Education students seek changes in teacher prep program

EAST LANSING — Members of MEA’s aspiring educators program, Aspiring Educators of Michigan (AEM), have begun an effort to enact changes in the Teacher Preparation Program in the College of Education at Michigan State University.

AEM members who are education students at MSU have created the group “Empowering Spartan Educators,” and are working to create a teacher preparation program that is equitable, accessible and sustainable. They have begun a petition drive that has quickly generated over 600 signatures.

AEM members will present their proposals to the Associated Students of MSU (ASMSU) General Assembly on Thursday, March 4th at 7 pm. Media and interested citizens can attend the meeting via zoom: https://msu.zoom.us./j/99930390743. Password: asmsu

AEM has identified several areas that need to be addressed in order to improve the Teacher Preparation Program:

*The 5th year internship creates a financial hardship on low-income students, including many students of color, as it is unpaid. The cost to complete the program to certification exceeds the annual salary of many first-year teachers.

*The current program requires students to take additional classes that do not count toward their master’s degree, while their graduate student status precludes them from financial aid and grants.

*The difficulty and time commitment of the 5th year internship makes working a paying job nearly impossible, and the program discourages students from seeking outside employment, while offering no compensation or tuition relief.

“At a time when our state is facing a severe teacher shortage crisis, made only worse by the global pandemic, changes must be made to remove obstacles that prevent many students from considering a career in the classroom,” said AEM President Brittany Perreault.

“We encourage those interested in making positive changes to the Teacher Prep Program to join us virtually at the ASMSU General Assembly tomorrow night. We will be asking the assembly to support legislation which would address the concerns we’ve outlined. We will continue to fight to ease the financial burden and stress level for education students, and especially focusing on breaking down the barriers for low-income and minority students to becoming teachers,” said Perreault.

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