Utah must find a way to pay math and science teachers higher salaries or public education will be left only with "scientific rejects," members of the State Advisory Council on Science & Technology said Tuesday.
Council member David Grant, a University of Utah chemist, said many math and science teachers are now at the top of their salary ranges - but still earn much less than they could in industry with their degrees."If that continues, eventually all we will get are scientific rejects, and that's not who we want teaching."
"We want to attract our best people," he said.
"Why do we need to pay all the teachers the same salary? There's no consideration for the market force value of their different training."
Council member Jack McCord, with Hercules, said if higher pay for math and science teachers were offered, "eventually others would retrain themselves to get into the better-paying field."
But the council said it sees many obstacles to higher pay for math and science teachers. First, it would "be unpopular with the other 95 percent of teachers" and their unions. And, second, tight education budgets might not allow raises anyway.
State Science Advisor Randy Moon said subcommittees of the council are trying to come up with inexpensive ways to make teaching math and science more attractive.
Grant said that may include such things as offering them a year-round contract, which includes a few months off for summer refresher courses.
Rep. David S. Ostler, R-Salt Lake, suggested that the council may want to refer the problem to the State Board of Education for review.