WASHINGTON, July 18 (UPI) -- The Obama administration said Wednesday it is dedicating $100 million to a new national corps to reward science, technology, engineering and math teachers.
The STEM Master Teacher Corps will begin with 50 master teachers established in 50 sites and will be expanded to reach 10,000 master teachers during the next four years, the administration said in a release.
"If America is going to compete for the jobs and industries of tomorrow, we need to make sure our children are getting the best education possible. Teachers matter, and great teachers deserve our support," the president said.
The administration said it will "immediately dedicate approximately $100 million of the existing Teacher Incentive Fund toward helping school districts implement high-quality plans to establish career ladders that identify, develop and leverage highly effective STEM teachers."
Students in America are being outperformed by students in China and South Korea, and they need investments to prepare better for college and a career, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters on a conference call.
Duncan said the corps will "elevate teaching as a profession" with the goal of preparing 100,000 additional STEM teachers in the next decade. He said the program will provide stipends of as much as $20,000 above the recipient's base salary, "rewarding and ultimately respecting teachers in schools across the nation."
He said the program will focus on high-need subjects in high-need communities, noting science, technology and math are high-demand fields for both teaching and job growth.
"This has nothing to do with politics. ... We're fighting for our country," Duncan said, adding he anticipates Congress will come together to do a "much better job in this area."
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