Following Up

17 September 2005

A couple of posts ago, I referenced an EdWeek article about how big business is concerned about math and science eduation in America. It now looks like one business intends to do something about that. IBM recently announced a program where it will financially back employees who want to leave the company and become teachers.

The financial aid comes in the form of "full benefits and up to half their salary, depending on length of service" while they participate in the (re)training program. "In addition, the employees could get up to $15,000 in tuition reimbursements and stipends while they seek teaching credentials and begin student-teaching." After that, the new teachers are on their own apart from some "guidance and teaching materials over the internet."

In becoming teachers, many employees will be taking a large pay cut. IBM figures that this program will therefore appeal most to those who are close to retirement, because "they would have more financial wherewithal to take the pay cut that becoming a teacher likely would entail." (Likely?)

I don't think I'm the only one who will be watching to see how this unfolds. I'm glad to see that at least one company is going to try to do something to get good minds into the classroom. Will it work? I don't know. I would guess that the people who would be attracted to this program are those who might have liked to have been teachers, but knew they could have more money and better working conditions elsewhere. They are also going to have that altruistic quality that most educators have: a desire to make a difference in the lives of others. But will they be any more successful in staying for several years vs. others who come to the classroom? I think it's unlikely. Big Blue is going to have to replace half of that teaching corps every 5 years...and add to it in order to keep up with other vacancies that will be created due to retirement.

I wonder if Bill Gates is watching. :)

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