In February, both CNN and Madison’s local CBS affiliate, WISC-TV/Ch. 3, put a spotlight on the UW–Madison School of Education Wisconsin Teacher Pledge in reports that drew attention to a teacher shortage problem in some parts of Wisconsin and the nation.
The Teacher Pledge, part of the School of Education’s Impact 2030 initiative, provides financial support — including up to in-state tuition, fees, and testing certification costs — for students enrolled in one of the School’s teacher education programs. In return, after graduating the students “pledge” to teach for three or four years at a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade school in Wisconsin.
Completely funded by donors to the School of Education, the $20 million Teacher Pledge initiative was originally scheduled to run for five years. The School announced in March 2022 that the pilot is being extended for another year, making it available to students through the 2025-26 academic year.
The CNN report drew attention to a growing shortage of teachers in the U.S., as many veteran teachers are retiring and fewer college graduates enter the field. The report points to shrinking enrollment in teacher preparation programs nationwide, but highlights UW–Madison among institutions working to draw in more students by providing financial support so that students can graduate debt-free.
In a follow up to the CNN report, Madison’s Channel 3000/News 3 shed more light on the Teacher Pledge program in a segment headlined, “Call for Action: UW–Madison offers loan forgiveness for teaching students.”
Channel 3000/News 3 interviewed Michigan native Camryn Booms, a graduate student in the School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, who came to Wisconsin to pursue her master’s degree in education. Booms said the Teacher Pledge was key to her decision to enroll at UW–Madison.
“It’s just that extra help that really made the difference for me, and I know (for) a lot of my classmates,” she said.
UW–Madison’s Kimber Wilkerson, a professor of special education and the faculty director of the Teacher Education Center, explained in the segment that the Teacher Pledge program works to solve two problems at once. First, it helps more students pay for school by providing money up front and keeping the application process simple.
“Because it’s relatively small compared to a federal loan forgiveness program we can be more nimble,” said Wilkerson, “so we can make corrections if we see something that is a sticking point.”
In addition, the requirement that Teacher Pledge students teach in Wisconsin helps local schools experiencing persistent staff shortages. “We are kind of thrilled that (it) means those teachers are also saying up front that they’re planning to teach in the state of Wisconsin,” said Wilkerson.
The segment noted that two years after the Teacher Pledge program launched, UW–Madison’s teacher education programs are growing, and 80 percent of master’s students have signed on to teach in Wisconsin.
For Booms, the Pledge has helped her feel a sense of commitment to her new home in Wisconsin. “From my hometown, to my undergraduate institution’s town, to here in Madison, I’ve always felt a sense of needing to do something and give back,” she said. “I go home now, and I miss Madison even more.”
Mapping Rural Colleges’ project highlighted
A study led by Nicholas Hillman, “Mapping Rural Colleges and Their Communities,” received media coverage in February from Inside Higher Ed, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and The Daily Yonder, which provides news, commentary, and analysis about and for rural America.
Speaking of his team’s study, Hillman explained to Diverse Issues: “When thinking about the location of higher education institutions, it’s important to consider that most students stay close to home to go to college. If we start from that vantage point, the next question is, ‘What college is nearby?’ That’s the whole motivation of this project.”
Hillman is a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, and is the director of the Student Success through Applied Research (SSTAR) lab.
“I sometimes hear how rural areas are dying, but that’s not really true across the board,” Hillman adds. “There
is a lot of variation within what we call ‘rural.’ Some communities are thriving. It’s not just doom-and-gloom.”
The report helps researchers and policymakers pinpoint these differences to help improve educational opportunities and outcomes in rural areas.
Alum Kinard examines ‘Midwest Nice’ in Washington Post
School of Education alumnus Aaron Kinard authored a commentary published by the Washington Post in February that’s headlined: “ ‘Midwest nice’ hides a history of racial terror and segregation.”
Kinard, who earned his bachelor’s degree from UW–Madison in education studies and history in 2021, is currently a PhD student in sociology at the University of Virginia.
Kinard’s piece builds upon research he did as a McNair Scholar while at UW–Madison.
It explains how — despite the trope of “Midwestern nice” — decades of policies and practices have excluded and disadvantaged Black Americans in the region, and how those practices still reverberate today.”
For the latest media mentions
Faculty, staff, and alumni from across UW–Madison’s School of Education are routinely quoted or make their voices heard in newspapers, magazines, and online news media outlets. Similarly, these experts are often interviewed and showcased on a range of local, national, and international radio and television news reports. For the latest examples, visit: education.wisc.edu/news-events