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Senator Al Franken (D. MN) is pushing to build support from Minnesota teachers for his STEM Master Teacher Corps Act:

Sen. Al Franken says his favorite teacher in high school was Harold Hodgkinson.

He was “old school,” Franken told an audience of science teachers Friday afternoon at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Hodgkinson encouraged his students to take a methodical approach to solving problems.

“He told us to use a pencil and paper and figure it out,” Franken said.

Franken was speaking about Hodgkinson at a Minnesota Science Teachers Association conference and urging support for a bill that he hopes will help retain teachers in K-12 education and boost the number of students studying math and science for a career.

The bill Franken is pushing would work to fulfill President Obama’s goal to recruit and train 100,000 more teachers in science, technology, engineering and math fields in the next decade.

It works to retain teachers with higher salaries because they are often lured away from education. “Master teachers” would be created and used to mentor others. The bill would also focus on high-need schools and finding ways for institutions to pool for grants and other funding.

“We need to keep you in teaching,” Franken said, because the jobs of the future depend on people with science skills.

He said there are obvious signs that kids can and will pursue math and science. He said the robotics teams that are bubbling up from Minnesota high schools are a keen example. Today there are more varsity robotics teams than hockey teams in the state.

The crowd applauded that fact. - Duluth News Tribune, 2/22/13

Franken introduced his bill back in 2011.  Here's Franken speaking about the STEM Master Teacher Corps Act on the Senate floor:

Franken recently reintroduced the act to the Senate:

"As I travel across Minnesota, one thing I consistently hear from our high-tech businesses is that our students need to be ready to fill the jobs that will be waiting for them when they graduate," said Sen. Franken. "It's critical to invest in STEM education, but we also need to make sure we're getting the best return on that investment. Creating a STEM Master Teacher Corps will help ensure that our students are equipped with the skills they need by giving new STEM teachers role models to look up to and get advice from. At the same time, it will give more experienced and effective teachers support, advancement opportunities and recognition of their hard work."

In his State of the Union address, President Obama stressed the importance of STEM education to help give students "the skills today's employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future." Sen. Franken's bill, the STEM Master Teacher Corps Act, will help achieve that goal by establishing a STEM Master Teacher Corps for top STEM K-12 teachers. These master teachers would mentor beginning or less effective teachers, in addition to networking with one another and sharing best practices and classroom resources. Master teachers would also be compensated for their teaching skills and new leadership roles. -, 2/14/13

Franken's re-introduced bill is cosponsored by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).  The bill has been endorsed by more than 55 national and regional groups including  the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers to LifeScience Alley and the Science Museum of Minnesota.  According to the data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), 16 of the 20 fastest growing occupations will be tied to STEM disciplines.  In Minnesota alone, economic forecasts project that scientific and technical occupations will increase by at least twice the average growth rate over the next ten years.

Since 2011, Franken has been promoting the bill to different schools in Minnesota while also promoting his School Principal Recruitment and Training Act:

"My daughter became a teacher right out of college," through New York City's Teaching Fellows Program, Franken said. "She had a really good principal. It made an enormous difference."

That's why he introduced the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act, a measure that would fund a federal program that offers school districts competitive grants for principal training.

The legislation came from "research on principals and research on what made a good school, and how ... the ethos of the school was created by the principal," Franken told The Huffington Post in an interview in his office.

In addition to the principal training initiative, Franken has also introduced a measure that would bolster science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching. He hopes to roll it into the bigger markup bill.

He said he crafted the STEM initiative in part because he and his brother studied math and science, and because of his appreciation for logic, whether as a politician or as a comedian on Saturday Night Live.

"While we didn't go into math and science careers, I felt that there's actually a lot in my career that has to do with logic, like writing a joke," Franken said. He had also noticed that in Minnesota, STEM teaching jobs went unfilled.

Franken also introduced a measure that would prohibit discrimination in public schools on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. - Huffington Post, 7/28/11

If you would like to get more information on Senator Franken's STEM Master Teacher Corps Act or his School Principal Recruitment and Training Act, feel free to contact his office here:


Or you can call his office in D.C.: (202) 224-5641

And if you're a Minnesota resident, you can also contact any of his local offices:

Duluth Office: (218) 722-2390

NW Mobile Office: (218) 230-9487

Saint Cloud Office: (320) 251-2721

Saint Paul Office: (651) 221-1016

Saint Peter Office: (507) 931-5813

And if you want to donate to Al's re-election campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 10:06 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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