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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Three degrees for $45,000: New program aims to diversify teaching

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Students could earn three degrees for a total of $45,000 on their way to becoming a teacher through a new partnership between Marian University and Ivy Tech. The program is designed to address a teacher shortage and lack of diversity.

The initiative will begin as a pilot program of 100 students this fall with a goal of 50% of the participants being students of color. The goal is to enroll 500 students by 2025.

Through the program, high school students can begin earning an associate degree at Ivy Tech before transitioning to the Klipsch Educators College at Marian, where they will earn a bachelor’s degree with a teacher certification. Students will then pursue a master’s degree at no cost and participate in a one-year paid clinical residency in an Indiana classroom.

The total cost of $45,000 is before any potential student aid.

“This partnership will provide the opportunity for many more students to earn an affordable, high quality teaching degree to fill the critical teacher shortage Indiana is facing,” Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann said.

Teresa Lubbers, the state’s commissioner for higher education, said the most recent data shows only about 15% of educators graduating from college come from a “minority population.” About 4% of teachers in Indiana are Black, according to data from The Education Trust.

“There’s a clear disconnect between the classroom need and our current pipeline of educators coming out of college,” Lubbers said.

The partnership can create a more straightforward, affordable path for future teachers, but one of the main contributing factors to Indiana’s teacher shortage is pay.

The National Education Association reported the average teacher pay in Indiana for the 2018-19 school year was $51,119, a little more than $10,000 under the national average and one of the lowest in the Midwest. Average starting salary was $37,573.

A recent state commission to increase teacher pay set a goal for average starting salary statewide to be $40,000 and average pay to be $60,000.

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