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Will Removing the Math Education Program Impact Public Schools?

By Savannah Cooper
On October 9, 2018

Current and future educators are concerned that southern West Virginia may not have enough qualified math instructors.
Photo Courtesy of Caleb Zopp

Recently, Concord University opted to remove the math education major. This decision has many around the community speculating on how the public schools in West Virginia and their teachers will be affected.

Due to the math education program having a low enrollment, Concord decided to only offer a degree in mathematics. Lisa Darlington, director of the math department, explains that students who wish to hold a math education profession can still pursue a career at Concord. Since the state of West Virginia allows individuals to teach with a mathematics degree, students can complete their degree then either attain a teaching certificate or a Masters in the Art of Teaching.

Moving to the new math education track will eliminate the semester which students are required to student teach at local schools. Students now will mostly take math classes with introductory education classes being mixed into the cirriculum.

Students who are enrolled in the math education program who can complete their student teaching by a certain date are able to obtain the math education degree. One of these students includes Taylor Blankenship, a senior at Concord.

Taylor will soon be graduating and entering the school system as a math teacher. She says her academic schedule went through major changes because of the eradication of the math ed program. Since she needed to student teach by fall semester 2019, she had to make up for the time she lost in her schedule. Blankenship shares the process she has gone through to receive a math education degree from Concord.

She states, “This decision forced me to apply for acceptance to the education program within one week of finding out about the future of the program. Typically, education students do not apply to the program until after taking EPAT and have weeks and/or months to get their application ready.”

She continues by saying, “Eliminating the program has also forced me to pay very close attention to scheduling classes. I have taken summer classes each summer, this first summer term taking 12 hours which is twice the suggested maximum of 6 hours. I have also carried over 15 hours the last three semesters to compensate for my loss of a semester. It may not seem like too much of a challenge to carry 18 hours a semester, but as a mother of a toddler taking 5 and 6 math classes at a time, it has definitely been a challenge.”

Blankenship, a future educator, gives her opinion on the future of math education in West Virginia by stating, “I think that unless the university decides to rethink their decision, the future of math ed in West Virginia looks very grim. The state will be at a serious loss for math teachers.”

A math teacher at Princeton Senior High School, explains her thoughts on Concord removing the math education program. She says, “I think Concord getting rid of the program is a step backwards not only for CU, but for our entire area. Nationwide, the STEM initiative is being pushed in our education system. The demands of secondary math teachers are many-not only do they have to have knowledge of their content, but they must have the skills necessary to teach that content to others.”

She continues, “This is where Concord`s Math Education classes play a vital role. The student teaching semester is the most critical semester of college education. Without student teaching, one is simply not prepared to teach in our public schools.”

The PSHS math teacher also has concern about Southern West Virginia being negatively impacted by the decision and the affects that come with that decision.

She says, “West Virginia is in desperate need of qualified, certified secondary math teachers. Local high school juniors and seniors who are considering a career as a math teacher will now be forced to look at colleges other than Concord. Those who do travel ‘North’ for their math education degree are very likely to not return to teach in Southern West Virginia.”

She then says, “The bottom line is that Southern West Virginia may not have teachers qualified to teach mathematics. This means the next generation of students may not have the math skills required to make it in our technological world.”

Individuals living and teaching in Southern West Virginia have concern for the math education programs, as there isn’t a secured future for those Both Blankenship and the local math teacher at PSHS conclude that future programs and students in the field have a chance of being hurt by the decision of Concord taking the math education program away.

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