In a live interview this morning on NBC's Today Show, President Obama said that he has set a goal of recruiting 10,000 new teachers in the STEM fields over the next two years.
The White House later issued a press statement providing a bit more information, though it doesn't explain what in particular the Obama administration will do to help accomplish the goal.
"When I came into office, I set a goal of moving our nation from the middle to the top of the pack in math and science education," he said. "Strengthening STEM education is vital to preparing our students to compete in the 21st century economy, and we need to recruit and train math and science teachers to support our nation's students."
The statement explains that President Obama has three "overarching priorities" for improving education in science, technology, engineering, and math:
• Increase STEM literacy among U.S. students;
• Improve the quality of math and science teaching; and
• Expand STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and minorities.
The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology earlier this month issued a detailed report with recommendations to improve the federal role in advancing STEM education.
It says: "The Federal Government should set a goal of ensuring over the next decade the recruitment, preparation, and induction support of at least 100,000 new STEM middle and high school teachers who have strong majors in STEM fields and strong content-specific pedagogical preparation, by providing vigorous support for programs designed to produce such teachers."
To be clear, improving STEM education is not a new issue for Obama. He's frequently discussed the matter since taking office and late last year unveiled a public-private initiative called Educate to Innovate to help generate more assistance from the private sector.
[UPDATE (3:20 p.m.): Secretary Arne Duncan, in a conversation with Tom Brokaw on MSNBC this afternoon, went into more detail on how the department will help recruit some of those new mathematics and science teachers. It involves a new website and a partnership with Facebook to connect current and aspiring teachers.]