By Jordan Bienstock, CNN
(CNN)– President Obama’s administration has announced plans for a national Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps. The effort is part of the administration’s plan to recruit, recognize and reward leading educators in these fields.
Plans are for the STEM Master Corps to begin with 2,500 members - 50 teachers from each of 50 different sites - and then expand to 10,000 master teachers within four years. The Department of Education said it will work with nonprofit organizations, along with business partners and school districts, to identify teachers for the Corps through a competitive selection process.
Membership will require a multi-year commitment from educators, who will receive up to $20,000 in compensation above their base salary, as well as other rewards. In return, these teachers will be required to offer their expertise and leadership to promote and expand STEM education.
Administration officials say STEM Master Corps members will develop new lesson plans and strategies to improve science and math teaching. They will also run mentor programs for fellow STEM teachers and lead professional development programs.
Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said Republicans share President Obama’s goal of recruiting better teachers, but he raised concerns about funding an initiative that may duplicate current programs.
“A 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report identified 82 existing teacher quality programs,” said Alexandra Sollberger, Chairman Kline’s spokesperson. “Many of the programs overlap, and little effort has been made to determine whether the programs were actually effective.”
Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), a former science teacher, applauded the announcement of the STEM Master Teacher Corps.
“I know how important investing in STEM education is to our nation’s future,” Rep. Honda told CNN. He said that through initiatives like this one, “we are building a firm foundation of technologically literate and skilled Americans ready to continue American innovation and excellence.”
White House officials plan to launch the STEM Master Teacher Corps with $1 billion from President Obama’s 2013 budget request, which is currently before Congress.