GW tries to slow the national trendof teacher shortage

GW’s school of education is taking steps to help prevent a national teacher shortage, which is predicted to escalate during the next decade, administrators said.

The American Council of Education advised college and university presidents to improve teaching and computer training, internships and participation from professors outside education facilities to help prevent an anticipated shortage of 2.5 million teachers by 2010, according to The Washington Post.

GW is prepared to respond to and is responding to the expected teacher shortage, said Donald Lehman, vice president for Academic Affairs.

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development has fallen short in providing adequate computer training to future teachers, GSEHD Dean Mary Hatwood Futrell said.

We’re not doing as an effective job in that area as we would like, Futrell said.

She said she hopes to implement a joint program with GW’s Educational Technology Leadership Program to integrate computer technology into teacher training courses by the 2000 fall semester.

The Teacher Preparation program, a department within the GSEHD, will use a $200,000 grant from the Department of Education to offer teachers release time, said Jay Shotel, chairman of the department. The release time will be used to revamp course curriculum with a larger focus on technology, Shotel said.

The GSEHD already addressed the need for better student internships, Shotel said. While other universities typically offer 10-week internships, GW graduate students select from six yearlong internships that allow students to work as substitute teachers in two of the nation’s top school districts, Shotel said. About 80 percent of students in the Teacher Preparation program participate in an internship, he said.

The Teacher Preparation program also already stepped up efforts to involve professors from outside facilities, Shotel said.

The department works closely with high schools in the Montgomery and Fairfax county school districts to create a working dialogue between professors and to use superior technology labs, he said.

Shotel said the possibility of a future link between the GSEHD and the undergraduate school of arts and sciences will be a key factor in GW’s effort to curb another national trend – professors teaching outside their majors.

According to an Education Department study, more than half of the nation’s math and science teachers do not have a college major or minor in the subjects they teach, according to The Washington Post. The panel that created the report calls this national trend a reprehensible form of publicly sanctioned malpractice, according to The Washington Post.

The lack of qualified teachers occurs because undergraduate colleges in arts and science often have little connection to graduate schools of education, Shotel said.

For GW to help slow the trend of teachers entering the field without a proper liberal arts background, Shotel said the GSEHD must form a link with the Colombian School of Arts and Sciences.

There is very poor linkage between (the GSEHD and CSAS), and there should be a very strong linkage, Futrell said. I’m not aware of very many collaborative efforts.

She said she looks to GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg to encourage better communication between the two schools, but, ultimately, the responsibility lies with faculty members within the departments.

GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said he would like to see the deans of the two schools meet to form a stronger connection, but he has limited power handling internal changes within the University.

Shotel, who called efforts to create dialogue with the CSAS frustrating, said the issue of departmental separation revolves around a question of different priorities.

While teacher training is not a main priority within CSAS, Dean Lester Lefton said he would like to discuss the possibilities of forming a joint program with the GSEHD.

Lefton cited low salaries of teachers as the main reason many math and science majors choose career fields outside of education, but he said he would encourage professors in the school of education to inform CSAS professors of national standards students must meet to teach professionally.

Dialogue between faculty members is the most important factor in forming much needed bridges between the two schools, Shotel said.

All we need is one or two interested faculty who are going to list (teacher preparation) as one of their main priorities, Shotel said.

National shortages of unqualified teachers are only going to get worse, Shotel said, and he added that he will continue to explore new ways to entice undergraduate students to entertain the possibility of teaching.

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