U-M program helps career changers and urban school districts
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The U.S. economy has lost 2.8 million manufacturing jobs in the past four years, largely in the industrial Midwest. Many established workers who have had to change careers during the recent economic downturn have turned to a University of Michigan School of Education program starting anew in June.
The June-to-June program allows established workers with degrees in other fields to become teachers in just one year while aiding school districts that have a hard time attracting and retaining good teachers.
U-M education experts note that more than 20 percent of new teachers leave education within three years and the rate is even higher, often a third or more, in urban school districts.
The one-year program helps non-education majors get their teacher's certification, a master's and a new career teaching. Traditional programs can take two or more years to receive the same credentials. The intensive summer-to-summer Master of Arts with Certification program accelerates the process.
Graduates of the program get extensive hands-on experience working with area school districts as they earn their degree and are qualified to teach in any Michigan school district. Many are encouraged to apply for positions at urban districts where the needs tend to be the greatest. The program has four sections, each with 25 students. Two sections are for secondary certification and two for elementary certification.
Stuart Rankin, who spent 37 years as a Detroit Public Schools teacher and deputy superintendent, is now a U-M School of Education professor helping non-educators become teachers. He works directly with students interested in teaching in Detroit.
"About a third of the people who enroll are just out of college but most are in their late 20s or 30s looking to do something different,'' Rankin said. "We've had students in their 50s, two or three lawyers, people from accounting, someone who was selling clips for cars and wants to feel good doing something for our future. Almost all of our people are able to get jobs teaching pretty quickly."
The program began for elementary teachers 12 years ago, though it took longer than a year, and in recent years, a version for secondary teachers was added. Before the program began, Rankin worked with a large group of Peace Corps volunteers when the School of Education trained them on how to be teachers in urban classrooms. He noted that "69 out of our 70 who enrolled made it as urban teachers.''
"Hopefully, they go into urban schools where there is the greatest need for them—actually that's the only reason I'm here,'' Rankin said. "They can teach anybody.''
Rankin notes that students in urban areas and in high poverty areas confront many difficult adult issues as children, issues that can touch the classroom as well.
"Their adaptive ability is usually much stronger than it would be for middle class kids," he said. "Our graduates not only feel that all kids can learn but they believe that they can teach all children."
For more on the program, visit: http://www.soe.umich.edu/mac/
For more on Rankin, visit: http://sitemaker.umich.edu/soe/faculty&mode=single&recordID=50930
Contact: Joe Serwach