Howard Voss, Chair
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Arizona State University
10 June 1998 House Hearing

Finding, Training and Keeping Good Teachers


I do not come with easy, quick solutions or even much in the way of techniques; however I offer some comments as one who has had a four-decade career as a high school teacher, university teacher, teacher of teachers, and chair of a university teaching/research department.

We will need to recruit about two million K-12 teachers by 2007 and almost all grade school teachers are science teachers. That two million assumes that all recruited will stay in teaching. History indicates otherwise. Since teachers are effectively recruited while they are young, 2007 looks frighteningly near given the decade or more pipeline. The task will be especially hard because it is not acceptable to hire people to merely occupy the front of the classrooms as we have too often in the past.

I am convinced that nothing short of societal changes will do. We do not have campaigns to recruit lawyers, neurosurgeons, or physics professors (anymore).

National leadership is essential as is strong leadership by the higher education complex and by the professional and scientific societies, with help from industry and business. Creating the conditions for recruiting teachers is a shared responsibility.

In a previous hearing the most obvious cause was highlighted. The CEO of a high-tech company bemoaned his need to spend $70,000 to make foreign engineers eligible to work in America. He indicated that he could have hired an engineer with this money. Well, his local school could probably have hired two or three science teachers.

Other causese

Here is a list of some other causes:


We must make the profession attractive to the young people we want teaching our children. Let me start a list:


Recruitment of teachers is hindered by exactly the kind of things that cause teachers to leave the profession. Some suggestions:


My experiences amply show that a good source of science teachers is current and prospective non-science teachers willing to change fields. We will need the help of:


I would like to remind you of my themes. Recruitment of good science teachers on a sufficiently large scale only if:

See for the full written testimony.

Your comments and suggestions are appreciated.

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Finding, Training and Keeping Good Teachers
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