The national STEM teacher shortage threatens future prosperity

RealClearEducation posted a commentary that America’s competitiveness in the global economy depends on our ability to remain at the forefront of scientific discovery and technological production. Innovation in the STEM fields is so important to the national interest that, for decades, it has been a major priority for presidential administrations, state governments, business and industry leaders, and the education community.

Although American institutions and business continue to drive innovation in STEM fields, the ability of our public education system to sustain the pipeline of STEM talent that enables such innovation is very much in doubt. We have not done enough to address one of our most fundamental obstacles. We do not have nearly enough STEM teachers in our public schools.

More than half of the school districts in the U.S. report that they struggle to recruit and retain qualified STEM teachers. Here in Arizona, the shortage of STEM educators spans the entire K-12 education continuum and leaves classes on core STEM subjects like math, general science, biology and chemistry without knowledgeable teachers. For example, just 20 percent of eighth grade students have a teacher who majored in math. In fact, 40 percent of administrators surveyed by Morrison Institute at Arizona State University say that they have the most difficulty filling math teaching positions.