News

PSU contributes $547K to keep Portland Teachers Program going strong
Author: Jillian Daley
Posted: July 1, 2019
Cora Price grew up as a foster kid and is now a single mom. But her hardscrabble life hasn’t stopped her from achieving her dream of becoming a teacher through PSU’s College of Education (COE).

Price is enrolled in COE’s Portland Teachers Program (PTP), which was founded to train more teachers of color for Portland area schools. PSU pays all of its PTP students' tuition and fees, so the mother of two can study full-time to get her master’s and teaching license at the same time through PSU’s Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP).

“I’m a single mom who is making it because of the program,” Price said.

Recognizing the importance of the program, PSU has allocated an additional $547,000 to fund the program, 90% of which will go into tuition remission for students.  

“We are thrilled that PSU made this investment because PTP is a critical program that is putting quality teachers of color into our public school systems,” COE Dean Marvin Lynn said. "For the past 30 years, PTP has effectively and consistently placed mostly African American and Latino educators in classrooms where they have advanced equity, diversity and inclusion for all students.”

Now in its 30th year, the program — which is a partnership between Portland Public Schools, Portland Community College and the Beaverton School District — has produced 231 graduates. PTP has contributed to Portland schools’ success as having the highest teacher diversity in Oregon at around 20%, Lynn said.

“This can likely be attributed directly to PTP and other successful long-standing teacher diversity pathways programs at PSU’s College of Education,” he said.

Both Portland and Beaverton school districts have also contributed some funds to support the program, but the bulk of the funding comes from PSU. 

PTP Director Deborah Cochrane said the program requires students to teach in Portland or Beaverton schools after graduating. As of October 2018, PPS had hired 158 graduates and Beaverton had hired 18 others, she said. The 11 program graduates who finished this year are still being interviewed. 

PTP students are also required to write many papers, create a portfolio, volunteer in a classroom and perform a 100-hour practicum.

The idea for PTP sparked 33 years ago when people of color in the community told local and state officials that more teachers of color are needed in the Portland-area public school systems. They argued that having diverse teachers could create better outcomes for students of color, and three years later, PTP was born. 

According to an April 2018 article by the Learning Policy Institute, diverse teachers help improve academic performance and graduation rates for those students. 

Tough as the program may be, what keeps students enrolled is the community they find, according to recent COE graduates Laurel Monroy and Emilie Walker. “I couldn’t have gotten through school without PTP’s financial support, and also the community it created,” Monroy said.

Walker agreed, saying school would have been impossible without PTP, both “financially” and “spiritually.”

For Price, PTP has already made a difference in her life and in the lives of her two children.

“I wouldn’t be in school right now if it wasn’t for the program,” she said. “It allows me to pursue my dreams and spend time with my family.”

Photos: Top Photo: Cora Price beams at a May 31 event at the Portland Community College Cascade Campus honoring Portland Teachers Program graduates. She graduates in 2020, but she was celebrating friends' graduation this spring and shared her excitement about her own future graduation next year.

Bottom Photo: From left to right: Emilie Walker and Laurel Monroy were honored during a celebration for Portland Teachers Program graduates May 31 at the Portland Community College Cascade Campus.

You Can Help: To donate, contact Adam Patterson, Director of Development, for the PSU Foundation: College of Education, at 503-725-4789 or pattersona@psuf.org.

To share stories on the College of Education, email Jillian Daley at jillian@pdx.edu.