University won’t renew contract with Teach for America

Amid low enrollment numbers, the University announced Monday that it won’t offer the alternative teacher education program for a 2017 cohort.

by Eliana Schreiber

The University of Minnesota won’t renew its contract with Teach for America, a nationwide alternative teacher education program, the school announced Monday.

The University’s College of Education and Human Development won’t admit any more members to the program, which aims to improve teaching resources in lower-income communities, due to lower than expected enrollment numbers. Current cohorts will be allowed the complete the program.

In a Monday press release, CEHD Dean Jean Quam said the program has an “unsustainable funding model and dwindling numbers of corps members.”

“The best use of our limited resources is to focus on innovative curriculum development and ways to prepare teachers in partnership with our K-12 colleagues,” she said in the press release.

In its press release, the University said other partnerships with the school — like the Minneapolis Residency Program with Minneapolis Public Schools and Dual Language and Immersion licensure program, among others — are more effective alternatives to train and retain diverse and high-quality teachers.

CEHD Associate Dean for Graduate and Professional Programs Deborah Dillon said the college values the program but ultimately did not renew the contract because it wasn’t attracting enough students each year.

When the program began in 2014, 31 students graduated with recommendations for a standard teaching license in May 2016, Dillon said. The 2015 cohort has 23 members and the 2016 group has 18 members.

The University expected at least 40 members each year, she said.

“Our decision … really isn’t based on the quality of the program,” Dillon said.

In an emailed statement, Teach for America spokeswoman Kathryn Phillips said the organization didn’t renew its contract with the University after the school said tuition and fees for the program would grow to more than $23,000 for 2017 — a 40 percent increase.

“We are pleased with the outcomes of our … partnership to date, but need to move forward with a new licensure pathway that enables us to provide an alternative, affordable route to teaching and leadership,” she said in the statement.

Dillon said other teacher-licensure programs at the University won’t be impacted.

Despite ending the contract the University and CEHD want to continue preparing teachers in innovative ways, Dillon said.

“The University is committed to providing multiple pathway programs to teaching which includes working side-by-side with K-12 educators to ensure that teachers are prepared,” the University said in its press release.

According to its website, Teach for America’s goal is to send recent college graduates from a variety of backgrounds to teach in low-income communities for at least two years.