Milwaukee likes to “keep it in the family,” especially when it comes to education.
UW-Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Public School System share a bond that is unique for the state.
Those pursuing a career in education at UW-Milwaukee are required to student teach in the MPS before they can graduate. It is a relationship that has been solidified over the years.
University students obtain full teaching responsibilities that are meant to prepare them for their future careers as educators.
As the state of Wisconsin faces a new budget, both school systems will face budget cuts that will affect the way they spend money and how they will be able to budget it. The MPS has been under pressure with an overwhelming majority of its students coming from families below the poverty line.
Working for what you want
Education majors at UW-Milwaukee follow a four-semester program once they are accepted in to the School of Education. The end of their track offers the students an opportunity to student teach (also known as the student certification program) at one of the schools in the Milwaukee Public School System. After completing their work in the MPS, University students receive their student certification.
The program is referred to as the UWM/MPS Special Education Internship Program.
According to the programs website, the program’s purpose is to prepare teachers to” provide special education services at the early childhood, middle, or high school level.” Education Majors who work as interns work in the MPS with full teaching responsibilities.
Taylor Dietman is a Junior at UW-Milwaukee. She is an honors student and was recently accepted into the University’s education program for early childhood.
Dietman completed field work at the Elm Creative Arts School working with special education children in a variety of age groups. Education Majors must complete fifty hours of field work within the MPS before moving on in their selected track. Dietman said she enjoyed her time at the school.
“We would mostly sit by some of the kids. Make sure they were on task,” said Dietman. “We’d read to them. The teachers were great with getting us involved.”
Student teaching takes field experience to a more involved level. Students who partake in the University’s internship will move from helping students, to teaching them.
Interns make their own lesson plans and gain experience of being in a classroom. They work in a classroom environment under the guide of a MPS teacher.
Emily Frazier is the Field Experience Program Manager at the School of Education.
“These teachers are great for the students to work with,” said Frazier of the teachers in the MPS.
Interns of the Special Education Internship work with full-time mentor teachers if the MPS while earning certification through UWM.
“There are a lot of great teachers in the MPS,” said Frazier. “There are very few teachers that do things that give the teachers a bad name, but they are not the norm.”
The Milwaukee Public School System is the largest school district in Wisconsin. There are over 84,000 students in almost two hundred schools.
Of the two hundred schools, 17 offer advanced placement (AP) courses for their students. The MPS has scored well below average in reading proficiency compared to other districts in the state.
This past March, Governor Scott Walker proposed budget cuts to the Wisconsin Public School Systems. The MPS released a statement claiming that 82% of their enrolled students lived in poverty. Despite cuts, the school system promised in a press release to try to maintain a quality of education in 2012.
Part of this change in the system will be reworking curriculum. These changes will be in the system’s science and math programs, where the MPS scored almost 30% lower than the rest of the state, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
“Over the last few months,” the school system announced in a press release, “MPS leadership and staff have been engaging a variety of outside experts, including representatives from the National Science Teachers Association and Department of Public Instruction, in assessing local needs for improving math and science education.”
Teaching in an urban environment is new for many students at UWM. According to the School of Education’s website, their goal is to “to provide leadership and inspiration for learning and human development in urban communities.”
UW-Milwaukee’s education majors will be a part of helping the MPS change its reputation: A change that both University and the MPS are looking forward to.
“I’m kind of nervous about student teaching,” said Dietman. “That’s part of the reason I came to UWM. I’ve heard a lot of good things.”