Grants May Help Spur Indiana Teacher Recruitment, Retention
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – State officials hope thirteen grants totaling $9.6 million will help to end the trend of fewer teachers entering Indiana’s classrooms.
The grants were announced Wednesday by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. It is the second round of grants awarded through the STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund, which was created by state lawmakers in 2013.
Last year, the Indiana Department of Education released data showing a growing teacher shortage. The department said initial practitioner licenses issued fell by 21 percent during the 2014-2015 school year compared to the prior year. The number has fallen by a third since 2009.
The greatest need is for teachers in the STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Governor Mike Pence said in a statement that the grants are amplifying efforts to recruit and retain educators in a field that’s rapidly changing the jobs of tomorrow in the Hoosier state.
“When it comes to ensuring our young people are on a pathway to success in the workforce or in post-secondary studies, a STEM curriculum is critical. I applaud and congratulate these grant recipients for their efforts in seeing that Indiana is filling teaching positions in this critical, high-need area,” Pence said.
The 2016 STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund Award recipients include:
– Conexus – $226,788
– Independent Colleges of Indiana – $2,140,353
– Indiana Association of Career and Technical Education Districts – $237,556
– Nextech – $277,283
– Purdue Research Foundation (three grants awarded) – $1,109,947
– Teach for America – $2,154,539
– TNTP – $1,034,036
– University of Notre Dame – $370,972
– University of Southern Indiana Foundation (two grants awarded) – $763,437
– Woodrow Wilson Foundation – $1,294,801
Award recipients will use the grant funds for teacher training in STEM subjects, dual credit teacher credentialing, mentoring programs, and programs aiming to retain great teachers.
“These projects will help Indiana fill STEM teaching positions in high-need areas across the state,” Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said. “Amid statewide and national conversations about the need for more teachers who are qualified to teach STEM subjects, this fund supports efforts that help Indiana attract, support and keep great educators.”
Other actions are being taken or considered to make teaching a more attractive profession in Indiana. A Republican lawmaker’s proposal would let teachers in math or science negotiate their own contracts instead of being beholden to collective bargaining contracts negotiated by teacher unions. Other ideas include acceptance of teachers licensed in other states and a student loan forgiveness program.