May 7, 2010

UW-Parkside Chancellor asks to expel teacher-ed program

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside's teacher education program -- threatened with a loss of its state accreditation last May, but reprieved with provisional approval last September -- is flunking out after all.

UW-P Chancellor Deborah Ford will ask to expel it next week, at the Faculty Senate meeting on Friday, May 14.

In a letter Ford, right, released today, she writes: "I am forwarding a resolution to the Faculty Senate today to suspend new admissions to the UW-Parkside Teacher Certification program and to dissolve the UW-Parkside Teacher Education department as it is now structured." She notes that her plan calls for "extraordinary action."

Ford proposes to halt new admissions to the program immediately, while giving those already enrolled 24 months to complete the program. She would create a new program to begin in Fall 2013.

The program ran into trouble early in 2009, when several charges were made about its record-keeping practices, and against then-director of teacher preparation Kelly McFatter. Some students reportedly were allowed to student-teach despite not having completed coursework; others did not have required documentation, or had not completed required exams. McFatter, who came to Parkside in 2006 from Louisiana State University, resigned in March 2009 and left the university. UW-P's internal investigation showed no intentional wrong-doing, blaming sloppy record-keeping. Ford became UW-P's sixth  chancellor in August 2009.

In September, when the state granted its provisional approval, State Supt. Tony Evers said full approval could be granted when UW-P's plan for bringing the program back into compliance with state rules was completed. The deadline for that was May 30, 2010.

Chancellor Ford's letter states:

A letter from Chancellor Ford on Teacher Education
Dear Campus Community,

I am writing today to address a very difficult topic and a decision we must make about one of UW-Parkside's core educational offerings.

After extensive analysis and consultation, I have come to believe that the Teacher Education program at UW-Parkside must be redesigned and restructured to ensure that future graduates enjoy a first-class educational experience. Recognizing that the quality of teacher preparation has a direct impact on the quality of K-12 education offered to Wisconsin children, I am convinced that UW-Parkside must take bold action to create the kind of teacher preparation program that meets the 21st century needs of students and communities we serve.

Provost Terry Brown and I have studied this issue closely, engaging in difficult conversations with faculty governance leaders, faculty and staff colleagues in Teacher Education, UW System administration, and Department of Public Instruction colleagues. Based on that consultation, and our shared concern for Wisconsin schoolchildren, I am forwarding a resolution to the Faculty Senate today to suspend new admissions to the UW-Parkside Teacher Certification program and to dissolve the UW-Parkside Teacher Education department as it is now structured. At my request the Chair of the Faculty Senate, Lisa Kornetsky, has agreed to call a special Faculty Senate Meeting scheduled for Friday, May 14, 1:00 p.m. and Dr. Gary Wood, Secretary of the Faculty, will post the agenda for the May 14 Faculty Senate meeting later today.

In advance of that meeting, I want to address a few important questions.

First, we must recognize that today's problems with teacher education at UW-Parkside are the byproduct of longstanding challenges which pre-date the faculty and staff members who now work in the department. As you know, this past year our colleagues in Teacher Education have worked diligently to address the corrective actions noted by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) in May 2009. We have completed the corrective actions and I want to thank those faculty and staff colleagues for their work to implement all the remedial measures mandated by DPI. Looking beyond the near-term requirements that we have successfully met, I believe that we must hold ourselves to a higher standard and build a foundation for future improvement.

Second, I invite all members of the UW-Parkside community to share ownership of this challenge and opportunity. Faculty senators representing all academic departments will be part of this important deliberation next week. After that meeting, I hope that we can come together as a united campus community to focus on one vital goal: Creating a first-rate teacher preparation program and PK-12 professional development that prepares UW-Parkside graduates to meet the needs of communities and schoolchildren statewide. Teacher candidates enroll in courses all across our academic departments, and they are supported by a wide range of student services. This means that we all contribute to their success.

Pending Faculty Senate approval, I hope to move ahead in three phases.

The first step is to suspend admission to the current licensure program, ensuring that current licensure students have the resources and personal attention they need to complete their certification requirements over the next 24 months. The Teacher Education staff will be prepared to answer questions and develop course sequence plans for students enrolled in the current licensure program. We will also work in partnership with area UW institutions to assist students who have not yet been admitted to the licensure program.

In addition to ensuring the quality of the educational experience for current UW-Parkside Teacher Licensure students, Provost Brown will establish a new leadership position, reporting directly to her, to oversee this transition, ensure continued service for current students, and lead in the development of a new program.

The second phase is the creation of entirely new degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, developed in partnership with UW-Parkside faculty and staff, area school districts and community leaders.

The third step will be to implement the new program and reopen admissions. We hope that this could be accomplished by Fall 2013.

