In Wisconsin, and nationally, the need for special education teachers continues to rise.
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) is now partnering with St. Norbert College to address the need for more special education teachers in Northeastern Wisconsin.
The collaboration allows undergraduate students to earn a bachelor’s degree and elementary education license endorsement from St. Norbert College and receive their special education license endorsement from UW Oshkosh.
UW Oshkosh is able to offer the courses to St. Norbert students through an online learning tool, plus two Saturdays each semester on the UW Oshkosh campus.
Although the public and private higher education institution collaboration is unique, the institutions share a common goal—to address the needs of the surrounding communities.
“For our college, it expands our collaboration and outreach to include private higher education institutions,” COEHS Dean Fred Yeo said. “This partnership allows us to increase the number of qualified special education teachers, which is especially needed in rural areas where it may be hard to find this expertise.”
Jeff Frick, vice president of academic affairs and academic dean at St. Norbert College said he hopes the partnership will be a model for future collaborations.
“The future of higher ed is going to be built on partnerships,” Frick said.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction granted more than 350 emergency licenses in special education and early childhood special education last year alone. There are more than 1,000 special education teachers currently teaching on emergency licenses in the state of Wisconsin because school districts are unable to find enough highly qualified special educators to fill open positions.
The UW Oshkosh COEHS has a similar partnership with the Northland College and with five UW Colleges, including Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Fox Valley, Fond du Lac and Washington County.