out of pocket)... and those national tests aren't cheap either. And then good luck getting that license moved from state to state, especially if you haven't taught in that state for 3 or more years.

    With my family conditions (middle-school age disabled stepson #1, elementary stepson #2, and additionally probably even another bambino on the way -- I've got to get myself to a doctor after the winter break!) I'd LIKE to be able to even consider teaching at the HS level again (being a part-time lecturer at the same university as my spouse, who's in administration now STINKS, even though my chair is amazing and I've started my own research program in physics education with a university grant). But note: With an expired Ohio license, I'd have to go through enormous hurdles to teach HS physics again (I taught in Ohio two years before receiving a better financial offer from the Air Force Research Labs, which included full stipend for an MS in Optics)... so even though I now have my M.Ed. in classroom teaching, in addition an MS in optics, and a Ph.D. in physics, doing outreach for our university to HS teachers giving them ideas for their classroom, and doing some pretty innovative physics education research (conference presentation coming up in May showing that, unlike most college classrooms, I've improved non-science students attitudes towards physics), I can't teach at the HS level. THIS I consider an outrage.

    Principals should be able to freely hire (based on a CV -- with which licensure could be one credential but not necessarily required, and making their own offers of salary based on their districts funding). While I believe in unions for other causes, teacher's unions should not exist at most districts. With this approach, maybe university faculty would even change their views of pre-service teachers.
  4. Jan 4, 2009 #3
    I decided to go into teaching while I was working on my master's in physics. When I found the right offer, I took it--but it is a tough path.

    One four-day "induction" class, and then off to your own classroom, on your own. Three years of classes and intensive observation, passing a content knowledge test and a pedagogy test (the latter of which I have coming up on Saturday), and I will finally have my state certification.

    The paperwork in this process is a nightmare, and there are a lot of people in the process who do not fully comprehend that you are in fact a working, full-time teacher in your own classroom. NO, I can't drop everything and sub in a "practice unit," I need to teach what needs to be taught in the course.

    The pay isn't bad--mainly because I came in with the masters plus a load of hours outside of my master's (I took a lot of physics courses I didn't necessarily need for my master's, and they counted them). I started in the upper-mid 30's, and in year three I just passed the 40 mark (in US dollars).
  5. Feb 9, 2009 #4
    Would any highschool teachers be kind enough to explain the pressures of teaching highschool, particularly in a state where you salary and funding are partially determined by standardized testing?
  6. Feb 11, 2009 #5
    I was a highschool teacher in Ontario Canada for 3 years..I couldn't find a full time job in the area that I wanted to work in so I decided to go back to get my PhD i nMedical Physics.

    A top earning physics teacher in my former school board made about $85 K CAD a year, there is no pay increase for extra curriculars...so the teachers that want to sit on their *** at the time of the bell and not contribute to the school make the same amount of money as the teachers that give countless hours to things slike football, science club, music/band etc....not sure if I totally agree with this, but at the end of the day, what is important to note is that you take this type of job for the kids, because people who take it for the lucrative perjks usually are garbagety teachers and make for a soiled system....

    the benefits are great and in most cases the teaching envronment is very rewarding and confortable....

    someone posted earlier about how many college/UNi profs do not mento such career choices because they are narrow minded within the pHD/research vein of career going... I disagree, in most cases it is a symptom of the quirky mad scientist type, however I was lucky in finding profs who thought a career in teaching was a great idea especially when you think of the impact you can have if you are a strong advocate of science education, research and awareness...nothing can be more inviting to pursuing a degree in science then a highschool who shows its joys.....in the long run it is a great highschool science teacher that invokes a student to keep freshmen science enrollment high, and then it is up to the Faculty and program at your college/Uni to keep the program vital with students..

    Anyhow I guess I don't understand the politics of teaching highschool in the US so I am not sure if my contribution is helpful (standardized testing results having an impact on salary?! what a crazy idea!....Or do you mean salary effected by participating in the administration of standardized testing?! that I can understand its a lot of extra work my advice is screw the politics and do it if you love it!)
  7. Feb 11, 2009 #6
    In the State of washington (and many others) we have a standardized test that everyone takes their sophmore year in highschool, and at least in part the schools funding is based on how well they do on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning. I believe the teachers salaries are at least indirectly effected in some way. What is unfortunate and a seperate issue is how standardized testing destroys public education. The teachers teach year after year according to these tests and a substantial portion of education is ommited so more time can be spent helping kids pass a rediculously easy test.
  8. Feb 12, 2009 #7
    Yeah I agree!

    Standardized testing, first off is never standardized, there are so many reasons to believe that make it impossible that everywhere in a state, the students are prepped for the test the same way, therefore, the distribution of peformance will not infer in most cases that all students are being exposed to the saem education!!!

    I guess the garbagetiest part is the students get ripped off; they are indoctrinated inWHAT to think instead of HOW to think!

    I think hat may be the largest issue Ifound in teaching,...its not that the students aren't capable, in most cases they aer truly not challenged to think on their own; to make informed educational decisions....all they care about what grade they got...its as if the students them self have realized in their subconscience (or perhaps their conscience) that its all a parade!
  9. Feb 12, 2009 #8


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    Similair problem in the UK.
    Maths PhD and 20years experience but no teaching certificate and you aren't qualified.
    Failed high school maths but have a teaching certificate and you can teach anything.


    note for Americans, English public school = private school (well it's our language - it doesn't have to make sense!)

