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  • Brian Freiberger

2020 = no education majors Looming regulations force Olivet to phase-out teacher prep

As the 2015-2016 school year is upon Olivet College, the Lamp of Learning burns brighter than ever. However, not so much for the college’s teacher preparation program, Despite having made extensive improvements over the years, the education program is being phased-out.

Director of Education Lisa Furman, Ph.D., oversees the education department and is familiar with the accreditation process that is administered at schools which offer teaching programs.

“Our accrediting body, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), is requiring significantly amplified data collection and reporting of all its member institutions by the 2016-2017 academic school year beginning this fall,” said Furman.

As a result of the CAEP’s harsh requirements, the Olivet College’s teacher preparation program will undergo a “phase-out” over the next four years.

However, in 2014 and 2015, the Michigan Department of Education-Educator Preparation evaluated Olivet College’s teacher preparation program as “Satisfactory,” the highest award an institution can earn.

“The Olivet College Teacher Preparation Program has been working diligently to meet these new external demands and to offer a teacher preparation program of high quality for our students,” she said.

Olivet College currently has an enrollment of nearly 1,100 students – 43 of whom are education majors, or four percent of the college’s total enrollment. Statewide enrollment in teacher preparation programs offered at the collegiate level have been down 38 percent. Olivet College has seen about an 80 percent decline of students entering their teacher preparation program over the past five years, according to Provost Maria Davis, Ph.D., who released a statement earlier this summer.

“The decision to phase-out our teacher preparation program was a painful one for all of us and came only after months of careful study and deliberation,” said Davis. “I feel it is important to emphasize that this was our decision, made in the best interests of our students and the college; it was not forced upon us by any outside agency,” she said.

Further, Davis stressed that the college “estimated the need for six additional full-time faculty and staff to meet these new overreaching regulations. Sadly, the job prospects for future teachers in the state are also in decline, with a current 2:1 new graduate-to-job-opening ratio in the state. With statewide enrollment in teacher prep programs down 38 percent and our own having declined almost 80 percent in the last five years, we simply could not justify the additional long-term obligations to the college that would be required to continue preparing future teachers,” said Davis.

By 2020, there will no longer be education majors left on Olivet College’s campus. As the state of Michigan has seen a drastic decline in teacher preparation programs, Olivet College won’t be preparing students entering into the education discipline either.

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