I realize that you will have many other questions about this decision, and how it might affect faculty, staff, and students. Many of those questions will be addressed at next week's Faculty Senate meeting.

The decision to eliminate a program is one we neither make lightly nor alone. This extraordinary action, I believe, is necessary in this case and I ask for your support as we look ahead to creating a teacher preparation program that is the first choice of students and PK-12 partners in Southeastern Wisconsin.

Please feel free to contact me, Provost Brown, or members of the University Committee if you have questions. I look forward to our discussion next week at the Faculty Meeting and appreciate our work together as we look to the future in serving students and families in Southeastern Wisconsin.


Deborah L. Ford


  1. Ford has the right idea. I dropped out of the teacher ed program at Parkside a couple of years ago due to their lack of organization. Parkside needs to create a BA/BS in education or create an MA in education that builds on an existing undergraduate degree. Or both!

  2. How about a list of the sub-standard teachers who came from this program? How many now employed by RUSD? Will the state pull their licenses?

  3. My complements to Dr Ford for taking the appropriate and strong action. If you have a failing program you have to admit it and end it. To continue the program would diminish the reputation of the other fine programs at UW-Parkside.

  4. Many of the administration and professors at Parkside involved in teacher ed are arrogant!

    Not many may know but Parkside has had problems with this program since before 2000 believe it or not. There are alot of people out there with bad experiences to report im sure. Maybe more can come on this board and sound off?!

    I left teaching and Racine because of the shi##y people running the program at UWP who didnt give a damn. Trying looking up professors Neu and Becker for a start. Where are they now?! Hmmmm. How many chairs from this department previously resigned? More than 3 at least. Why?!?! And why are these news articles trying to spin it like these problems started with MCFatter when they go much father back than that? Time for some soul searching folks!

    Shame on Parkside. I wonder what other programs are in the same kind of state?

    Where is the oversight board?

  5. The average Racine teacher makes Racine $52,520, PLUS benefits and the top teacher gets $83,511, plus benefits. All graduates of UW-p, by theyr sorry performances.

  6. What a shitty spin on your headline - how about UWP to reorganize their teacher ed program. I think the actions that are being taken are well needed, but why take a bad situation and make it worse? Do you think your doing UWP a service for future enrollment - which ultimately brings more revenue into the area? Dustin and Pete you are knuckleheads!

  7. I liked it! If you didn't then why don't you write all the headlines for this blog? No, wait: why don't you write all the stories too? You're the knucklehead

  8. 8:47 - Great let's continue to try and give this area a bad name, that's how you get more people to invest in the area.

  9. What are you talking about? I didn't cause the problems with the program... and neither did Dustin and Pete. It's quite a leap to blame the story or headline for anything. What went wrong is the program at Parkside, and as the story said Ford is trying to fix it.

  10. 9:10 You are more ignorant than I thought. Who ever said it was your fault of Dustin and Pete. The issue is with the headline - Flunking Out - do you think that puts a good spin on the University as a whole? Sure there is an issue there and they are reorganizing to fix it. Reorganizing - not flunking out!

  11. I guess the boys must have agreed - they have changed the head line.

  12. Nevermind the heading on their home page is still the original.

  13. Hardly "reorganizing." Did you read the Chancellor's letter? It says: "TO DISSOLVE the UW-Parkside Teacher Education department as it is now structured."

    Stop focusing on a headline -- which is true, by the way. The issue here is Parkside's program, which apparently didn't follow the rules.

  14. 9:28 - The truth hurts.

  15. I understand that Parksides program had major problems but this announcement was made way too late. Now what are students who are already enrolled at Parkside but not in the program supposed to do, its too late to transfer out. If the Chancellor had any brains she would have made this decision much sooner so that those who wanted to ditch that sinking ship could do so.

  16. The Chancellor should be commended on this decision. The Department of Public Instruction should also be commended on doing a solid job during their investigation. Ultimately this decision came from within, not mandated by an external agency. I am in agreement with some of what many of you have posted. There is a history of leaders at UWP ignoring "the pimple" that simply reshifted everytime new leadership came on board.

    A bigger issue might be that the UW-System has ignored these warning for years. Hey, here is a thought, maybe a journalist could actually do their job and dig into some of these issues. The current senior vice president (Rebecca Martin) for academic affairs was the provost-vice chancellor for five years at Parkside. One memo I read suggested that at UW-Parkside "she focused on priorities of academic excellence, access, diversity, and engagement." Could someone please take politics out of all this and inform me how Martin was awarded the job at "System" when her record at UW-Parkside was at best, shabby? And by the way, Martin's attempt to aid UWP this past year by jamming a "System" person who failed miserably herself at two other UW Schools was a complete disaster.

    Lets not mix polictics with the truth. In this case however, politics ran a teacher education program into the ground.