    A bigger disincetive is that to make up for the missing/poor/unqualified teachers the teaching has been so dumbed down and regimented that the job now consists of clicking onto the next PowerPoint slide in a standardised curriculum so your students score the correct marks in the exams.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009
  10. Feb 12, 2009 #9
    Touche! my best teachers were definetely my Uni profs, and they didn't take any BEd training...maybe thats why...because even the Bachelors of Education programs spout off so much garbage that I rarely attended...I can still remember getting the email, informing me of my extremely poor attendance, and that I shoudl get to class so I do not pu tmy certification in jeopardy, meanwhile I was top of the class so go figure! Teachers are soo soft sometimes!

    heaven forbid the students feel an intrinsic motivation to learn something....

    kids are so damn bored in school these days...I guess I don't blame them, most teachers dance around like puppets squaking the latest trend in curriculum requirements!

    when I was young, I actually enjoyed reading, learnign about fascinatign thing...now days if it doesn';t echo facebook, twitter, myspace or the relatives of such web sites adn organizations, kids just don't give a damn....and worse is many parents do not enforce anything different, instead they enpower their ignorant children to hold their view...what view though?!

    Its like rebel without a cause...

    as a teacher your #1 prioirty is to advocate to your students to be informed, and to care !

    my buddy is teaching in the UK right now, he said theat if families can afford it they put their kids in private and/or enriched schools....apparently the public system is a wreck...but don't shoot the messenger!
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009
  11. Feb 12, 2009 #10


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    The problem in the UK (and I suspect elsewhere) comes out of attempts to improve schools.
    So parents can (in theory) choose which state schools to send their kids to.
    To enable parental choice the exams results are published in league tables.
    Schools with high exams get more kids and more funding, schools with low results are closed.
    So the ONLY requirement is to maximise exam scores (or at least table position)

    Then the games start:
    The tables list percentage of passes and 'A' grades - so you do mock exams and only enter the top few % of your students in the real exams. The rest never get the chance to take them.

    So they change the tables to include ALL results. So you make sure that your 'less academically gifted' students are all expelled for some minor disciplinary offense the day before the exams.

    This gets banned, so now you classify anybody who isn't going to get an 'A' as 'special ed' so their scores don't count.

    All this is unfair on inner city schools with lots of children that might not speak English. So the grades are adjusted for 'improvement'. This results in good schools conspiring with their feeder junior schools to classify all arriving 11year olds as almost retarded so whatever mark they get it's a huge improvement!

    If it wasn't kids futures at stake it would be quite an amusing game!
  12. Mar 19, 2009 #11
    How does society inspire more students to pursue careers in teaching Math and Science. I agree trash the standardized test. Humans are not cattle! At least that is what my 10th grade Bio teacher told me. By Introducing simple interactive Science and Math activities to children at the earliest possible age, More students develop an interest in these disciplines. With an honest explanation of the current trends while using in age appropriate language, more quailfied Math and Science teachers will appear. I am sure of it! I am optimist....Our future is bright!

    Mike Martin http://www.greenvillecofamily.com/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  13. Mar 20, 2009 #12
    Here in TN, they are even making students take an end-of-course (EOC) standardized test for each individual science course they take (if it is a standard approved course by the state's standards). I think it effects both student credit and teacher accountability... as well as school ranking in the state.

    The teachers I do outreach with are complaining pretty heavily... and some of them say their schools are trying to modify the courses names and descriptions so that an EOC can be avoided for "lower-level" students (since the schools fear a shift in ranking).
  14. Mar 21, 2009 #13
    Well, in Latvia there are also standardized exams after 12th grade in the sciences. Of course some are optional. Obligatory are Mathematics, Latvian, English, but Physics, Chemistry, Computer Programming etc are optional. However, I don't think these tests are a bad thing. They, especially in the sciences, are very difficult and require intensive study and conceptive knowledge of the subject to pass. One can't say that teachers are just preparing us for the tests. Well, they are, but they are teaching everything from the curriculum, without omitting anything because you never know what's going to be in the exam.

    However, the shortage of science and math teachers is dramatical here. For example, in my school, only physics teacher is 75 years old, and he has to teach every class from grade 8 to 12, and we have 4 parallel grades, which means that he has to teach 20 classes in total. 2 lessons per week for grades 8-9 and 3 lessons per week for grades 10-12, that is 52 lessons a week. A lesson is 40 minutes. He also has to correct tests, etc, because being a teacher doesn't mean just talking about the subject in the classroom. Same situation in chemistry, except our chemistry teacher is 60 years old. Now what should the students, that want to pass the physics exam, do? I, myself, am paying a hell of a fortune for private lessons with another teacher, so I'm quite optimistic about the exam, but that's no the situation for everyone.

    And the teacher's salary is ridiculous. Around 300 LVL a month (1 LVL roughly equals to 1 GBP). And even now, to save our country's economy, the government is thinking about reducing teachers' salaries. Now what a public outrage would that cause.

    Phew, I just wanted to tell about the exams in Latvia but in the end, my post turned into a rant.
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