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In this issue, we begin with a description of the teacher preparation program at Boston University, one of the newly funded PhysTEC sites. This site mixes some of the traditional PhysTEC components, the teacher in residence and learning assistants, with the results of a number of funded projects supporting in-service teachers.
The second article discusses efforts to connect working teachers with university faculty and professionals in industry by forming Professional Learning Communities (PLC). PLCs are an exciting idea that allows the leveraging of money spent on professional development by fostering communication. We use PLCs extensively in our College Ready in Mathematics and Physics NSF Math-Science Partnership at the University of Arkansas and encourage participants in our professional development workshops to establish PLCs at their home schools.
The third article discusses an APS initiative to help physics departments increase their graduation rates. Increased graduation rates have become increasingly important as many states, seeking to save money, consider closing programs with low graduation rates as discussed by Ted Hodapp in his Back Page article in the APS news in December 2011. While not directly a teacher preparation issue, it has been our experience that the best way to increase the number of physics teachers is to increase the number of physics majors. While our department would not be threatened if the State of Arkansas closed programs with few graduates, it would directly affect the number of qualified physics majors in the state, our graduate recruiting, and the job prospects of our doctoral students.
John Stewart is a the University of Arkansas