$62K Grant Boosts Efforts to Tackle Houston’s Teacher Shortage
By Hayden Bergman
Pick up the Houston Chronicle, and you’ll quickly learn that the question of how children in the region should be educated is an issue on which few can agree.
Regardless of one’s position, all can agree that more qualified teachers are needed. The data shows, however, that there’s a shortage—Houston needs roughly 4,000 new teachers annually, while those produced sum to less than 2,000. Right on cue, the College of Public Service (CPS) and their Alternative Certification Program (ACP) have been awarded roughly $62,000 from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to help meet the ever-present demand for skilled educators.
Dr. Ronald Beebe, Professor and Chair of Urban Education, is the principal investigator (PI) of the grant, while Dr. Eve Zehavi, Assistant Professor of Urban Education, is a co-PI, along with Dr. Diane Miller, Associate Professor and Assistant Chair for Graduate Studies.
“In the midst of the current teacher shortage, this grant will provide support for a non-traditional approach to becoming a certified teacher in the state of Texas,” said Dr. Beebe, emphasizing that such a non-traditional approach directly meets the needs of Houston students. “As one of the leading producers of teachers in the Houston area, this grant offers another preparation route that enhances UHD’s role as an anchor institution.”
The grant monies will allow UHD to continue the work of directly interfacing with local schools to identify their needs and to supply “day-one ready teachers,” like alumnus Jonathan Broadhead. The benefits of this work are manifold: PK-12 students will have well-qualified teachers capable of achieving positive student outcomes, while local schools will receive teachers that require less onboarding. Also, ACP students learn relevant skills in curriculum planning (in person and online), bilingual teaching, mathematics and literacy pedagogy, as well as classroom management and organization.
While immersed in their studies and internships, the students will receive support through weekly mentoring from UHD faculty. They’ll also receive financial and academic support as they study for the teacher certification exam.
In speaking to the Houston Chronicle, a spokesperson for the newly installed HISD Superintendent Mike Miles said that the district knows “[they] are going to struggle to find certified teachers,” making UHD’S receipt of the THECB grant not only needed, but timely.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.