UW System task force aims to help fill teacher shortages

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A new task force is focused on how the University of Wisconsin System can better meet Wisconsin’s need for more teachers.

The Elk Mound School District says being in a rural area can present difficulties in filling specialty teaching positions.

Superintendent Eric Wright said, “There are some specialty areas that are difficult to fill. We did have an opening for high school science; those are always difficult to find applicants for.”

Dean of UW-Eau Claire College of Education and Human Sciences Carmen Manning hopes to help fill teaching shortages through her work on the task force.

Manning said, “Where do we go next? How do we address this issue in the state of Wisconsin so that we have high quality teachers in our classrooms?”

The 8-person task force plans on looking at ways to improve college affordability, reduce student loan debt and increase access to teacher education and school leadership programs.

“Once students graduate and become teachers we have some retention issues in schools,” explained Manning. “The problems of low salary, low esteem and difficult working conditions in schools have a real problem for teachers staying and persisting in the profession of teaching.”

The members will also work to understand the concerns of school leaders, teachers, students and communities.

“I think there's going to be some attempt to work on that understanding between communities and schools and how we might better support the profession of teaching and teachers as individuals in our communities and in our schools,” added Manning.

The task force is scheduled to provide recommendations to the UW System Board of Regents Education Committee in June.