Despite data showing statewide enrollment in teacher education programs on the decline at University of Wisconsin System schools over the past years, UW officials say it is not the case in Madison.
University of Wisconsin School of Education Associate Dean Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell said UW-Madison has only seen a small decline in specific teaching programs but not an overall decline in recent years.
“Our programs are refocusing in some cases, so while we do have small enrollment in some programs, it’s not because of lack of interest from the part of the students,” Hanley-Maxwell said. “It’s because we are making a program change to better reflect the views of the field.”
UW System spokesperson David Giroux said in an email to The Badger Herald statistics show that UW-Madison has seen little to no decline in its education programs from 2008 to 2012, despite declines in enrollment elsewhere in the state.
The elementary education, music education, science education and earth science education programs have seen a small decline in their programs, however programs such as social studies education have seen an increase in enrollment, according to the UW System data.
Students who are pursuing a certificate in teacher education were not included in the enrollment statistics for education programs.
“The declining enrollment statistic, overall, are not even declining that much because the count that the system gave does include all the people that enroll in our future education program,” Hanley-Maxwell said.
She added the decline at other schools is not likely caused by the implementation of Act 10, a law included in the 2011-2013 biennium budget that drastically changed collective bargaining rights for public employees, including public school teachers.
UW senior education major Katherine Klinger said she is not surprised by the decline statewide because of the political atmosphere surrounding teaching.
“Because of these political issues, a bad stigma has been created among the population about the deficits that a career in education would bring them,” Klinger said in an email to The Badger Herald.
Despite the “stigma,” Klinger added the students choosing to not pursue education because of the politics are probably not suited to be teachers.
“Anyone who knows the people in the education program know that we are dedicated to our students and want the best for them,” she said.
Klinger added it is likely students will be more encouraged to join the profession after the added pressure from politics declines.
Klinger also said she is hopeful about future enrollment because of the curriculum for education students, such as teaching in Madison area classrooms as student teachers.
“I have specific classes dedicated to teaching each subject, as well as direct experience in a classroom,” Klinger said. “Having the balance of these two types of learning helps me learn better as a future educator.”
Madeleine Behr contributed to this article.