New Indiana program to attract teachers with diverse backgrounds

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana is facing a teacher shortage crisis, but help is on the way. Not only is the state investing record-breaking dollars into education, but some public-private partnerships are expected to help as well.

The latest initiative recruits more teachers with a focus on diversity.

When Aye Ta moved from Burma to the United States, she had a teacher who changed her life at Southport.

“He was my inspiration,” said Ta.

Like him, she wants to become an educator. In that role, she could relate to Burmese students in ways not many can at the moment. The state needs people like her because there’s a shortage of teachers in Indiana, especially those with diverse backgrounds.

A new program looks to change that by allowing high school students to begin earning an associate’s degree at Ivy Tech, and then transition to Marian University’s Klipsch Educators College for a bachelor’s and then master’s degree for no more than $45,000 total.

“I think we are going to see more opportunities like this,” said Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner. “More partnership increases across our state in the coming months, and certainly the dollars coming in from state and federal are going to help us.”

Indiana invested more than $1.9 billion in new education funding this session.

“We see it as a great opportunity right now for our Indiana schools to be innovative and to be bold,” expressed Jenner.

She said this Ivy Tech and Marian University program is a perfect example of that and encourages a different kind of experiential learning.

“It kind of sets your passion on fire when you can actually do it,” said Jenner.

The initiative will begin as a pilot program with 100 students in the fall of 2021. They want at least 50% to be students of color. Then by 2025, they expect to have 500 students enrolled in the program. Ta hopes to be one of them.

“That would be my dream come true,” said Ta.

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