Students and administrators are still uncertain about the future of education courses at Yale.
Students in the Teacher Preparation Program were surprised to learn from a three-line e-mail from the the program’s director Nov. 15 that the program would end this June. At a Thursday event to raise awareness about the end of the program, students said they are discouraged by the lack of clear information about what courses will remain and why the program has to end before juniors can complete the two-year certification, but added that Yale College Dean Mary Miller has agreed to meet with them next week.
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Nico Casasanto ’12 said the news of the program’s closure stunned him, especially since he had planned his undergraduate career around getting certified through Teacher Preparation courses.
“It was a startling way to find out,” he said of program director Jack Gillette’s brief e-mail. “We were not warned in any way.”
The Dean’s Office decided to reduce funding to the program and eliminate the certification option last summer, Miller said, but some of the courses in the program will continue to be offered under the heading “Education Studies.”
Miller said that the Dean’s office did not require the Teacher Preparation office to stop the certification this June, and Gillette could have continued the program until 2012. Gillette declined to comment on why the certification option will end this spring.
At Thursday’s event, a panel of four current and former students in the Teacher Preparation program talked about their experiences. Lined across the wall behind them were pieces of paper with testimonials from people who have been impacted by the program, which the task force plans to use in a report to the administration explaining the value of the program.
Both Miller and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education Joseph Gordon said they do not know which specific courses will be cut, but it is not their responsibility to decide.
“It is the decision of the director of any program to decide which courses are offered and who teaches them, within their budget,” Gordon said.
Gillette said he does not know which courses will remain because he does not yet know where the budget will end up. But Gordon said even though the budget is not completely finalized, Gillette should have a good idea about his funding.
Though students are complaining that they have not been told any of the specifics about the fate of the program, professors said Gillette has given them an idea of which classes will be cut.
Nancy Close, assistant professor at the Child Study Center, said Gillette told her she would be able to keep two of her three courses next year, but all of them will be phased out over the next one or two years.
Carla Horwitz, who attended the event and has directed Yale’s Early Childhood Education program since 1999, said Gillette told her that courses with low enrollments were being cut. But Horwitz said Early Childhood Methods (TPRP 127), which she is teaching for the last time this fall, is designed to have a small number of students because there is limited space for student observations at Calvin Hill Day Care. She added that her Child Development course (TRRP 125), which requires students to spend time in several local day cares, will remain because the multiple observation locations allow for higher enrollment.
Kaitlyn Newell ’12 said she is worried that many of the courses that have observational components will cease to exist, even though those courses give students unique practical experience with teaching.
Students also said they do not understand why the program has to end in the spring of 2011, preventing current juniors from finishing the two-year certification requirement.
Brian Bills ’12, who helped to organize the meeting and is leading a task force of undergraduates along with Newell to try to save the program, said convincing Yale to allow juniors to complete the program is his top priority. He said it was unfair to allow juniors to enroll in courses this fall with the intention to complete certification since the decision to cut the program was made during the summer.
Professors said they sympathize with the students who were blindsided by the change.
Horwitz said that since administrators knew the program was closing, and the requirements constitute a large time commitment, students should have been informed before the semester started.
“It would have been better not to allow students to start in September, rather than have to abort their program after having begun,” she said.
Last week a graduate of the Teacher Preparation Program created a Facebook event to garner support for the program, and 480 people were listed as “attending” by Thursday evening.
“I think it’s been powerful and encouraging to see how many people have responded,” said Alison Kadesch ’08, who created the Facebook event. “It shows that Yalies truly do see a need for teacher education at Yale, even if they haven’t had a personal experience in the program.”
Despite the large number of students who showed support of the program on Facebook, only about 20 undergraduate and graduate students attended the gathering last night. Bills attributed the low turnout to students’ busy schedules.
All three students interviewed who showed support of the program on Facebook said they did not have clear understanding of what will happen to the program, though they think Yale should value courses about teaching.
“I was under the impression that Yale was getting rid of everything, based on how upset some of my friends were,” Alyssa Newton ’12 said.
Last year three students earned teacher certification in the program, and this year no seniors are pursuing certification. At least three juniors were on track for certification in 2012.