At the School of Education, our team works tirelessly to train future teachers and education professionals to tackle the growing challenges facing American education, including the teacher shortage. In fact, our online master’s programs were designed as a way to scale our efforts to improve our classrooms nationwide, and on Monday, September 11, an article in The Washington Post recognized our attempts to address the U.S. teacher shortage.
The article included data from a 2016 report from the Learning Policy Institute predicting that the United States may face a shortage of roughly 112,000 teachers by 2018 if current trends continue. AU’s faculty, including Julie Sara Boyd, the assistant dean for online education in the School of Education, understand that because the country already faces severe inequality in its educational outcomes, such a shortage will only exacerbate education’s (and society’s) deepest problems.
Sara Boyd and others decided that AU would do its part to address the shortage by increasing the access of its top-notch offerings. In other words, why not open AU’s School of Education programs to people all over the world, rather than just to those in Washington, D.C.? Thus, American University’s new online School of Education programs were born.
The three online SoE programs include an online master of education in education policy and leadership, a master of arts in teaching, and a master of arts in special education (with a focus on learning disabilities).
The programs’ focus going forward will be to level the playing field for teachers and students, by allowing full-time professionals to earn their master’s degree in the field of education and thereby giving students a greater supply of top-quality teachers. AU’s long and well-established political and social legacy is deeply felt within its SoE programs, both online and on-campus, and they incorporate a deep focus on how education programs help to prepare members of thriving democratic societies.
The university’s track record in helping students build a career is stellar: According to Sara Boyd, American University has a 100 percent placement rate for graduating teachers and a 93 to 96 percent placement rate for graduates in education policy. Alumni work in the D.C. Public Schools Central Office, the New America Foundation, the D.C. Board of Education, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, and as classroom teachers, professors, researchers, and program heads around the country.
With its new online programs, AU faculty and students will continue the work of thinking hard about the role classrooms and high-level education policy play in reducing inequality, improving widespread access to opportunity, and shaping a more functional democracy. Now, a greater diversity of future AU students will be able to join them.