How Davenport University is working to address the urban teacher shortage

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Programs at Davenport University are working to get more teachers into urban school districts.

Urban districts have been hit especially hard by the nation’s teacher shortage.

“We have an enormous shortage where our school districts are relying heavily on substitute teachers,” Davenport University College of Urban Education Associate Dean Rhonda White said. “The students are not getting all of what they need to actually be successful, so it has really impacted those underserved communities.”

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As part of the state-funded Talent Together teacher creation initiative, the Davenport programs are working to combat the problem by addressing things like pay inequity and low general interest in working in urban districts.

“We are basically going back into those schools where there’s a shortage, we are helping to equip the teachers who are already there to meet the needs of all their students, but we’re also growing our own,” White said.

That includes trying to reach students early to stoke interest in pursuing a career in education. There’s a special focus on science and math, the subjects where teachers are especially in need.

“We’re trying to tap their interest in the area of STEM so that not only do they begin to think about college, they (also) think of about going into education. They think about going into one of the STEM areas so they can go right back to their community and become educators in those communities,” White said.

Davenport University offers undergraduate and graduate programs in urban education, which coaching and classroom time from the start so students can gain experience.

“The biggest challenge in recruiting students especially in the area, in the STEM area, would be salaries,” White said.

Through the Urban Education Partner School Program, Davenport provides funding for select districts to help narrow the pay gap: up to $7,000 per year for a master’s in urban education or the urban education certificate and up to $12,000 for a bachelor’s of science in a science, technology, engineering or math field.

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Davenport collects data on its Urban Education programs and says it is seeing progress.

“We’re seeing a comparison in the areas of reading and math and language arts, that those students who have our candidates are improving,” White said.

For more information about the programs available, you can visit the Davenport University College of Urban Education website.

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