From the Office of State Senator Dan Patrick

For Immediate Release
February 12, 2009

Contact: Court Koenning (512) 463-0107

New program encourages college students to become math and science teachers

AUSTIN – Today, Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) filed legislation to reverse the growing shortage of math and science teachers across the state of Texas.

Senate Bill 816 creates a scholarship program for college students pursuing degrees in math or science. The program would provide each recipient with an annual scholarship of up to $5,000 for four years. Upon graduation, the graduate would be required to teach math or science for four years in underserved areas of the state.

Recent studies on the shortage of teachers revealed the shortage is most felt in secondary math and science faculty. As an example, high school science teachers shortages have increased 80 percent since 2004.

"The shortage of math and science degreed teachers is forcing teachers without a strong background in these areas to fill the gaps," stated Senator Patrick. "Current certification exam results show almost half of prospective math and science teachers lack strong content knowledge of these fields."

"Today, more than one-third of high school science teachers are not certified to teach science," said Patrick. "Math and science are critical subjects that are best taught by teachers trained in those fields."

“When districts are experiencing shortages in subject areas such as math and science, it is far more constructive to find ways to help more people obtain the appropriate certification than to assign teachers out of field. The Texas Classroom Teachers Association supports Sen. Patrick’s proposal, and we look forward to working with him to develop solutions to teacher shortages,” said Holly Eaton, Texas Classroom Teachers Association Director of Professional Development and Advocacy.

Senator Florence Shapiro, (R-Plano) is a co-author of this bill. "For Texas to remain competitive in a global economy, we must provide our students with math and science teachers of the highest quality and strongest content knowledge. This bill will greatly help us reach this goal by encouraging individuals to enter the teaching field and to remain in the classroom," stated Senator Shapiro.