Math for America: At what price success?

See all posts

What started as a great idea for recruiting some high quality math and science teachers into the secondary system may be the next unfortunate victim of the higher ed grinder. Math for America, a non-profit that helps recruit math and science teachers for the nation's public schools, may be getting significant attention--to the tune of $3.2 billion in appropriations from Congress.

With the bipartisan support of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. James Saxton (R-NJ), a bill was passed in the Senate on April 25 to boost the salaries of 8,000 new highly-knowledgeable math and science teachers by upwards of $20,000 a year--and reward an additional 8,000 current math and science teachers, considered "outstanding" by some measure, with the same salary hike.

The idea includes requiring that new teachers pass a "rigorous national subject matter exam" (though the test was not identified), demonstrate strong verbal skills and commit to teach in a public school for four years.

But wait, wait, we can't let these people walk in off the street into the classroom!

Higher ed has managed to burrow its way into the proposal, getting the Feds to agree to also subsidize the tuition and fees towards a master's degree for these teachers. Like their counterparts in the states, no one on either side of the aisle has bothered to ask about the return on this considerable federal investment, despite the fact that 50 years of studies have yet to produce a measurable link between master's degrees and teacher effectiveness.

Just our tax dollars at work.