IBM has a program where they are encouraging employees to go into teaching in the public school system. This could become a model for other technical businesses to follow in the near future, as federal statistics predict that within two years the U.S. will need over 200,000 new science and math teachers. This coming fall will be the first time that science will be included in the test scores that determine the 'success' of a school under No Child Left Behind mandates, and more studetns than ever will be taking science; the net effect will be that an existing shortage of qualified science and math teachers will become worse.
One obvious downside to a program such as what IBM is piloting is salary. Although IBM would not give specific salaries of any employee in the program, it has been noted that participants take over a 50% pay cut (the average salary for teachers is in the mid $40,000s range, and it is not uncommon for technical specialists in companies such as IBM to make six figures...hmmm, I wonder why there is a shortage of science and amth teachers in the first place). IBM and other high tech firms will almost certainly become more involved in schools, and it will be interesting to see what new and creative ways they will do so. With a lack of American students graduating with science, math and engineering degrees, it is in the best interests, both short term and long term, for American companies to begin and commit to long-term participation in the education system. It is good to see that IBM understands that no progress will be made unless there are more enthusiastic teachers to motivate and train some of our best and brightest in the on a large scale.