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Saturday, November 26, 2022
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Teacher Pledge program extends to address educator shortage

The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education Teacher Pledge program has been extended into the 2025-26 academic school year to address the educator shortage in Wisconsin. 

The goal of this pledge is to continue fostering high-quality teachers and relieve stress of finances and difficulty of job. More than 350 students have used the Teacher Pledge program so far, and it’s expected to help over 1,000 students in the university’s teacher education program.

“There are significant challenges across the field of education, but we’re looking to the future with a sense of optimism,” UW-Madison School of Education Dean Diana Hess said in a press release. “Our Teacher Pledge program holds great potential for the state of Wisconsin. We have to explore solutions quickly.”

The Teacher Pledge program was initially launched in August 2020 to give stability to future teachers, which in turn, gave schoolchildren a high-quality education. The system works by having the university pay the equivalent of in-state tuition and fees, testing and licensing costs for students studying teacher education. Those students then “pledge” to teach for three or four years at the pre-kindergarten level through 12th grade in Wisconsin.

“This has greatly helped me as I do not have to stress over the additional expenses that come with a graduate program and being an out-of-state student,” said Camryn Booms, a student who earned her undergraduate degree at Ferris State University. She is now pursuing a master’s with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in a program that will lead to dual certification in secondary science education and English as a second language (ESL). “In my future career, I will graduate and start full-time teaching without having to worry about paying off any student loans.”

“I would highly recommend this program not only to other future educators at UW-Madison, but also to other universities that want to establish something like this,” said Trixie Cataggatan, a UW-Madison junior majoring in Elementary Education who is pursuing a certificate in Early Childhood and ESL.

The pledge is also designed to give teachers an incentive to continue their career path, as there are high rates of teachers leaving after one or two years, according to Hess. 

“This is a one-of-a-kind program — no other university in the nation is offering to pay tuition, fees and testing fees to any student in a teacher education program who pledges to stay in the state to teach,” she told The Daily Cardinal. 

Most districts are hiring teachers on emergency licensure to fill-in gaps in special education and STEM fields to ease staffing challenges across the state, according to the press release. The university’s Student Success Through Applied Research Lab is studying the pledge to provide suggestions to the School of Education about ways to build a stronger teacher workforce across the nation. 

“I envision that the program will be dynamic, but that it will grow, and hopefully provide a model for the state,” Hess said. “Ultimately, we hope that if the Teacher Pledge is successful it will be continued with public funds and will be made available to students in teacher education programs across the state.”

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