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Hess co-chairing UW System Task Force for Advancing Teachers and School Leaders

January 25, 2019

UW-Madison School of Education Dean Diana Hess is co-chairing a task force that’s designed to help identify how University of Wisconsin System institutions can better meet Wisconsin’s need for more teachers and school leaders.

Hess is co-chairing this group with Deborah Kerr, president-elect of AASA, the national School Superintendents Association, and current superintendent of the Brown Deer School District.

The UW System Task Force for Advancing Teachers and School Leaders in the State of Wisconsin was announced Friday ‚Äčin this news release. The task force will have eight members in all and is to produce a report and recommendations by May 1, 2019, for presentation to the UW System Board of Regents Education Committee in June.

Diana Hess
“This task force is committed to working with stakeholders across Wisconsin to find innovative solutions aimed at addressing Wisconsin’s teacher shortages,” says Hess, who holds the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education. “We look forward to bringing together partners from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin’s teacher preparation programs, and the vast PK-12 community to propose ways to increase access to teacher education and school leadership programs. High-quality educators are an investment in Wisconsin’s future and serve as catalysts of opportunity by helping children in every corner of our state.”

“All of our Wisconsin school children deserve to have the best and brightest teachers in their lives,” Kerr says in the news release. “We are looking forward to working collaboratively to identify best practices for teacher recruitment and retention and collectively create a plan of action. Our Wisconsin educational system can only continue to grow, thrive, and excel with a vibrant workforce.”

The UW System news release explains how, in June 2017, Regent Regina Millner started a discussion among the Board about the reduced enrollment at UW System Schools and Colleges of Education. This is leading to significant impacts on rural areas and in high-need subject areas. Over the past year, the Education Committee, which Millner chairs, heard from a variety of experts on the subject.

In December, the Regents asked the UW System Office of Academic and Student Affairs to create a task force to present a series of proposals that address challenges and questions related to such enrollments.

The challenges include:

• Significant declines in enrollments in teacher education, teacher certification, and school leadership programs;

• The low number of certified teachers and administrators graduating from UW System institutions — especially relative to the demand.

The task force will address how the UW System can work with stakeholders to improve college affordability, reduce student loan debt, address teacher workforce shortages in Wisconsin, and increase access to teacher education and school leadership programs in the UW System. It will also focus attention on understanding the concerns of communities, district administrators, school leaders, teachers, students, and parents while also raising the esteem of teaching in Wisconsin.

“We welcome the opportunity to help put forward solutions to Wisconsin’s most pressing challenges,” UW System President Ray Cross says in the news release.  “Whether it is economic development, research, or education, the UW System will be on the frontlines in offering its experience to help make a better Wisconsin.”

Other members of the task force are: Gary Albrecht, commissioner, CESA Statewide Network and interim school superintendent, Wauzeka-Steuben School District; John Ashley, executive director, Wisconsin Association of School Boards; Mary Gulbrandsen, executive director, Fund for Wisconsin Scholars, and a member of the UW-Madison School of Education’s Board of Visitors; Kim Kaukl, executive director, Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance; Carmen Manning, dean, UW-Eau Claire College of Education and Human Sciences; and Carolyn Stanford Taylor, superintendent of public instruction, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Others may be added to the task force.

Information in this news release was provided by the UW System. 

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