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STEM Professionals Urged to Consider Move to Classroom

On Capitol Hill yesterday, a House panel examined efforts that encourage experts in the STEM professions to transition from jobs in industry to new careers in teaching (or consider serving as mentors).

"Individuals who have spent time in a STEM profession bring a unique perspective to the classroom and can make a great contribution to our STEM education efforts," Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican who chairs the House Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, said in a press release. At the same time, he cautioned that "good teaching requires an additional and special set of knowledge and skills."

The panel invited five witnesses to discuss teaching in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—including former software engineer Christine Sutton, who now teaches secondary math and computer science in Huntsville, Ala.

"As a parent, I had many opportunities to volunteer at my children's schools and to help their friends with math assignments," she said, according to the press release. "I was amazed by how many students (and adults) disliked math and believed that I could transfer my love of problem solving to the classroom to change attitudes and build confidence."

At EdWeek, we've recently highlighted some efforts aimed, at least in part, at recruiting and preparing professionals from other fields for new careers in teaching, including two fellowship programs: Math For America and the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship program.

UPDATE (1:05 p.m.)
Speaking of STEM and Congress, I just learned that Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) this week introduced the STEM Education Innovation Act of 2011.

The bill would:

• Create an Office of STEM Education at the U.S. Department of Education;

• Institute a state consortium bringing together states to take the lead in shaping best practices in STEM education; and

• Establish the Education Innovation Project to promote the development of "transformational technologies" for the classroom by providing grants to develop ed-tech innovations for STEM education.

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