Pasco School Board urges USF to reconsider College of Education plans

About one-third of the district’s annual teaching hires come from the university.

Tampa Bay Times | by Jeffrey S. Solochek | November 3, 2020

The Pasco County School Board on Tuesday joined the chorus of opposition to the University of South Florida’s decision to stop offering undergraduate degrees in education.

Calling the university’s move a “huge disappointment,” board members unanimously adopted a resolution encouraging USF leaders to maintain the teacher preparation programs that school districts throughout the region rely upon. They followed the Pinellas County School Board, which approved a similar measure a week ago.

Pasco regularly has dozens of teaching interns in its schools, and about 30 percent of its annual hires come from the undergraduate programs. School principals have said USF graduates are among the best prepared for the work, coming to the classroom ready to teach without the need for more training.

“High quality teachers are essential to the training of our youth,” said board chairwoman Colleen Beaudoin, a USF graduate and chair of the University of Tampa’s school of education.

She acknowledged that the numbers of students seeking to become teachers have declined in recent years, and suggested that several outside forces have made the profession less attractive. Still, Beaudoin said, the university should work to reverse the trend rather than give in to it, and she said she would support any effort to do so.

“Teaching is a noble profession,” she said. “Being a teacher is rewarding and fulfilling.”

Board member Alison Crumbley said the district relies on the university, and deemed the pending program shutdown a “letdown.”

“I don’t think people outside education fully understand the impact this will have,” said superintendent Kurt Browning, who brought the resolution to the board for consideration.

He said he would send it to USF’s president, provost and interim dean of education.

During a community conversation on Zoom last Friday, interim dean Judith Ponticell said she wanted to work with the school districts to seek workable options to continue providing teacher training.

Photo: Pasco County School Board member Colleen Beaudoin says teaching is a “noble profession,” and the school district should work with the University of South Florida to prevent closure of undergraduate degree programs in education. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times ]

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