Accessibility links

Breaking News

EDUCATION REPORT – June 27, 2002: Teacher Shortage - 2002-06-26

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

American public schools do not have enough well-trained people to teach mathematics and science. Education experts say fewer than half the people currently teaching mathematics are well prepared. These teachers have not studied enough mathematics in college. Or they have not successfully completed examinations for mathematics teachers.

State and local governments supervise public schools in the United States. Almost thirty percent of current mathematics teachers do not have official state approval of their skills. Almost twenty percent of science teachers also lack this certification.

Schools in the richest areas of the nation have the money to hire the best mathematics and science teachers. However, other schools in crowded cities and small towns have problems finding good teachers.

Like many other areas of the nation, the state of California does not have enough mathematics teachers. However, mathematics requirements for students have increased. For example, high school students now must demonstrate skill in the mathematics subject called algebra or they cannot graduate.

To deal with this situation, California is employing people to work as emergency teachers. Some of these people work in private industry. Their employers pay them to teach mathematics in the public schools. Some emergency teachers have left other jobs to work in the schools.

These emergency teachers have strong mathematics skills. However, they lack intensive college preparation in mathematics. And many have never taught school before.

The city of Cleveland, Ohio, is dealing with the lack of mathematics and science teachers another way. Last year, the city employed fifty teachers newly arrived from India. They are highly trained people who have taught school in their native country. They have agreed to teach in the Cleveland schools for three years.

There are some problems. Sometimes the teachers and students have trouble understanding each other. Sometimes the students do not cooperate with the teachers. But only two of the Indian teachers have returned home. They did so for family reasons. School system officials say Cleveland schools are happy to have the Indian teachers.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Jerilyn Watson.