April 24, 2014

Luring math & science scholars into teaching

The dean of the University of Northern Iowa’s College of Education is asking legislators to consider “front-end” tuition enticement for students who study to become teachers in hard-to-hire courses.

Governor Branstad has proposed tuition reimbursement of up to $20,000 when a student graduates from college, intending to teach math or science, but Dwight Watson — the dean of UNI’s College of Education — says offering that tuition reimbursement when a talented math or science student enrolls in college may prompt more to consider teaching.

“There might be some kids who say, ‘Well, I really like science.’ And we say: ‘Have you ever thought of teaching?’” Watson says. “…That’s the kind of student we want to attract, who has those interests and propensities, but really hasn’t thought about teaching, but knowing this money is an incentive, might make that decision.”

The federal government already is offering up to $16,000 worth of grants for students who promise to teach science or math in a school district with few teachers who have those skills. Last year 643 UNI students received a federal TEACH grant. Only one other public university in the country had more students getting TEACH grants from the federal government.

That $16,000 federal grant coupled with a state grant of up to $20,000 could be the equivalent of a full-ride scholarship for some Iowa college students who promise to teach math or science.