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Incentives For Future SD Teachers

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College students in South Dakota could see incentives if they agree to teach in critically needed subject areas after graduation.

The Senate Education Committee endorsed a scholarship plan aimed at recruiting new teachers for math, science and other specific subjects.

The measure's main sponsor, Senator Tim Rave from Baltic, said South Dakota colleges are not turning out enough new teachers to replace those who are retiring.

Teachers and students at the University of Sioux Falls said they support this scholarship plan.

"Math is downright beautiful," said Douma.

Jason Douma, has been a mathematics professor at the University of Sioux Falls for the past 15 years.

Professor Douma said in 2007, the National Science Foundation identified science technology; engineering and mathematics as a critical need area Nationwide.

He said South Dakota's Senate Education Committee's scholarship plan to recruit new teachers would help fix this growing problem.

"Finding ways to give these students an incentive to consider teaching in science and mathematics is an excellent idea, otherwise we'd lose them to other fields," said Douma.

The bill would give scholarships to college students who agree to teach in high need areas for at least five years following graduation.

These are not small scholarships; students working towards teaching careers could have their tuition covered for their final two years in a private or public college.

Around campus students say they're pleased to hear about this possible opportunity.

"I kind of want to teach math in middle school because I have a passion for that," said Schouten.

Grant Schouten, a senior at USF, studying Elementary Education said scholarships would attract college-goers.

"If you even put that incentive out, they'll bring those people that may not know they have that passion and then they'll start being like, I really want to teach this, lets do it," said Schouten.

The scholarships would help because of the cost of getting a degree.

"Any help you can get from an outside source or within is very beneficial," said Schouten.

Something John Pasiuk, agreed with as well, he's backed up with student loans following his career chase in nursing.

"I wish it was available to me," said Pasiuk.

Professor Douma said the State Legislature is on the right track to addressing higher education.

"It's good to see our Legislature identifying and prioritizing needs to education. There's always more we could do, but I think this is an important step in the right direction," said Douma.

The bill will now head to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will review the measure because it would spend money.

$5 Million is estimated to set up the scholarship program.

Last year 534 teachers retired in South Dakota’s school district and just 482 students graduated from state universities, who majored in education.
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