Stillwater News Press

Opinion

March 15, 2014

OUR VIEW: OSUTeach critical for state’s economy

STILLWATER, Okla. — Science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in Oklahoma got a boost Monday when Oklahoma State University announced its OSUTeach program.

OSU is the only university in the state and one of just 40 in the nation to be selected by the National Math and Science Initiative and UTeach Institute to prepare tomorrow’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers for elementary and secondary education.

The National Math and Science Initiative awarded a $1.4 million grant to OSU to launch the program. The Charles and Lynn Shusterman Family Foundation in Tulsa contributed a $600,000 gift to support it.

University President Burns Hargis said OSU is committed to raising at least $1 million more.

“This program is going to have a significant impact on our students in both the colleges of Education and Arts & Sciences and on common education across Oklahoma,” Hargis said.

Gov. Mary Fallin, an OSU alum, was on hand Monday when the announcement was made. She said STEM subjects are critical in order for Oklahoma to build a stronger and better work force.

“OSUTeach will go a long way in accomplishing this by focusing training on teachers who are engaged in STEM and they, in turn, will pass on their passion and enthusiasm for these subjects to their students,” she said.

The OSUTeach program will play a key role in STEM education in Oklahoma. It will create teachers who can pass their passion for STEM to their students.

But, it is just a piece of the puzzle.

Science, technology, engineering and math teachers can earn much more money working in private enterprise than teaching. Dedication to education can only go so far.

Fallin and state legislators must find a method or methods to increase teacher salaries. They could do so by committing more state tax dollars to common education or work to remove or raise the 35 mill cap on property taxes to give local school boards the option of improving teacher salaries district-by-district.

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