WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing today on building a high-tech workforce, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Committee, said that she plans to introduce legislation to encourage colleges and universities to adopt an innovative program started in 1997 at the University of Texas at Austin, called UTeach, as a way to better prepare secondary science, math and computer science teachers.
“Texas is home to a unique program that prepares math and science teachers by effectively combining undergraduate degrees in the science and technology fields with teacher certification,” said Senator Hutchison. “I plan to introduce legislation soon that will create a grant program to encourage colleges and universities to adopt the UTeach program. This would help colleges and universities to recruit and prepare students who major in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics to become certified as elementary and secondary school teachers. This program has become the national benchmark for teaching excellence and has been mentioned in several high profile studies including the National Academies’ ‘Rising Above the Gathering Storm’ report.”
Senator Hutchison noted that a solid foundation for a scientifically literate workforce begins with developing outstanding K-12 teachers in science and mathematics. She said that while an American high school student has a high likelihood of being taught English by a teacher with a degree in English, that same student has only about a 40 percent chance of studying chemistry with a teacher who was a chemistry major.
“Science and technology are at the core of America’s ability to compete in an increasingly globalized economy,” Senator Hutchison said. “These subjects are crucial to solving many of the challenges we face as a nation in areas such as energy independence, biotechnology, and healthcare. By increasing our focus on these crucial areas, we will allow our nation to play an essential role in fostering an innovation-based economy. Unfortunately, primary and secondary schools frequently fail to produce enough students with the interest, motivation, knowledge, and skills they will need to succeed in the 21st Century’s global economy. I think by working together, we can make America even more competitive and innovative than it is today.”
You can watch Senator Hutchison’s statement here.