A billionaire ex-mathematician believes he has a simple formula for improving math education and making America more competitive

Here’s an article from Seed Magazine, a US magazine on math and science, about a program encouraging people who have math degrees to (re)train as teachers in an effort to improve kids learning of mathematics, by increasing these new teachers salaries for the first five years in their new career.

The first few paras of the article are as follows:

James Simons has a considerable amount of money. He’s the head of the top-performing hedge fund in the world, Renaissance Technologies Corporation, which he started after leaving a successful academic career in mathematics. More compelling than Simon’s acquisition of wealth is what he chooses to do with it. Rather than collecting art or jets like many of his Wall Street peers, the former mathematician is donating substantial quantities of cash and time to basic science and math education.

Since President Bush introduced the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) in his January 2006 State of the Union Address, Simons has given more than any other private citizen to the effort to keep American students competitive.

On Monday morning, flanked by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Simons pledged to double his initial $25 million commitment to Math for America (MfA), an education program he founded in 2004. With this cash infusion, the program will provide training and support to some 400 new math teachers in New York City in the next five years. If there is a simple formula for improving math and science pedagogy in America, Simons thinks he’s found it with Math for America.

Together, Simons and his colleagues devised a plan to pay for each of the program’s participants (known as “fellows”) to receive a master’s degree in education and also provide them with stipends of $90,000 each, on top of their salaries, spread over their first five years in the program.

In its first two years, MfA has already had an impact. Several of the teachers it has placed are career changers, reversing the tide of defections from teaching. MIT grad Alan Cheng, was previously a researcher and software engineer, and another fellow I met turned down graduate studies at Harvard to teach math in a New York City school….

(see the link above for the full article)

One Response to A billionaire ex-mathematician believes he has a simple formula for improving math education and making America more competitive

  1. […] Sacha Blumen draws my attention to a profile of James Simons, a US mathematician (and hedge fund squillionaire) who has put together Math for America, with the goal of getting more mathematically talented teachers into American schools. The number of students pursuing math and science degrees in America is in decline. Those that do study these subjects often enter fields that pay better than education. Simons’ idea for persuading more graduates to become educators is a no-brainer: Pay them more. […]

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