“One of the things that young people generally can be convinced of is ‘I’d like to make a difference in the world,’ and if I come out of a community and if I go back to that community – or even one very similar to it – I’m more likely to persist,” Michael Sayler said.
Education is a popular topic in the 2016 presidential election, focusing on urban education. Eastern Michigan University is giving attention to this topic through the new Urban Teacher Pathway Program.
This program takes middle and highs school students from urban neighborhoods who are interested in teaching and creates a pathway to help prepare them for the College of Educations’ curriculum and then places them back into the districts they originate from. This idea came from a pair of town hall style meetings last summer, with teachers from Ypsilanti Community Schools and Detroit Public Schools, where they told Sayler, the dean of Eastern’s College of Education, what they wanted out of teachers and the school districts.
Problems addressed included a lack of teacher retainment. Teachers will come to their home districts to work but they disappear fast because of district conditions or the lure of higher pay in the suburbs and rural communities.
This new program is designed to help “non-traditional” students succeed in the program through a combination of financial aid, an expedited admittance process and social services.
The program will guarantee the students a future interview with the school district they came from.
“If they don’t get the job, that’s fine,” Sayler said. “It’s getting a toe in the door. What we hope the districts will do is stay in touch with these folks as we go through the program.”
Sayler said he has no idea how big the program will be, but it could be scaled to grow or shrink as the economy needs. To qualify, students must be enrolled full time in the fall and winter semesters, have a GPA of 2.5 or higher and score a 20 or higher on their ACT to qualify for the Education First Opportunity Scholarship. This scholarship will pay for their entire tuition.
The COE is beginning breath again, leaving their ties with the Education Achievement Authority. This was a program pushed by Gov. Rick Snyder to help failing Detroit schools by putting them under the state capitals control. The districts and a great deal of the public saw viewed this as the state placing even more control on schools facing crisis. EMU’s involvement resulted in multiple school districts boycotting student-teachers from their campus.
When asked if this program was an attempt to rebuild bridges and make up for time lost under the EAA, Sayler said “I think it’ll do that, though that’s not its intention.”