Ever since the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into orbit on Oct. 4, 1957, America has been struggling to recruit and retain STEM teachers in its public middle and high schools.
In the 2017-2018 school year, approximately 100,000 teacher jobs in STEM – or science, technology, engineering and mathematics – went unfilled at the high school level. At the middle school level, there were about 150,000 unfilled STEM educator jobs.
The situation has been getting progressively worse over the past decade or so. For instance, in the 2011-2012 school year, 19% of public schools were unable to fill a teaching position for biology or life sciences. By the 2020-2021 school year, that number had grown to 31%. The situation was similar for other subjects, going from 19% to 32% for mathematics, and 26% to 47% for physical sciences, such as physics, geology and engineering.
Science shortages were a problem even before Sputnik, but the launch served as a wake-up call. Three months afterward, President Dwight D. Eisenhower stated during his Special Message to the Congress on Education that federal action was necessary to educate more science and mathematics teachers.
Read the full article here.