The California Teach program - sometimes known as the Science/Math Initiative - will put 1,000 new middle school and high school science and math teachers into California school systems each year once it reaches its capacity in 2010. That’s four times the number of secondary science and math teachers the UC system currently produces each year. The need for the increase is crucial; California currently scores last in the country in eighth-grade science education and seventh from last in mathematics.
Nine UC campuses are participating in the California Teach program, and although it’s the newest and smallest UC, Merced is committed to doing its part.
California Teach aligns with where UC Merced needs to be long-term, said UC Merced Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost David Ashley. We believe it will attract students from the Valley and prove important to the future of education in this region.
Each California Teach campus will determine how to implement the program, guided by a few overarching program ideas. Field experience in K-12 classrooms supervised by mentor teachers will be an important component, as will special programs focusing on discipline-specific teaching methods.
Professor Arnold Kim, a mathematics professor in the School of Natural Sciences, is the faculty director for the program at UC Merced.
Our next step is to get into the community, working with teachers and establishing relationships so that students can have the mentored teaching experiences they need, said Kim, who will also be meeting soon with faculty directors from other UC campuses to learn how they have fit California Teach into their existing infrastructure.
A few UC Merced students have already expressed interest in California Teach. Kim thinks that number will grow as the program gains prominence and as UC Merced gains students.
We have a great opportunity to provide a viable and needed career option, Kim said. The program offers a workable path to send some of our best and brightest students out to give back to our communities in a real and substantial way. Students from so many different majors can participate, and many people on campus will have a chance to interact with and support them. That’s what I want to encourage.