Program changes complicate training

Posted: Friday, October 27, 2000

People considering pursuit of education degrees through Kenai Peninsula College need to do some homework. Changes at the statewide University of Alaska have complicated the process.

"It has been a really crazy situation," said Sherril Miller, who coordinates the education programs at the college in Soldotna, a branch of the University of Alaska Anchorage.

About three years ago, the university decided to phase out the undergraduate teaching degree program and phase in a fifth-year graduate program. The move is part of a national trend to encourage educators to earn degrees in academic specialties before getting teaching certification. The old bachelor of education program will end in December 2002, Miller said.

In May, the university began piloting its fifth-year graduate classes for new teachers.

But the looming Alaska teacher shortage caused an about-face from the university administration. Now it is trying to develop a new bachelors' level education program as well to produce more home-grown teachers, she said.

"They can't just reinstate the old program. They have to develop a new program," Miller said. "The directive from the (University of Alaska Anchorage) chancellor to establish the new baccalaureate program is directly related to the teacher shortage," she said.

College students need to be cautious to avoid getting stuck in the transition. People who took courses under the old program need to plan ahead, she warned.

"It is not clear what is happening when. We should know in a few months," she said. "We still have four semesters to go. We are getting down to the wire."

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