- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 6, 2010

President Obama on Wednesday announced new partnerships with major companies, universities and government agencies in his effort to make U.S. students among the world’s best in math and science over the next decade.

The five partnerships, which amount to roughly $250 million in money and in-kind support, will attract top educators in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM fields. The partnerships include foundations and nonprofit groups and are part of the president’s “Educate to Innovate campaign, which he announced in November. The new initiatives will add to the $260 million already committed.

The Obama administration said the public-private partnerships will rely on proven models to prepare more than 10,000 new math and science teachers over the next five years and will support the professional development of roughly 100,000 teachers already in STEM fields.

“The quality of math and science teachers is the most important single factor influencing whether students will succeed or fail in science, technology, engineering and math,” Mr. Obama said. “Passionate educators with issue expertise can make all the difference, enabling hands-on learning that truly engages students — including girls and underrepresented minorities.”

The administration estimates that roughly a million math and science teachers must be recruited over the next five years, with vacancies in math and science among the hardest to fill.

The five partnerships are Intels Science and Math Teachers Initiative; Expansion of the National Math and Science Initiatives UTeach Program; a Commitment of Public University Presidents to Train 10,000 Math and Science Teachers Annually by 2015; the PBS Innovative Educators Challenge; and Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships in Math and Science.

The Intel initiative, valued at $200 million, will help train math and science educators in all 50 states and will include Web-based instruction and an intensive, professional-development course in math for elementary-school teachers.

As part of the initiative, the president asked the federal government’s roughly 200,000 scientists and engineers eight months ago to volunteer alongside STEM educators. NASA has started a multiyear Summer of Innovation enrichment program in response the challenge.

The president made the announcement at a midday White House event in which he also honored more than 100 outstanding math and science educators.

“To continue to cede our leadership in education is to cede our leadership in the world,” Mr. Obama said.

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