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UND to launch Office of Teacher Recruitment and Retention

According to a news release, the university is setting up an Office of Teacher Recruitment and Retention, in response to teacher shortages in the state and across the nation.

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GRAND FORKS — UND is launching a new initiative to address a shortage of qualified teachers in the state.

According to a news release, the university is setting up an Office of Teacher Recruitment and Retention in response to teacher shortages in the state and across the nation. Plans call for the office to be fully staffed later this summer, with programs beginning in the fall.

“Every child deserves a highly-qualified teacher,” said Cindy Juntunen, dean of the College of Education and Human Development at UND. “We are committed to putting our time and energy into preparing more new teachers for the state. We also believe that understanding and valuing the experience of current teachers is essential, to keep qualified teachers in the profession. Our new focus on recruitment and retention will help with both of these goals.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, teacher shortages in North Dakota span a myriad of areas, including early childhood and elementary education, math, social studies, and health and physical fitness. Declining enrollment in teacher education programs in recent years combined with various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to the current crisis.

The Office of Teacher Recruitment and Retention has a number of goals in working to counteract the teacher shortage. Goals include:

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  • Slowing or reversing the downward enrollment trend in teacher education programs;
  • Providing support to current teachers and addressing underlying causes of teacher stress and dissatisfaction before they leave the profession;
  • Establishing more resources for children across the state through rural summer camps in reading and STEM; and
  • Introducing new opportunities for training to recruit new students interested in educational careers.

In a statement to the Herald, Grand Forks Public Schools Superintendent Terry Brenner and Human Resources Director Linsey Stadstad said they welcomed the initiative, and that they are part of regular planning with UND relating to teacher retention.
The GFPS website indicates there are several jobs open in the district, particularly in the area of special education.

“Spring is always extremely busy with job postings,” reads a portion of the GFPS statement. “Perhaps an illustration of great need is that we have 18 special education positions open. We are working on a number of planning fronts, including collaborating with UND, on filling those positions.”

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The policy faces another hurdle as the administration contests a separate Nov. 10 ruling by a federal judge in Texas deeming the program unlawful.

Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at akurtz@gfherald.com, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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