ERIC Identifier: ED260870
Publication Date: 1984-09-00
Author: Rodriquez, Irene V.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Rural Education and Small Schools Las Cruces NM.
Hispanics in Math and Science: Attracting Student Teachers and
Retraining Experienced Teachers.
Hispanics comprise less than two percent of the mathematics and science
teachers currently employed in school districts throughout the United States.
This digest reviews a variety of strategies that might be employed by school
districts, teacher education institutions, and state educational agencies to
attract, train, and retrain Hispanics in math and science.
WHY DO WE NEED HISPANIC MATH AND SCIENCE TEACHERS?
The shortage of qualified Hispanic math and science teachers is one of the
most pressing problems faced by schools in the United States today. Public
school teaching has been an avenue available to Hispanics for many decades, but
data provided by the National Association of Secondary School Principals
indicate that Hispanics comprise less than two percent of chemistry, physics,
and biology teachers currently employed (Neil, 1982). If knowledge of science
and mathematics is the door to modern technology and progress, then Hispanic
children must have models and mentors in these areas if they are to achieve
parity in a growing technological world.
HOW CAN HISPANIC YOUTH BE ATTRACTED TO MATH AND SCIENCE TEACHING?
A variety of ideas have been suggested to meet the short-term needs of school
districts regarding Hispanic math and science teachers. However, the long-term
solution lies in attracting high school graduates into the teaching profession,
particularly into the fields of science and mathematics. The following list of
action-oriented steps is derived from a variety of plans and programs that have
been suggested to implement this goal.
--Identify talented Hispanic high school students. Teacher education programs
at colleges and universities need to work with public school districts to
identify Hispanic youth that show promise or skill in either mathematics or
--Develop their interest in teaching. Hispanic youth that have been
identified as particularly interested or able in science or math must be
introduced to the teaching profession while still in high school. Individualized
programs must be developed where these students work closely with "master"
science and math teachers. The intent is to demonstrate to students that the
teaching profession is a viable and challenging career alternative.
Additionally, students will be exposed to the various benefits of the teaching
profession (e.g., working with youth, watching young people grow and develop,
living in an environment of learning).
--Locate and engage "master" teachers. State departments of education should
encourage school districts to identify master teachers in science and math. This
teacher should be Hispanic, to serve as an effective role model. The master
teacher can be offered a variety of incentives for working with Hispanic youth.
--Arrange significant student-teacher contact. Hispanic youth with abilities
in the areas of math and science can be given a variety of paraprofessional
teaching responsibilities while still in school. Students can be given release
time to work as aides for master teachers or to do peer teaching. They may
conduct science experiments for the class and give class presentations in
specified areas. Students can be of particular use to a teacher if
Spanish/English bilingualism is needed to clarify specific points or to present
--Provide incentives for students to participate in special programs. As with
teachers, Hispanic youth need to be given a variety of incentives to attract
them to the programs outlined above. Sadly, the opportunity to be a math or
science teacher may not be particularly attractive, at first glance, to a youth
from lower socioeconomic standing. The idea, however, is for students to
consider teaching as a career alternative.
Franz, Aldridge, and Clark (1983) propose several guidelines for attracting
youth in general into science teaching. Adaptations of their recommendations are
- Recognition and honors (letter jackets) through city and school newspapers,
assemblies, and parental gatherings should be awarded.
- Released time from regular classwork for preparation of math or science
lessons or for peer tutorials in science and math should be arranged.
- Visitation to universities to observe the teaching of science and
mathematics should be scheduled.
- Visitation to teacher education programs in area universities to
familiarize students with the teaching profession should be scheduled. action
--Part-time instructors can be recruited from other segments of society. In
communities with large Hispanic populations, retired Hispanic teachers or
retired Hispanic members of industry or government may be available to serve as
part-time math and science teachers. With the proper supervision and support,
these individuals can be excellent role models for Hispanic youth contemplating
careers in science, engineering, or teaching. They have been very useful to
community colleges attempting to meet growing enrollments in science and math
while facing a dearth of faculty in these areas.
--Skilled professionals can also be borrowed from industry. The possibility
of using skilled Hispanic mathematicians, engineers, and scientists working in
private industry or governmental agencies as teachers has seemed remote to
public districts. Community colleges have been quite successful in this area.
Many private businesses and industries are quite willing to lend their
professional employees to local school districts if arrangements are agreeable
to all. However, school districts must initiate the request for this type of
Although it is easy to see how many incentives are possible, school districts
must work to implement them if Hispanic teachers of other courses are to be
encouraged to qualify in the areas of math and sciences.
