NORMAL (AP) — Illinois State University has seen a nearly 13 percent decline in the number of new teacher education students, statistics show.
The Normal school's College of Education had 681 new students in the summer/fall of 2008. That number was 594 for the same time period in 2012. The biggest decline was in elementary education — more than 20 percent, The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reported Sunday.
There was a small increase, 7 percent, in early childhood education majors but decreased enrollment in middle level education and special education.
College administrators and education professionals say a change in entry requirements for education degree programs may be to blame. Other possible causes include the economy, pension disputes, how society values education and testing and job prospects, said Amee Adkins, associate dean for assessment and undergraduate education in ISU's College of Education.
"I think widespread news of school budget issues throughout Illinois may cause some students to think about their future job prospects and if they are not positively sure teaching is the absolute career for them, they may choose a different route," said Sandy Wilson, McLean County Unit District No. 5's assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.
Olympia school district Superintendent Brad Hutchison blames lack of reliable public funding for education.
"I feel we are losing some viable candidates," Hutchison said.
One way to combat the problem could be to talk about the rewards of teaching, Adkins said.
"There are these great rewards: human interaction; influencing the direction of young people; and helping them reach their goals," Adkins said.
Administrators also say interest in careers is cyclical and there could be more interest in education in the future.