We have a teacher shortage, but we did it to ourselves. College’s costs and complications encumber teachers with debt, don’t prepare them for actual classrooms, and keep the profession monolithic. This leads to worse outcomes for students, stress on our districts, and diminished economic output for our state. 16 states, from Tennessee and Texas to Michigan and California, have unlocked the future of teaching before we have: teacher apprenticeships. A 2+2 model with 2 years of lectures and a 2-year student teaching apprenticeship halves teachers’ tuitions, improves students’ results, and fills the teacher shortage with diverse, qualified educators. The apprenticeship model already works for high-status professions like doctors, IT staff, electricians, and artisans, and teaching can meet that same standard.
Let’s face it: becoming a teacher doesn’t make sense. To start, you have to be one of the 19% of Wisconsin high schoolers who graduates from a 4-year college.1 You probably left $22,000 in debt,2 but your salary starts in the mid-30s and your benefits nosedive if you ever leave the state. Your primary path to a raise is dropping $45,000 more on a master’s degree,3 braving such courses as “Resilience and Self-Care”4 and “Coloniality of Language and Science in Education.”5 You got rocked your first year in the classroom because your college taught you wrong,6 and you’re close to quitting after just 1 year like 11% of Wisconsin teachers do.7 Even the softest hearts for students harden under this pressure.
When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?