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Senator Al Franken (D. MN) is pushing to build support from Minnesota teachers for his STEM Master Teacher Corps Act:

Sen. Al Franken says his favorite teacher in high school was Harold Hodgkinson.

He was “old school,” Franken told an audience of science teachers Friday afternoon at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Hodgkinson encouraged his students to take a methodical approach to solving problems.

“He told us to use a pencil and paper and figure it out,” Franken said.

Franken was speaking about Hodgkinson at a Minnesota Science Teachers Association conference and urging support for a bill that he hopes will help retain teachers in K-12 education and boost the number of students studying math and science for a career.

The bill Franken is pushing would work to fulfill President Obama’s goal to recruit and train 100,000 more teachers in science, technology, engineering and math fields in the next decade.

It works to retain teachers with higher salaries because they are often lured away from education. “Master teachers” would be created and used to mentor others. The bill would also focus on high-need schools and finding ways for institutions to pool for grants and other funding.

“We need to keep you in teaching,” Franken said, because the jobs of the future depend on people with science skills.

He said there are obvious signs that kids can and will pursue math and science. He said the robotics teams that are bubbling up from Minnesota high schools are a keen example. Today there are more varsity robotics teams than hockey teams in the state.

The crowd applauded that fact. - Duluth News Tribune, 2/22/13

Franken introduced his bill back in 2011.  Here's Franken speaking about the STEM Master Teacher Corps Act on the Senate floor:

Franken recently reintroduced the act to the Senate:

"As I travel across Minnesota, one thing I consistently hear from our high-tech businesses is that our students need to be ready to fill the jobs that will be waiting for them when they graduate," said Sen. Franken. "It's critical to invest in STEM education, but we also need to make sure we're getting the best return on that investment. Creating a STEM Master Teacher Corps will help ensure that our students are equipped with the skills they need by giving new STEM teachers role models to look up to and get advice from. At the same time, it will give more experienced and effective teachers support, advancement opportunities and recognition of their hard work."

In his State of the Union address, President Obama stressed the importance of STEM education to help give students "the skills today's employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future." Sen. Franken's bill, the STEM Master Teacher Corps Act, will help achieve that goal by establishing a STEM Master Teacher Corps for top STEM K-12 teachers. These master teachers would mentor beginning or less effective teachers, in addition to networking with one another and sharing best practices and classroom resources. Master teachers would also be compensated for their teaching skills and new leadership roles. -, 2/14/13

Franken's re-introduced bill is cosponsored by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).  The bill has been endorsed by more than 55 national and regional groups including  the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers to LifeScience Alley and the Science Museum of Minnesota.  According to the data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), 16 of the 20 fastest growing occupations will be tied to STEM disciplines.  In Minnesota alone, economic forecasts project that scientific and technical occupations will increase by at least twice the average growth rate over the next ten years.

Since 2011, Franken has been promoting the bill to different schools in Minnesota while also promoting his School Principal Recruitment and Training Act:

"My daughter became a teacher right out of college," through New York City's Teaching Fellows Program, Franken said. "She had a really good principal. It made an enormous difference."

That's why he introduced the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act, a measure that would fund a federal program that offers school districts competitive grants for principal training.

The legislation came from "research on principals and research on what made a good school, and how ... the ethos of the school was created by the principal," Franken told The Huffington Post in an interview in his office.

In addition to the principal training initiative, Franken has also introduced a measure that would bolster science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching. He hopes to roll it into the bigger markup bill.

He said he crafted the STEM initiative in part because he and his brother studied math and science, and because of his appreciation for logic, whether as a politician or as a comedian on Saturday Night Live.

"While we didn't go into math and science careers, I felt that there's actually a lot in my career that has to do with logic, like writing a joke," Franken said. He had also noticed that in Minnesota, STEM teaching jobs went unfilled.

