Teaching Program under Fire; Illinois Dramatically Cuts Spending on Grow Your Own Teachers Effort

Article excerpt

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - It sounds like something that would pop up on a math test: A teacher-training program gets $19 million in state aid. Over six years, it produces only 70 teachers. How much has the state spent for each teacher so far?

The answer: More than $271,000 each.

While that appears to be awfully expensive, advocates of the Grow Your Own Teachers program insist those numbers are misleading and incomplete. The way they see it, Illinois put money into a long- term investment that's on the verge of paying off with highly motivated teachers working in the most troubled parts of the state.

"This is a program worth investing in," said Maureen Gillette, dean of the College of Education at Northeastern Illinois University. "If the pipeline gets cut off now, we'll never know how effective our teachers can be."

Grow Your Own Teachers is still alive, for now. The latest state budget includes $1 million for the program, down from $2.5 million a year earlier. But critics hope this is the last time Grow Your Own gets any state support.

"We found it to be an egregious waste of money," said Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet.

The program's goal is to take people living and working in poor communities and help them get college degrees in education. Ideally, the graduates will teach in those same communities and, because of their roots there, will wind up staying for years to come.

People in Grow Your Own apply for whatever federal aid, scholarships and grants are available to pay for college. …


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