Gov. Bob McDonnell has often said that Virginia must prepare its future workforce with top-notch training in STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering and math.
During his 2009 campaign, McDonnell's education plan included this promise:
"Over the course of the McDonnell Administration, we will increase the amount of funding available for the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Program and set aside a portion of the funds specifically for STEM and career and technical education shortage areas."
The scholarship program, established in 1984, gives "forgivable loans" to college juniors and seniors intending to become middle and high school teachers in subjects that have a shortage of instructors, such as math, science, foreign languages and special education. Applications are filed by the state's colleges and universities on students' behalf.
Priority was originally given to minority students and, later, to young men. The loans, initially totaling $2,000 per year, were forgiven for each year that the new teachers taught subjects in schools with shortages.
Since fiscal 2008, under former Gov. Tim Kaine and McDonnell, the state has allocated $708,000 annually for the scholarship and recipients have received $3,720 a year. The allocation will remain the same for the budget year starting this July 1, but the individual scholarship amounts will be increased to $10,000 a year and additional priority will go to students who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school classes.
At McDonnell's request in 2012, the General Assembly also approved a new program to attract and retain STEM teachers. The state put up $500,000 to give $5,000 incentive awards to new teachers with licensing in secondary math and science subjects who sign agreements to teach STEM subjects. The teachers must have a satisfactory performance evaluation after the year of teaching and may receive an additional $1,000 award for each of the following three years.
Earlier this year, McDonnell successfully urged lawmakers to boost funding for the program to $808,000 for the coming school year.
Finally, in 2012, the General Assembly also approved $300,000 for this school year and $400,000 for the next to fund a pilot program to encourage math and science majors to take teaching courses. Under the program, first tried in Texas, eligible students are allowed to take two teaching courses for free.
Old Dominion University will be the first state school to implement the program this fall, with 20 students scheduled to graduate in 2017.
So McDonnell's campaign pledge -- to increase funding of the state's teaching scholarship with an eye towards encouraging STEM instructors -- has evolved. He has not put more money into the program, although the individual award to each recipient has increased. In addition, McDonnell and the General Assembly have added a bonus program to recruit trained teachers for STEM classes and a pilot program to attract math and science college students to teaching.
The governor has worked towards his overall objective, though not in the method he originally proposed. We rate this a Compromise.