Dipping Enrollment Leads To Suspensions Of Education Preparation Programs


Thursday, January 6th 2022, 5:59 pm



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Some universities have suspended new enrollment into their education departments. 

Administrators at Oklahoma City University said they started to see a decline in interest in their teacher preparatory programs beginning about 10 years ago. 

This trend is reflected in universities around the state. 

There’s only three students left to graduate as new teachers from Oklahoma City University’s elementary education and early childhood development programs. The decision to end the programs happened in spring 2020.

“When numbers dwindle to the point where its no longer sustainable, and its difficult to bring adjuncts on, then it doesn’t make sense to continue a program like this,” said Heather Sparks, Oklahoma City University director of teacher education and education chair. 

She said passionate education students will enter the field no matter what, but what happens as their career progresses is yet to be seen. 

Southeastern Oklahoma State University suspended their undergraduate special education program this fall. They are currently in talks to determine if and when the program may restart. 

In a statement, University of Central Oklahoma administrators said they do not have plans to cut teacher preparatory programs at the university at this time. 

"However, we have experienced a decline (about 20%) in enrollment trends in these programs in the past five years. We have declined about 30% in the past 10 years. These trends are similar to many other Oklahoma universities and reflect national trends in many states. While we have been able to sustain all of our teacher preparation programs to date, we have had to eliminate some class sections, offer some classes less frequently, and reduce faculty positions in response to shrinking resources," the statement said.

OCU administrators said they would restart the program if enrollment increased. 

Sparks said some financial incentives could help change this trend. 

“We’re hoping truly that the legislature makes some decisions to offer some better incentives so that students want to enter the profession and stay in it,” said Sparks. 

Sparks said low salaries for teachers is one of the main determents for students considering becoming a teacher.

She said some of the other things that the legislature could propose during this upcoming session are stipends to help pay for some of the costs of a teacher getting their credentials. 

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