Twenty-eight student teachers in the School of Urban Education (UED) at Metropolitan State University are currently placed in public schools in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and surrounding suburban areas for the spring 2018 semester.
For the first time, not a single student teacher from Metropolitan State paid tuition costs for their student teaching credits. UED Dean René Antrop-González proudly announces that through grants awarded to UED, Metropolitan State students who are fulfilling the student teaching requirement for licensure this spring semester were awarded grant monies to cover the costs of their tuition. In many cases, UED student teachers have received enough funding to pay for tuition and a portion of their living expenses.
“Mandated, full-time unpaid labor via student teaching is based on a raced and classed model that does not honor our students’ lived realities,” says Dean Antrop-González. “Consequently, pre-service teachers—especially pre-service teachers of color and American Indian pre-service teachers—have either not been able to become licensed teachers or have had to unjustly sacrifice their basic needs to complete student teaching. In a strong union state like Minnesota, the perpetuation of this practice is simply not acceptable.”
The student teaching requirement is typically the final step for completion and consists of 8-9 credits, depending on licensure area. The average tuition cost is $2,104 for an undergraduate student and $3,304 at the graduate level.
These funding sources for UED student teachers are important to help alleviate the cost for what is essentially an unpaid full-time internship. Student teaching is an endeavor that can take 12 to 15 weeks, and presents a huge barrier for many students who are trying become licensed teachers.
“Working full time and being a mom put stress on trying to balance everything. Having a paid student teaching internship has helped me enjoy the experience better; to not worry about how I am going to pay bills or feed my family. If I hadn’t gotten this help I wouldn’t be able to finish my college career,” says Jennifer Delatorre, a mother of two graduating from UED. Her student teaching assignment included a ten-week placement in preschool at the Eastern Carver County Community Education program, and another five weeks at La Academia in Chaska.
Funding was made possible through collaboration by UED and Metropolitan State University Office of Development to win a grant for $46,200 from the Graves Foundation. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education, thanks to collaborations between the Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota and the Minnesota Legislature, has also awarded grants up to $7,500 to student teachers based on their financial need. UED was also recently awarded a legislatively funded Collaborative Urban Educator program grant of $90,000, disbursed over the next two years, to be used to cover student teaching-related expenses. Finally, in collaboration with the Metropolitan State University Office of Development, UED also awards over $30,000 annually to support its student teachers.
“I decided to become a teacher when I started working in a middle school after-school program. In this job I noticed how important teachers were in a student’s life. When I started working as a paraprofessional, the desire became stronger and I was 100-percent sure that my passion was teaching,” Delatorre says. “When I evaluated teacher education programs I made sure to consider the time of the classes and flexibility. I wanted the program to support English language learners. UED professors teach with real-life experience, which gives you a different perspective about education and urban learners. You learned about others’ cultures and beliefs, which helps you understand the world and environment better.”
Metropolitan State’s School of Urban Education covers many facets of the current public school makeup in the metropolitan area, with the primary goal of educating teachers who can relate to racially/ethnically and linguistically diverse classroom populations. UED prepares more teachers of color than any other program in the state; currently there are 320 teacher candidates in six licensure programs, and over 50 percent are candidates of color. Currently, over 30 percent of students in Minnesota schools are students of color and American Indian students, yet only 4 percent of their teachers are of color or American Indian. The gap is even wider in many Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota schools with a majority of students of color and American Indian students.
The School of Urban Education at Metropolitan State recruits teacher candidates of color and American Indian teacher candidates and “first-generation college students” who have the potential to provide a more relevant learning atmosphere of high expectations for their students by bringing their own life experiences to the classroom. Future teachers enrolled in the program are able to choose from early childhood education, elementary education, and two content areas for secondary teaching, which include social studies and English.
“Decades of educational research clearly shows the importance and need for K-12 students to have access to teachers of color and American Indian teachers. The challenge is that while many policy makers and postsecondary teacher preparation programs say they understand this important need, they often lack the required political will to implement their words into action,” says Dean Antrop-González. “Fortunately, thanks to the Minnesota Education Equity Partnership and the Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota and their significant work with the state legislature, the tide seems to be turning. This work, however, needs to be sustained over the long term. I am honored to work with a teacher preparation program that understands and works tirelessly with a sense of extreme urgency around this issue.”
For more information about the School of Urban Education, contact René Antrop-González, dean and professor of urban education, at firstname.lastname@example.org (651) 999-5959.