There has been an impending teacher shortage crisis since the mid 1980's. The magnitude of the problem, its cause, and its remedies has been a topic of intense debate amongst policymakers, education leaders and scholars. Accordingly, the national response has been far reaching. The federal government provided and still provides loan forgiveness to offset the cost of teacher preparation in high needs subjects and high needs districts. The Department of labor funds Transition To teaching Grants to recruit and retain new teachers in high poverty school districts. Math and Science Partnerships (MSP) are charged to focus on university - school district collaboration in order to enhance the quality, quantity and diversity of the math and science teacher.
On the state level, New Jersey launched its Provisional Teacher Certificate program in 1985. Other states, universities and non-profit organizations followed suit in developing what we generally call alternative routes to certification. Today 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, produce roughly 60,000 teachers per year through 485 programs. Of the most recognized efforts are Teach For America and the New Teacher Project which began in 1990 and 1997 respectively. Each boasts of having produced a total of more than 20,000 today.
Industry has responded as well. IBM launched its own Transition To Teaching program, providing $15,000 toward teacher preparation for employees interested in changing careers. The Exxon/Mobile foundation committed 125 million to expand UTeach, a program of the University of Texas at Austin, as a national model.
All the while, policy makers, education leaders and scholars have offered myriad recommendations. In 2003, The National Education Association released a comprehensive review of recruitment strategies - from marketing campaigns and differentiated pay for high needs subjects, to reduced mortgage loan rates for teachers and partnerships with universities. Simultaneously, headlines have cited the need for more teachers - math and science teachers in particular. In 1998, the National Center for Education Statistics predicted that at least 2 million teachers would be needed by 2008. Recently, in 2007, The Business-Higher Education Forum projected that the U.S. will need over 280,000 math and science teacher by 2015.In all that has be said and done, there are few, if any, recommendations or programs to systematically use math and science teachers to promote the math and science teaching career in their school setting. In the midst of a looming national crisis, teacher-driven, school or district based efforts may be the proverbial unturned stone.