WEA partners with WWU to build a more inclusive teacher workforce

As many as 50 students are expected to receive funding this year

A new partnership with the Washington Education Association will provide scholarships to WWU teachers in training—and help diversify the state’s pipeline of educators.

The WEA, the state’s largest teachers union, has pledged $1.5 million in scholarships for WWU teacher education students, particularly to support students in the midst of student-teaching. As many as 50 WWU students are expected to receive funding this academic year.

The funds are meant to address a key problem: The state’s teaching force does not reflect the diversity of the state’s population. According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, people of color made up about half of Washington’s students in 2021-22 but only about 14 percent of the state’s teachers.

But students are more successful when they see themselves reflected in the front of the classroom, with improvements in grades, test scores, graduation rates and college enrollment.

By partnering with WWU’s Woodring College of Education, the WEA hopes easing some of the financial barriers to becoming a teacher will encourage a more diverse group of students to choose the classroom for their careers. Many teachers, however, begin their careers with considerable student debt. The traditional path to teacher certification involves a bachelor’s degree plus a semester of student teaching, often without pay.

In addition to providing financial support during this fifth year of teacher preparation, WEA member-teachers will also serve as mentors to students to encourage them to continue with their degrees and join the workforce.