|Gordon, Alexander: America competes
|Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2007 3:22 pm
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Middle Tennessee State University played host Thursday to two national lawmakers who explained how new legislation will help educate future educators and students in math and science.
U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon and U.S. Sen. Lemar Alexander speak to voters Aug. 30, 2007, at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (TMP Photo/K. Hite) .
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon explained how the America Competes Act will fund the math and science educations of the next generation and reposition the nation as a technology powerhouse.
“There is no other piece of legislation that is more important to the nation’s future,” Alexander said.
It’s the future of teachers that is most impacted by the legislation that was signed into law by President George W. Bush Aug. 8. The legislation passed after a year and a half of bipartisan work by Gordon and Alexander, and it aims to stimulate America’s economy by funding education and research in the fields of science and math.
“Our challenge now is to take care of education … and making sure the next generation is ready for high tech jobs,” said Holly Sears, director of economic development at the Rutherford County of Commerce.
The America Competes Act provides $48 billion over the next three years to double science and math education spending, Alexander explained.
It will provide 250,000 stipends for teachers per year to pursue a master’s degree or certificate in math or science. It will also encourage college students with scholarships for teaching math or science for five years after graduation, Gordon said.
“We’ve got to do a better job to raise the skill level of teachers,” he added.
The legislation is based on National Academies’ 2005 report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm.”
The report, which was commissioned by Gordon and Alexander, along with other legisators, stated the United States will loose its foothold as the world’s leading economy unless more is invested in science and technology education.
The report found that two-thirds of America’s elementary students were not proficient in math. It also found 93 percent of the students in fifth through ninth grades receive science class from a teacher who is not certified or trained to teach the subject.
“My daughter and Lamar’s grandchildren could be part of the first generation of children who could inherit a lower standard of living than their parents,” Gordon said.
The legislation seeks to increase skill levels of the next generation by ensuring teachers are properly qualified in math, science and engineering, Gordon said.
“It’s most important and appropriate because of MTSU’s role in educating the state’s best and brightest,” University President Sidney McPhee said. “MTSU, of course, educates the largest majority of teachers in the state.”
MTSU Vice President Kaylene Gebert explained MTSU’s position as the leading educator of educators in the state and described the efforts the university is making to draw more students into teaching math and sciences.
“We are going to educate the next generation of math and science students,” she said. The university hopes to double or triple the number of math and science educators with the help of the new legislation and a new math and science building.