HOW CAN THESE PROGRAMS BE FINANCED?
Financing these programs becomes a major problem. Guthrie and Zusman (1982),
and Good and Hinkel (1983) offer a number of options that might be useful to
states, teacher preparation programs, and school districts. Hispanic youths in
teacher education programs can be assisted in a number of ways:
- Industry-financed, university-provided, or school district provided
scholarships designated explicitly for Hispanic youth in science or mathematics
- Low interest or non-payable loans and/or grants can be specifically
designated for Hispanics who will teach for three years or more in the public
- A tuition-free fifth (or sixth) year of university teacher education
available to non-math and non-science Hispanics interested in certifying as
science or math teachers.
- Summer or part-time jobs arranged in business or industry and specifically
designated for Hispanics in teacher education programs directed at math and
For Hispanic teachers currently employed or underemployed, an additional set
of options can be made available:
- Bonuses, differentiated pay, grants, tuition reimbursement, and
scholarships for Hispanic teachers willing to recertify in science or math
- Mid-career internships for Hispanic teachers to work in math or science
areas of industry.
- State or federally sponsored programs implemented specifically for Hispanic
teachers accomplish the following:
Upgrade the existing pool of teachers in science and math;
Retrain teachers in related subject-matter areas to become science and math
Assist teachers in completing master's degree requirements in math and
science areas that would, in the long term, make them eligible for salary
- Federal and/or state tax credits granted to Hispanic teachers willing to
stay in or enter math or science fields.
- School-initiated cooperative efforts with business and industry to employ
teachers part-time, summers, or (after three years of service to the schools)
full-time. Teachers, however, must agree to return to the school districts for a
specified number of years in order to be eligible for these part-time or summer
WHAT ARE THE PRIMARY ELEMENTS OF A PLAN TO ACQUIRE MORE HISPANIC SCIENCE AND
Two key steps must be taken to alleviate the shortages of Hispanic math and
science teachers. The first is to attract Hispanic youth into the areas of math
and science education. Existing low teacher salaries are not going to attract
talented Hispanic youth to teach science and mathematics. Therefore, it is
imperative that salaries of Hispanic math and science teachers be attractive and
competitive. Additionally, Hispanic youth will not be attracted to math and
science teaching if substantial funds are not available for scholarships, low
interest loans, and/or internships and part-time jobs.
The second step, albeit temporary, is to retrain Hispanic teachers in
over-supplied discipline areas (e.g., history and English) so they can teach
math and science. School districts and state education agencies must (1) be
supportive of Hispanic teachers who return to teacher education programs to be
recertified in math and science; (2) facilitate the use of part-time Hispanic
professionals from business and industry as teachers; (3) facilitate the
employment of Hispanic math and science teachers in business and industry on a
temporary basis; and (4) provide financial incentives in the form of bonuses or
other rewards for Hispanic teachers who are willing to stay in math and science
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Burns, M. "The Current Status of Hispanic Technical Professionals: How Can We
Improve Recruitment and Retention?" INTEGRATED EDUCATION 20 (1982): 49-55.
Franz, J. R., B. Aldridge, and R. B. Clark. "The Crisis in High School
Physics Teaching: Paths to a Solution." PHYSICS TODAY (1983): 44-49.
Good, T. L. and G. M. Hinkel. TEACHER SHORTAGE IN SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS:
MYTHS, REALITIES, AND RESEARCH. Washington, DC: National Institute of Education,
1983. ED 231 653.
Guthrie, J. W. and A. Zusman. "Teacher Supply and Demand in Math and
Science." PHI DELTA KAPPAN 64 (1982): 23-33.
IMPACT OF TEACHER SHORTAGES AND SURPLUS ON QUALITY ISSUES IN TEACHER
EDUCATION. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Colleges for Teacher
Education, 1983. ED 238 890.
Neill, G. "Quality of Math and Science Teaching: Federal Commission Studies
Problem." NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SECONDARY SCHOOL BULLETIN 66 (1982): 41-48.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE SYMPOSIUM ON THE EFFECTS ON TECHNOLOGY ON A VANISHING
SPECIES: MATH AND SCIENCE TEACHERS, 1982. ED 221 356.
Rush, G. S. "Corrective Measures in the Teacher Shortages: Consequences and
Conclusions." EDUCATION 104 (1983): 34-37.
Sigda, R. B. "The Crisis in Science Education and the Realities of Science
Teaching in the Classroom." PHI DELTA KAPPAN 64 (1983): 624-627.