Franken also introduced a measure that would prohibit discrimination in public schools on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. - Huffington Post, 7/28/11

If you would like to get more information on Senator Franken's STEM Master Teacher Corps Act or his School Principal Recruitment and Training Act, feel free to contact his office here:


Or you can call his office in D.C.: (202) 224-5641

And if you're a Minnesota resident, you can also contact any of his local offices:

Duluth Office: (218) 722-2390

NW Mobile Office: (218) 230-9487

Saint Cloud Office: (320) 251-2721

Saint Paul Office: (651) 221-1016

Saint Peter Office: (507) 931-5813

And if you want to donate to Al's re-election campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 10:06 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    Funny Stuff at

    by poopdogcomedy on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 10:06:37 PM PST

  •  i'm all for anything that gets money in schools (4+ / 0-)

    don't get me wrong, but i have to say it maddens me this persistent political emphasis on STEM at the expense of everything else, as if arts, humanities, social sciences, languages, civics, etc. are well funded and basically unimportant facets of education.

    the whole point of a public education is to nurture well-rounded minds to be capable of playing the role of well-informed self-gopverning citizens. can't do that by treating half of the course material as superfluous and underfunding it.

    •  don't look at it that way (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bgblcklab1, Mostel26, jim in IA, OregonOak

      Arts--yes they need more love and support too (but they can play to the technology part of stem if they are smart)

      I am a technology teacher. I call myself the left-handed, red-headed stepchild of education. Our equipment and needs are significantly more expensive than, say, literature (books vs. computers and other equipment) So even if we are funded at the same level as the rest of the school, it's nothing.

      When they schedule they consider the common core first--we get the times that don't work for those teachers. They (the education community) speak to standards, but ours are all over the map. I think I speak for many STEM teachers when I say we figure out how to make our curriculums work with the common core--it's a collaborative thing.

      Funding STEM primarily with an eye to keep teachers in schools is a good idea. My pay would probably more than double if I took my skills to the business sector. Seeing as many districts pay on education and time this might trickle over to other teachers as well.

      So funding one section adds to the pie, it doesn't necessarily take away from the rest of it.

      •  Pandora's box being opened (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jim in IA

        It isn't just STEM teachers that could leave to get paid more than double to work in the private sector. I could easily double my salary by going to work in law.  The English teacher across the hall from me is a published playwright.  One of our art teachers could take over a rather large family owned sign making business.  The STEM Master Teacher Program is a great start, but why not write a bill to fund master teachers across all subject areas? Paying teachers in different instructional areas or grade levels more money than their colleagues starts to destroy the strong levels of collaboration and cohesion needed to take a school from a mere place of work to a great institution of teaching and learning.

      •  Either/Or Thinking is America's Hobgoblin.. (0+ / 0-)

        We dont do "Both" very well when it comes to our rhetoric.

        I agree with KarlawithaK. Technology demands more funding due to the levels of equipment, space and preparation it takes to actually devise a daily lesson (and every day after day after day after day in succession.. mind boggling task) which will work for kids.

        My hat is off to the tech teachers of America who still remain. As an English teacher, my job would be SO much more effective if the tech oriented kids were building things, going to conferences, interacting with each other, rubbing shoulders in competitions and cooperations and actually HAD some Humanity to write about and think about and apply their literature to.

        This is not Either/Or people, it is both.

        Maybe that is the wedge that Al Franken has discovered to enable BOTH tech/science/math and liberal arts/humanitis to regain some traction in America. For now, I will settle with my side of the ledger being acknowledged as we rebuild tech and science education, with an eye to fully funding the promise of humanities education to complement and fortify technology education.

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 06:09:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I taught physics 38 yrs in IL and IA. (3+ / 0-)

    I saw the push for more science and math Ed when Sputnik flew. Those initiatives were good. They bore fruit and had impact on me, first as a student, then as a teacher. We have drifted away from that and need to renew our efforts.

    I am glad to see Franken working toward this. It is an uphill climb. About half of his colleagues think government should not be in education. It should be left to private efforts of families and corporations. We need all three areas working smoothly together. Good luck Al.

    Thanks for the diary.

    Predicting is hard...especially the future. ~ Y. Berra

    by jim in IA on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 05:46:01 AM PST

  •  One more reason I am glad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I worked hard to get Senator Franken elected. He has been consistent in his focus on down to earth solutions to our most pressing problems. Thanks Al!!

    I don't hit. But I do hit back

    by mcgee85 on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 08:13:32 AM PST

  •  Where's Mrs. Molin?? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Minnesotans will remember this charming lady from his campaign ad:

    "I believe they talked of me, for they laughed consumedly."--George Farquhar

    by slapshoe on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 11:18:06 AM PST

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