The race is on to train the number of educators qualified to teach science, technology, engineering and math that will be required to prepare U.S. students for the future.
With more than 100,000 job openings in schools across the United States, teachers in STEM-related fields are a hot – and desperately needed – commodity.
“There’s an urgency to meet this target because our schools have to better prepare kids for the future where the economy will largely be driven by STEM-based jobs,” Talia Milgrom-Elcott, executive director of 100Kin10, told CNN Money.
Milgrom-Elcott is right. STEM jobs, those requiring a degree in science, technology, engineering or math, are growing more rapidly than other jobs in the United States. The average pay for STEM jobs is $85,570, nearly double that of other occupations ($47,230).
It’s anticipated that STEM-based industry and jobs will continue to grow, so reaching students now and getting them interested in STEM fields is imperative.
“We have to give kids a solid STEM foundation by fourth grade,” Judith Fraivillig, associate professor at Rider University in New Jersey, told CNN Money. “That’s typically when they decide they either love or hate math and science.”
Rider University is one of more than 230 partners of 100Kin10. Public and private partners include corporations, universities and nonprofits, who are working together to meet the need for STEM teachers.
In the past four years, 100Kin10 and its partners have helped train and place roughly 28,000 STEM teachers in schools, CNN Money reports.
In 2014, Rider University launched a nine-month program to train new STEM teachers. Fraivillig said about a dozen of its participants are already in the field teaching kids.
“We have our work cut out for us,” Milgrom-Elcott said. “As the economy improves, it will be harder to attract people to teaching. But I’m optimistic that we’re building the momentum to get us there.”
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