By WRAL Tech Wire STEM News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, the Obama administration announced plans to develop a national science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teaching corps – pending a $1 billion commitment from Congress.

Named the STEM Master Teacher Corps, the program would start with 50 selected teachers and expand to 10,000 in four years, according to a statement from the White House. In exchange for modeling STEM education and mentoring their peers, those teachers would receive a $20,000 annual stipend.

“This funding effort is sorely needed,” said Dr. Sam Houston, president and CEO of the N.C. Science, Mathematics & Technology (SMT) Education Center, which houses the NC STEM Learning Network. “In North Carolina, we have several excellent programs such as the Kenan Fellows Program and others to address the shortage of STEM teachers in our state, but more national attention is needed to address this shortage.”

About two years ago, the president set an ambitious goal of preparing 100,000 additional STEM teachers over the next decade. Wednesday’s announcement aligns with the president’s belief that excellent STEM teaching requires deep content knowledge and strong teaching skills as well as philanthropic and private-sector support.

“If America is going to compete for the jobs and industries of tomorrow, we need to make sure our children are getting the best education possible,” President Obama said in a statement.

The president also intends to give $100 million of the existing Teacher Incentive Fund to school districts to develop plans to “identify, develop and leverage highly effective STEM teachers.”

The application deadline for this money is July 27, and 30 school districts already have expressed interest.

STEM Master Teacher Corps would be located at 50 sites around the country.

Democrats tried to secure funding for a similar program last year, but the proposal didn’t reach either the House or Senate floors.