Science Education Revisited

Science Education Revisited
Once again.the Maryland State Department of Education. which has done virtually nothing to
relieve the State’s chronic shortage of qualified high school science teachers. has released its biannual
Teacher Staffing Report. Pages 87 through 90 of the Report contains statistics showing
that the state’s high schools offer only 355 physics classes. as against 2.340 chemistry classes and
4.965 in biology. Notwithstanding this. 15.8% of the small cadre of physics teachers are deemed
not highly qualified: the same is true for 17.9% of chemistry teachers and 11.3% of mathematics
teachers. ( By contrast. less thall 4% of elementary education. art. and political science teachers
art! not highly qualified).
The reasons for this are two-fold: the absence of salary supplements for teachers in scarce
disciplines and the onerous certification requirements requiring a year of virtually worthless
education courses in order to enter teaching. Among the subdivisions reporting recruiting
difficulties in obtaining physics teachers are Anne Arundel. Baltimore County. Howard. Kent.
Montgomery and Wicomico Counties.
The State. to be sure. has Alternate Certification Programs. Last year. these recruited only 560
teachers. a drop from 674 the year before. 475 of these were recruited by only two jurisdictions.
Baltimore City· and Prince Georgc’s County (p.60). The reason for this is that COMAR requires local school boards to sponsor alternate certification programs. which
union-influenced local boards are loath to do: …. only those candidates in those content areas that
represent a local hiring need are accepted into the programs.” (p.58) The closed shop marches on:
incumbent teachers are protected from competition from more-qualified liberal arts and
science graduates who are not anointed bv the education schools. This is the state of things after
the ten-year reign of Doctor of Education Grasmick. It is no accident that the two subdivisions
sponsoring the most important programs are the only two whose superintendents are not required
to have completed two years or graduate work in education {Education article, sec. 4-201 c. The
crying need for science teachers ·is suggested by the fact that 273 of the 560 alternatively-certified
teachers in 2010-11 are in science and mathematics (p.58).

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