Youngstown State University has sunset programs and cut faculty to battle the enrollment decline, which is something every university has coped with for several years now. However, YSU has recently been awarded $200,000 for one very specific reason: to help fight educator shortages.
According to a Vindicator article, the university is aiming to put this money toward scholarships for students currently studying to become teachers as a lack of educators in the Youngstown area runs deep.
Students studying education at YSU are watching their own educators lose their livelihoods. The message the university is sending to students who want to become teachers is suffering from imbalance. With continuous cuts to faculty how can their future jobs be safe and secure?
The Beeghly College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences and Education has three faculty who were non-renewed from this year going into next, which only adds to the cuts faculty have already faced at YSU.
YSU “wants” students to pursue education degrees — it seems — with this grant, but how can the university back such a claim when you look at the degrees that are being sunset? The university is sunsetting art education at the master’s level and Italian education at a bachelor’s level.
Students who hear about the grant and scholarships available will be drawn to YSU to study education, but that draw won’t last long when incoming students learn what they want to study isn’t available and professors who have a degree in that field are constantly being cut.
With the university struggling to fight declining enrollment, providing less options for possible students certainly doesn’t help as these students could simply go elsewhere to pursue a degree with similar scholarship opportunities.
This scholarship wasn’t unique to YSU either, as Kent State University received the same grant award to help combat faculty shortages. Unlike YSU, KSU does offer a master’s degree in art education, making the possibility for students to go elsewhere with more options and the same scholarship opportunities likely.
The draw of being awarded a scholarship or grant to help students pursue a degree is integral in boosting enrollment, but what draw is there if those students are watching the jobs they want be cut time after time?
The grant awarded to these students is well-deserved and a bright spot in regard to everything young educators have been through, especially during the pandemic, where many educators had to teach remotely and fight against never-before-seen learning curves, but students are not ensured a piece of the scholarship pie.
The university is encouraging students to pursue education while consistently turning their backs on the very educators they’ve hired to teach and inspire the next generation.
We as students – studying education and not – must do our best to support our faculty in the hopes they’ll be around long enough to support us.