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Sen. Cornyn Recognizes UTeach Efforts

Sen. Cornyn Recognizes UTeach Efforts
AUSTIN—United States Senator John Cornyn cited the partnership between UTeach—The University of Texas at Austin’s innovative science and math teacher preparation program—and the Austin Independent School District (AISD) as exemplary in meeting the nation’s need for highly trained science, math and computer science secondary school teachers.

Cornyn, R-Texas, visited Austin High School to highlight UTeach and AISD’s efforts.

He was joined by Michael Houser, assistant superintendent of AISD, Mary Ann Rankin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, and other representatives from the university’s UTeach program.

“As the home to some of the world’s leading technology companies, Austin must continue to generate talented professionals skilled in math, science and computer science,” said Cornyn. “One challenge, in Austin and across the state, is a major shortfall in the production of certified math and science teachers who have come through the traditional process.

“Thankfully, due to the innovation and collaboration of AISD and The University of Texas at Austin’s UTeach program, efforts are already underway to recruit and prepare high school students for a degree in math or science education. I applaud the efforts of AISD, UTeach and the Austin High School teachers I visited with today in meeting this important need. I will continue to do my part in the U.S. Senate to support and implement education policies that place more control in the hands of local administrators and teachers, while increasing the investment of federal resources in math and science education.”

Cornyn has worked on several legislative initiatives to complement and support the important efforts of UTeach and AISD. Among other initiatives, he was an original cosponsor of the America COMPETES Act, which was signed into law on August 9, 2007, and authorizes over $30 billion to invest in science, technology, engineering and math research and education programs.

The new law focuses on three primary areas of importance to maintaining and improving our nation’s innovation in the 21st Century: increasing research investment; strengthening educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from elementary through graduate school; and developing an innovation infrastructure.

“I very much appreciate Senator Cornyn’s work to address a critical shortage of math and science teachers in our schools,” said AISD superintendent Dr. Pat Forgione. “Austin ISD has been very fortunate to benefit from the excellent classroom educators that the UTeach program has developed, and we appreciate Senator Cornyn’s leadership in making the program even more successful.”

UTeach began as a pilot program for training secondary math and science teachers in 1997 with 28 students and now enrolls over 500 students. The program graduates around 70 secondary mathematics and science teachers per year, more than double the number who graduated before UTeach began. Keys to the program’s success include: early field experience; teacher certification in concert with a math, science or computer science degree; use of experienced high school and middle school STEM teachers as a part of the UTeach staff and faculty, and financial support for students. Over 85 percent of UTeach graduates enter teaching, and over 70 percent are still teaching five years later, compared with 50 percent nationally.

“We’re very proud that UTeach is being replicated at 13 universities across the country in collaboration with the National Math and Science Initiative using grant funds from ExxonMobil, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Texas Education Agency and the Greater Texas Foundation,” said Dr. Mary Ann Rankin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “It is also being informally copied at numerous other universities.

“If funded, the America COMPETES legislation would help support these replication efforts. We are most grateful for Senator Cornyn’s sponsorship of this legislation, particularly “Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow,” a section of the bill that would provide funds for teacher preparation programs similar to UTeach.”
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Tuesday, 07 February 2023

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