UTeach Austin receives Raise Your Hand Texas Funding
On Monday, July 10, Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation announced its Raising Texas Teachers initiative, which allocates $50 million in scholarships over the course of 10 years to future teachers at 10 universities across Texas, including The University of Texas at Austin.
Up to 20 UTeach Natural Sciences students can receive $8,000 scholarships each year to put toward their degrees; UTeach students major in a STEM field while concurrently earning a teaching credential.
Says Dr. Mark Daniels, UTeach Co-Director and head of the Raising Texas Teachers program at UTeach Natural Sciences, “[These scholarships will] help broaden our pool of students, and increase the diversity of our students. It’s going to take a big burden off of students financially.
“We want to select very promising students who show aptitude, who seem to be very interested,” he continues. “I think this will help us with retention. We have good students start the program, but they leave to become, for example, actuaries, because they want to make more money. If we can offer scholarships so that they have less to pay off when they graduate, maybe the enticement of a job just to make more money will have less influence.”
The Raising Texas Teachers initiative is intended to increase the number of high-quality undergraduates pursuing teaching in Texas, especially those serving high-needs schools and in-demand subjects. “Too often, teachers are asked to learn on the job with too little formal training in the practice of teaching. We wouldn’t ask a pilot to learn on the job, nor a doctor without close supervision from an expert practitioner. The profession of teaching, and the education of our children, is no less important,” said Alison Badgett, Executive Director of Raise Your Hand Texas, in a news release. ”With Raising Texas Teachers, our goal is to support universities that are rigorously preparing students to address the needs of 21st century students, and to help them to recruit the best and brightest to the profession.”
Daniels sees great potential for the future of the teaching profession in Texas thanks to Raising Texas Teachers. “If we can be successful in this, these teachers should be treated like professionals. And maybe then there will be talk of paying teachers more and trying to keep them in teaching because, as we all know, many teachers leave the profession after a while. Even though the pay scale may not be the greatest, that says something about the people who go into the profession. They go into teaching because they love what they do.”
But the Raising Texas Teachers initiative isn’t just about providing scholarships to pre-service teachers. The 10 universities receiving this funding, which includes UT Rio Grande Valley, Texas A&M, Rice University, Trinity University, and University of North Texas, are expected to collaborate with one another to prepare the best teachers possible. This collaboration could take many forms, including a leadership and mentoring program for preservice teachers. Other University of Texas at Austin programs that will receive this funding include elementary ESL/generalist, elementary bilingual, special education and UTeach Urban Teacher secondary education programs within the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction.