teaching profession. Although 55 percent of the respondents would at least consider careers as teachers, some are likely to lose interest in teaching as they proceed through college, particularly if they are interested enough in science, mathematics, or engineering to declare a major in one of these disciplines (Seymour and Hewitt, 1997). Further, the feedback given by the focus groups about their images of teachers and teaching was revealing. Students in the focus group recognized that, “for their entire careers, teachers remain at the level at which they began unless they decide to go into the administrative side of education. There is no higher position for which to strive, no room for promotion, and little opportunity for significant salary increases.” Hart Associates concluded, “While the polling results indicate that young people have little interest in being teachers, the focus group sessions—in which we hear the actual ‘voices’ of college-bound students—are especially sobering. Simply put, we are dealing with a generation of youth whose values, outlook, and career goals seemingly run counter to what it takes to be interested in teaching. On the one hand, most of these students profess admiration for the teaching profession; they understand that shaping young minds is important work. On the other hand, they view the job of being a teacher as work that is uninteresting.”
Thus, the Committee on Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation is convinced that the status quo in the education and professional development of teachers of science and mathematics does not meet the needs of either teachers or the teaching profession. Most importantly, current approaches to the various phases of teacher education do not and will not serve the needs of the nation’s students in the next decade and beyond. As many recent reports already have stated, improving teacher education and the treatment of teachers as professionals in science, mathematics, and technology will require the cooperation and collaboration of a multitude of disparate institutions, agencies, and organizations, many of which have had minimal contact with each other and few incentives to work together. If the United States genuinely values high-quality education for its children, its leaders and decision-makers should not allow the present state of affairs to persist.
Further, the committee’s reviews of the research data and of other reports and recommendations have led the members to conclude that teaching must involve continual professional development, growth, and progressive leadership responsibilities for teachers over the span of their careers. The committee’s vision of teacher education,