INDIANAPOLIS – With the start of the new school year weeks away, education officials in Indiana are working to address the state’s teacher shortage.
The Indiana Department of Education is working with some colleges and universities to fill more teaching positions.
Indiana is struggling to get teachers into classrooms, according to data released earlier this year. Part of the problem is the lack of college graduates entering the field.
“About 1 in 6 students who begin an education program in Indiana actually end up in an Indiana classroom,” said Holly Lawson, deputy director of communications for the Department of Education. Indiana. “Only 1 in 6.”
The state especially needs more teachers of color, Lawson said. About 6% of new teachers in Indiana come from diverse backgrounds, she explained.
“It’s very clear that we have work to do,” Lawson said.
State officials are looking for new ways to improve the teaching base in Indiana. One of them is a new program run by Ivy Tech Community College and Marian University that involves students completing their associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees within three to four years of high school to pursue a career in education.
“We were able to freeze tuition fees this year,” said Ivy Tech Provost Kara Monroe. “And we are including books in the tuition fees for all students this year. So now is the perfect time if you want to be a teacher to come back to school.
Students in the program can begin high school classes and earn all three degrees for a total cost of up to $ 45,000.
Officials hope to enroll 100 students this fall to kick off the program and eventually have 500 per year.
“We want these teachers to be many more, especially in the areas most needed – special education, science, etc.,” said Daniel Elsener, president of Marian University. “And we want them to come from diverse backgrounds.”
IDOE is optimistic that these efforts, combined with an increase in teacher compensation, will make a difference.
“I think we are taking positive steps. We are working to strengthen the value of education in our communities, ”Lawson said.
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