In April, students at UW-La Crosse School of Education (UWL-SOE) “spit” on campus sidewalks to express their displeasure with policies impacting their education. These range from a cumbersome and unnecessary requirement to buy iPads to how the school has artificially limited field placements.
The SOE Dean’s ineffective leadership is amplified by a pandemic-aggravated teacher shortage. A look at the UWL website and LinkedIn shows how the lack of credentials and experience on the part of leaders is at the heart of this problem (state law requires trainers teachers have more than 3 years of PK-12 teaching experience). Neither the Dean nor the Acting Associate Dean have PK-12 teaching experience; the latter does not have a degree in teacher training and has held the “interim” position for five years.
The revolving door of faculty in SOEs is a sign of poor leadership. Nationally respected teacher trainers have left and several searches have failed to find replacements. As the leader of a local educational organization and the spouse of a former professor who filed a grievance against the university, I have heard countless testimonies from current and former SOE professors about a tone control model, of toxicity and incompetence demonstrated by the leadership. The bad treatment of students is the last guarantee of this leadership.
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Since there is no internal accountability at UWL, it is crucial that trustees and board members of local school districts demand accountability from UWL, as these districts stand to lose the most of a misdirected SOE in one of the largest teacher training programs in the state.
Executive Director, Wisconsin High School Forensic Association