A letter from Chancellor Ford on Teacher Education
Dear Campus Community,
I am writing today to address a very difficult topic and a decision we must make about one of UW-Parkside's core educational offerings.
After extensive analysis and consultation, I have come to believe that the Teacher Education program at UW-Parkside must be redesigned and restructured to ensure that future graduates enjoy a first-class educational experience. Recognizing that the quality of teacher preparation has a direct impact on the quality of K-12 education offered to Wisconsin children, I am convinced that UW-Parkside must take bold action to create the kind of teacher preparation program that meets the 21st century needs of students and communities we serve.
Provost Terry Brown and I have studied this issue closely, engaging in difficult conversations with faculty governance leaders, faculty and staff colleagues in Teacher Education, UW System administration, and Department of Public Instruction colleagues. Based on that consultation, and our shared concern for Wisconsin schoolchildren, I am forwarding a resolution to the Faculty Senate today to suspend new admissions to the UW-Parkside Teacher Certification program and to dissolve the UW-Parkside Teacher Education department as it is now structured. At my request the Chair of the Faculty Senate, Lisa Kornetsky, has agreed to call a special Faculty Senate Meeting scheduled for Friday, May 14, 1:00 p.m. and Dr. Gary Wood, Secretary of the Faculty, will post the agenda for the May 14 Faculty Senate meeting later today.
In advance of that meeting, I want to address a few important questions.
First, we must recognize that today's problems with teacher education at UW-Parkside are the byproduct of longstanding challenges which pre-date the faculty and staff members who now work in the department. As you know, this past year our colleagues in Teacher Education have worked diligently to address the corrective actions noted by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) in May 2009. We have completed the corrective actions and I want to thank those faculty and staff colleagues for their work to implement all the remedial measures mandated by DPI. Looking beyond the near-term requirements that we have successfully met, I believe that we must hold ourselves to a higher standard and build a foundation for future improvement.
Second, I invite all members of the UW-Parkside community to share ownership of this challenge and opportunity. Faculty senators representing all academic departments will be part of this important deliberation next week. After that meeting, I hope that we can come together as a united campus community to focus on one vital goal: Creating a first-rate teacher preparation program and PK-12 professional development that prepares UW-Parkside graduates to meet the needs of communities and schoolchildren statewide. Teacher candidates enroll in courses all across our academic departments, and they are supported by a wide range of student services. This means that we all contribute to their success.
Pending Faculty Senate approval, I hope to move ahead in three phases.
The first step is to suspend admission to the current licensure program, ensuring that current licensure students have the resources and personal attention they need to complete their certification requirements over the next 24 months. The Teacher Education staff will be prepared to answer questions and develop course sequence plans for students enrolled in the current licensure program. We will also work in partnership with area UW institutions to assist students who have not yet been admitted to the licensure program.
In addition to ensuring the quality of the educational experience for current UW-Parkside Teacher Licensure students, Provost Brown will establish a new leadership position, reporting directly to her, to oversee this transition, ensure continued service for current students, and lead in the development of a new program.
The second phase is the creation of entirely new degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, developed in partnership with UW-Parkside faculty and staff, area school districts and community leaders.
The third step will be to implement the new program and reopen admissions. We hope that this could be accomplished by Fall 2013.
I realize that you will have many other questions about this decision, and how it might affect faculty, staff, and students. Many of those questions will be addressed at next week's Faculty Senate meeting.
The decision to eliminate a program is one we neither make lightly nor alone. This extraordinary action, I believe, is necessary in this case and I ask for your support as we look ahead to creating a teacher preparation program that is the first choice of students and PK-12 partners in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Please feel free to contact me, Provost Brown, or members of the University Committee if you have questions. I look forward to our discussion next week at the Faculty Meeting and appreciate our work together as we look to the future in serving students and families in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Deborah L. FordChancellor