September 26, 2006
For immediate release
With leadership from Dean Jane Close Conoley of the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and Martin Moskovits, Dean of Science, UC Santa Barbara is launching an ambitious program – the Science and Mathematics Initiative (SMI) – to increase the development of mathematics and science teachers for California secondary schools. The five year goal is to increase the quantity and quality of science and math teachers produced by UCSB’s Teacher Education Program from the current 20 to 100 per year. For California to remain competitive, especially in the industries that drive our state’s economic growth, its educational institutions need to work together to develop a workforce with the knowledge and critical skills required by an economy becoming increasingly reliant on science, engineering and mathematics.
Part of a UC-wide initiative, the UCSB effort is unique in its focus on recruitment of undergraduate science, mathematics, and engineering students into the teaching profession with specially designed introductory courses and a completely revised education minor. Participants in the program will be able to finish requirements for their majors and be prepared to enter a teaching internship program within four years. The first course to investigate mathematics or science teaching and learning will be available in the winter quarter 2007.
Dean Conoley says, “The campus community has been remarkably willing and able to conceptualize an entirely new process to attract, support, and develop a new generation of science and mathematics teachers. This is a vital step to meeting the overwhelming needs of California schools for highly quality teachers in math and science.”
According to a National Science Board report, in 1975 the United States ranked 3rd among nations surveyed in the number of 18-24 year-olds who earned natural science and engineering degrees. In 2004 the U.S. ranked 17th. This precipitous drop is just one example of the crisis in math, science, and engineering education facing this country.
California and the nation are lagging behind international peers in the production of engineers, scientists, and mathematicians. US students compare poorly in international testing comparisons in mathematics and science. A key problem is the scarcity of well prepared teachers. The UC Santa Barbara effort supports the UC System commitment to produce 1000 science and math teachers annually for California schools.
Dr. Julie Bianchini, a science educator and associate professor in the Gevirtz School, serves as the faculty director of the program. An advisory faculty panel representing mathematics and all the sciences oversees the initiative. For more information about the UC Santa Barbara program see the SMI website; for more information about the statewide “One Thousand Teachers, One Million Minds” program.
[Julie Bianchini is available for interviews; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789.]