RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — The Sid W. Richardson Foundation has awarded a $200,000 grant to two University of Texas institutions in the Rio Grande Valley as a first step in addressing a severe shortage of middle and high school math and science teachers in South Texas.
The grant, awarded to the UTeach programs at UT Brownsville and UT Pan American, specifically aims to cut into the math and science teacher deficit in South Texas, which historically has had high poverty and unemployment rates. The UTeach project was launched in 2012 by the UT Board of Regents with a five-year, $4 million commitment.
UTeach is a nationally acclaimed science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teacher preparation program aiming to funnel more students into STEM careers, said UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.
The teacher preparation program has been designed so that students will complete their degree program and secure teacher certification within four years.
By 2016, when the first class of 2012 freshmen will be graduating, projections are that UTeach Pan American will have matriculated 42 STEM teachers, while Brownsville UTeach will have graduated 35. Once the program is fully operational, projections are that there will be 107 graduates a year who will have a direct impact on some 175,000 middle and high school students every year.
A number of studies directly link the quality of science and mathematics education to the nation's ability to drive innovation and retain its top position in the global economy.