"How can Arizona businesses BEST give summer financial support to high school physics and chemistry teachers?"


Background: Governor Janet Napolitano broached a similar question at a P-20 Council meeting in fall 2005. Jane Jackson, Co-Director of the Modeling Instruction Program in the Department of Physics at ASU, volunteered to her “Teacher Quality and Support Committee" to gather Arizona physics and chemistry teachers' responses to this question. A dozen teachers submitted ideas to the P-20 Council, via her website.


Summary of physics and chemistry teachers' responses:

Š      Most teachers want businesses to provide financial support to take content-related professional development, particularly in Modeling Instruction.

Š      A few would like summer internships.

Š      One teacher, Mr. Robert (Robin) Blackford, has a detailed plan for how businesses can provide financial support for teachers. His plan is based upon his extensive business experience in his first career as a mining engineer, and discussions with science teacher colleagues at Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood. (included here)



To: Governor's Committee on Teacher Quality and Support

From: Robert Blackford, physics teacher, Mingus Union High School, Cottonwood, Arizona

Subject: Summer financial support from business and industry for high school physics, chemistry, and math teachers

January 16, 2006


There are three major financial burdens facing potential/existing teachers and districts in Arizona:

1) Pre-certification expenses and state requirements

2) Post certification state requirements

3) Mentoring/professional development state-wide


1)    Pre-certification expenses and state requirements:

a)     Core content comparable to BS degrees in Math, Chemistry and Physics as per State and NCLB

b)    Invest 4 to 5 years of full time course work at a major university, incurring the same expenses as Engineering and Business majors

c)     A semester of student teaching with no monetary compensation for services that compares to an internship in business/industry

d)    Proficiency Exam, certification and background/fingerprint expenses


1)    Post-certification expenses as per state requirements:

a)     180 hours of professional development over 6-year period

i)      60 hours of SEI certification training

ii)    University/Community College course work

iii)   Professional association fees and conferences (NCTM, NSTA, APT, etc.)

b)    Potential coursework to achieve “Highly Qualified Status” as per NCLB

c)     Optional MS degree in content area to advance along salary schedule

d)    Various District-specific mandated training outside of district in-services

e)     Crucial classroom instructional equipment and supplies that exceed district/department budgets necessary for quality instructional delivery


1)    Mentoring/professional development state-wide:

a)     Compensation to districts/teachers to conduct content and instructional delivery training for other educators

b)    Compensation to educators for advanced training in specific content areas

i)      Tuition expenses

ii)    Living expenses

iii)   Equipment/technology expenses


Proposed levels of support from business and industry:

1)    provide general scholarships and support for pre-certified math, physics, and chemistry students

a)     tuition/books/supplies

b)    part-time/summer employment

c)     all certification expenses

2)    adopt a post-certified educator and commit to long-term financial support

i)      Develop a long-term plan (6-10 year) to financially support their professional development in following areas.

(1)   Attainment of master’s degree through university programs specific to content area

(2)   Attainment of professional development hours through attending specialized university workshops, summer programs, and courses.

(3)   Industry/business summer internships in content related fields, i.e. chemistry teacher working in a pharmaceutical lab; physics teacher working in a research and development center; math teacher working with industrial engineering professionals

(4)   Hire content area teachers to re-train or update business/industrial personnel knowledge and skills, i.e. math teacher providing math instruction to business employees; teach employees basic computer skills, etc.

(5)   Provide compensation to the educator for full participation in this plan by paying partial salary, offering bonuses, etc.

(6)   Include the provision of classroom supplies and equipment as part of this plan as it relates directly to the classroom quality instructional delivery needs, i.e. upgraded technology with necessary peripherals; lab equipment; consumables

ii)    Development of content area workshops for other district and out-of-district educators to facilitate continuity of instruction, i.e. teach modeling methods to middle school science/math teachers, hold inter-school in-services and workshops

iii)   Mandatory professional content area conference attendance

3)    Business/industry partners with universities to design and implement programs specific to obtaining master’s degrees/professional development in content area readily accessible to educators both urban and rural

a)     Provide financial and content expertise

i)      Business/industry share expertise in human relations/classroom management

ii)    Financial support to universities for

(1)   Summer master’s programs

(2)   Summer workshop (Modeling Programs)

(3)   Rural extension course work or in-service from universities


This level of support will foster highly qualified educators who will in turn deliver quality classroom instruction.  This will result in more highly educated students graduating from Arizona high schools.  It is my belief that providing a standard of instruction with the necessary support to implement this will ensure continuity of excellent instruction throughout Arizona in chemistry, physics and math. Establishing partnerships with educators and industry/businesses will provide insights and first hand knowledge to both educators and students of the demands for highly educated and motivated professionals in this country.



Robert Blackford

BS Mining Engineering

Certified Earth Science, Physics, and Math Sec Ed




Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006

To: Robert Blackford <blk4rd@gmail.com>

From: Larry Dukerich <ldukerich@mac.com>

Subject: your comments to TQS

Cc: jane.jackson@asu.edu

Hi Robin,

I'd like to compliment you on a job well done on your recommendations to the governor's Committee for Teacher Quality and Support.  I submitted the following today in support of your recommendations in general and the MNS in particular.



To: Governor's Committee for Teacher Quality and Support.

From: Larry Dukerich, Physics and Chemistry Teacher, Dobson High School, Mesa, AZ


I am writing to lend support to the recommendations made by Robin

Blackford.  While his comments covered a wide variety of concerns,

I'd like to focus on just one, the solution for which already exists.

I'm referring to his point #3) Mentoring/professional development



Teachers face increased pressure to continue their education with

additional requirements to achieve "highly qualified" status in a

particular field and with greater content and procedural knowledge

expected of their students.  They need to have the opportunity to

continue their professional development without facing a huge tuition

burden.  For the past five years, the NSF-sponsored Modeling

Instruction Program at Arizona State University has been providing

the support that has allowed between 125 and 150 teachers of physical

science to take a variety of courses and workshops during the summer.

These courses have enabled teachers to both increase their content

knowledge and to learn a reformed pedagogy that has been demonstrated

to improve student performance on a variety of measures.  I am

talking about a proven program which has assisted hundreds of

teachers (see: http://modeling.asu.edu/MNS/MNS.html).  The program

has been so popular that teachers from all over the country have

chosen to brave Arizona summers to learn how to become more effective

teachers.  You can obtain a list of testimonials from satisfied

teachers by contacting Jane Jackson, the Project Director



The problem is that the funding from the NSF has been exhausted.

Without some sort of support, the Master of Natural Science (MNS)

program is likely to wither and die due to the fact that teachers

will be simply unable to afford the tuition and room and board (for

non-locals).  It would require no more than $250,000 per year to

allow this program with a proven track record to continue.  This is a

concrete suggestion that addresses the very real problem of providing

teachers opportunities for meaningful professional development.  It

doesn't require a blue-ribbon panel to study the problem, nor does it

mean starting from scratch to design teacher workshops.  The

instructors and staff who make the MNS program at ASU work deserve

your support to continue to provide this valuable service to Arizona

science teachers.