MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama has struggled to find more science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers. Some state lawmakers hope money from a lottery proposal would encourage more teachers to work in the state.
“We still have a shortage of math and science teachers, especially in the rural areas,” said School Superintendents of Alabama Association Executive Director Ryan Hollingsworth.
Most recent data provided shows about 1,700 teachers were teaching out of field during the 2017-2018 school year.
“We still have classrooms that are not taught by highly qualified or even certified math or science teachers,” Hollingsworth said.
Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, proposed a statewide lottery, which is part of gambling package. He wants the lottery proceeds to help pay for college scholarships for people to become teachers. The scholarships would be tailored toward people going into the STEM teaching fields.
Lawmakers are considering collaborating with Sen. Larry Stutts’, R-Tuscumbia, proposed bill to provide 200 college scholarships each year to those who will be STEM teachers in rural areas for five years.
“And we came up with five years thinking that if you stayed in an area for five years, you would be much more likely to put down roots there,” Stutts said.
Hollingsworth believes scholarships could be effective in attracting more teachers.
Marsh proposed a gambling package in February which deals with a lottery, casinos and sports betting. State lawmakers are expected to take up the issue when they return to Montgomery for the legislative session next week.