College life is tricky to balance. Trying to navigate classes while maintaining a healthy social schedule and a part-time job is stressful. If your parents aren’t paying for college, it feels like the stress doubles. Imagine the life of the average education major.

At a certain point in their college curriculum, education majors are tasked with entering a real-life classroom to gain hands-on experience educating the next generation. Much like full-time teachers, they’re not getting paid as well as they probably should. They are paying college tuition for the experience.

It’s stressful enough to think that students take on the responsibility of making sure younger students are learning what they need to, but imagine the stress of not being able to pay rent because the job you dedicated most of your day to isn’t supporting you financially. For elementary and special education majors, this stress lasts an entire school year.

For some reason, Northwest requires the aforementioned majors to teach for a full school year. Every other type of education major is only required to teach for a semester.

What is the logic behind making elementary and special education majors teach longer? It can be argued that special education teachers require more experience with special needs students because of the training required to adequately educate them. However, why has it been decided that only future teachers of a specific age need a full year?

It shouldn’t be the need for practical experience. There’s a national teacher shortage. States, including Missouri, are lowering requirements left and right to get more people to enter their schools. Why hold back numerous qualified candidates for another semester of experience they don’t need?

If the University is truly saying that these future teachers need more time then it should be consistent at all levels. If not, the University is either cheating students out of experience or overworking those who teach for a full year.

The idea of working without pay is disheartening to anybody; it’s worse for teachers because of the current average salary. Missouri’s average salary for teachers in 2020 was slightly less than $51,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

If Northwest prides itself on its education program, it shouldn’t use unnecessary tactics to prepare its students for the real world. Forcing students to rely on loans to make it through undergrad isn’t the best look, especially for one of Missouri’s most affordable four-year institutions.

Many students in the U.S. are scared to go to college because they’re unsure of how to pay for it. Northwest’s approach to experience-based learning somewhat reinforces students’ fears. That shouldn’t be the case.

Even if a student isn’t paying for college by themselves, they still have to pay rent if they don’t return to teach in their hometown and live with previous guardians. Many college students work a part-time job during school to pay for whatever they might need outside of school. Asking education majors to work two jobs for the pay of one is unreasonable. Northwest should work something out to help students financially while they prepare for their future careers.

These future educators are deciding to enter a field where they will likely be underpaid, overworked, vilified and used as political cannon fodder. Does the University really want to be in the business of making their jobs, their futures, their lives, harder?

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