Accelerator program aims to reduce teacher shortage

(The Center Square) – Amid a teacher shortage in Illinois, in a state where local property taxes provide the bulk of school funding, rural and under-resourced schools continue to struggle to recruit teachers. 

A training program wants to help remedy the problem.

The Golden Apple Accelerator Program will train teachers in 15 months for central, western and southern Illinois communities in hopes candidates will fill teaching vacancies and settle down. The teacher residency program expands the teacher pipeline by targeting seniors in college who are not currently education majors as well as career changers with bachelor’s degrees who would like to become teachers.

President Alan Mather said there were 1,800 vacancies this year, and the pandemic may only worsen the state’s teacher shortage.

“With COVID, we are uncertain what’s going to happen with the teaching profession, and certainly some of the surveys that have been done have shown that the teacher shortage is going to be exacerbated,” said Mather.

The inaugural class featured 30 applicants who will get their teaching license next year. They focused on high-need areas such as special education, the STEM fields, physical education and bilingual education.

Eastern Illinois University is one of only two higher education partners for the program. Golden Apple also is partnering with Blackburn College, and Regional Offices of Education 3, 13, 39, 40 and 47.

The Illinois legislature approved $750,000 for the initial year, but Mather is hoping with more funding for next year, the program can take in more applicants.

“If we were able to procure the $5 million that we’ve requested for the following year, we would be able to take up to 200 a year into the program,” Mather said.


September 30, 2020 at 08:28PM

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