Giving Compass' Take:

• The shortage of STEM teachers in the United States disproportionately impacts poor and minority students, preventing them from accessing some education opportunities with high financial returns. These steps can be taken to reduce the shortage nationwide, especially in those communities where it is most needed. 

• How can philanthropists support work at the school, local, state, and national levels to increase the number of STEM teachers? How can a better path be formed from STEM education to STEM teaching positions? 

• Learn about some of the difficulties of successfully changing the face of STEM. 

In the next decade, almost all of the 30 fastest-growing occupations will require intermediate or advanced knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics (STEM).

Unfortunately, access to a high-quality STEM education is deeply inequitable, limiting opportunities for students while they are still in high school. A quarter of high schools with the highest percentage of African-American and Latino students don’t offer Algebra II — a prerequisite for many higher-level STEM courses — and a third of these schools do not offer chemistry.

One reason schools struggle to provide access to STEM courses is a shortage of effective STEM educators.

  1. Teacher shortages must be understood — and addressed — at the local level: Often, local teacher shortage numbers are artificially depressed by the lack of STEM offerings in schools.
  2. STEM majors need better incentives to become STEM teachers — and stay in the classroom: Graduates with STEM backgrounds typically have many career options that are higher-paying and perceived as more prestigious than teaching.
  3. STEM teacher preparation programs should focus more on content-specific pedagogy and match production goals to local needs: Learning to teach well looks different across content areas, grade levels, and localities.
  4. Organizations must work together to increase awareness of this urgent shortage: Though the causes and manifestations of the STEM teacher shortage differ across localities, the impact on students in low-income communities and students of color across the country is widespread and pernicious.

Read the full article about the STEM teacher shortage by Melissa Moritz and Emily Weiss at The 74.