Future of UAS School of Education Uncertain

holly-fisher-1BY HOLLY FISHER
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong

Although the UAS School of Education has grown into an efficient, prolific, and diverse school, the Board of Regents may be putting its administration on the chopping block in 2017 and giving the reins to UAF.

The University of Alaska’s Schools of Education are very prolific schools that see many undergraduates return to augment their degrees. There are multiple programs offered for student convenience, preparing them to enter the work force ready to take up teaching positions across the country. There are classes for undergraduates, an Initial Teaching Certificate for graduates, advanced programs moving into Masters degrees, and multiple other endorsements and certificates that can be earned. Through these diverse offerings, anyone wishing to become a teacher, but wanting to specialize rather than be a general education major, has many routes to achieving their goals. It is a popular post-grad choice for a good reason, and many students like staying at the school they have already been established at for four-plus years.

The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) has an especially strong school, with many students choosing to remain for further education upon graduation. Multiple of my close friends from here at UAS have completed one or more degrees, and are now working everywhere from Northern Alaska to Indiana. The faculty and administrative staff here have long experience, and run a great school that benefits many Southeastern students.

Unfortunately, due to the on-going budget crisis and education cuts, UAS may be losing direct administration of this successful school. The proposition currently under discussion by the Board of Regents suggests moving the School of Education to be centrally based at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), with satellite faculty at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) and UAS. Though this would not remove it from Southeast students, the those who have been so successful at running it here will no longer be in charge. Despite their years of experience, they will be relegated to support faculty and subject to the decisions made by a different campus.

In preparation for arguing before the Board of Regents against this move, UAS staff gathered a large number of statistics about the Schools of Education on all three campuses. The resulting numbers are both clear and startling.

UAS is 2-3 times more efficient at producing School of Education graduates than either UAA or UAF, bringing more students per faculty member successfully through the courses each year. Over the last five years, UAS has produced five 5 times more Alaska Native graduates, with more of them going on to become full-time teachers than either of the other two Schools. Despite these impressive numbers, UAS costs less per student than UAF’s program, while still producing fantastic results.

Consolidating the programs is a good plan, but with numbers like these it would make more sense to centralize the School of Education here at UAS. Clearly those in charge know what they are doing, and how to maximize the potential of all of these programs. They have been running the school for years and have produced the hands-down best results of all of the campuses, saying a great deal about both their experience and skill. The fact that UAS is the best at not only attracting, but also keeping students in the program should speak for itself. Here they know how to usher students through from start to finish, helping them achieve their education goals, and providing the most revenue and positive feedback for the UA system.

Though well intentioned, it seems highly illogical to try to save funds by giving the School to the campus that costs the most per-student to run, while taking its administration away from the most effective campus. While it was brought up for discussion by the Board of Regents in mid-November, the proposition was tabled until their first meeting in 2017.

With the time remaining, I hope sufficient argument can be made against the move, and they can be convinced to either allow UAS to retain its individual School, or to make it the central campus. If you have opinions on this matter, I strongly encourage you to make them known. After the successful arguments against cutting the UAA and UAF sports teams, it is clear that the president and Board do listen to their students and staff.

Please take advantage of the opportunity to support UAS and the best interests of University of Alaska students.

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