During the second semester of every year, senior education majors are required to student teach for 10 weeks. This semester, Concordia will have 50 education majors learning to be teachers in area schools. Part of this teaching process is a $200 fee, which has recently come under question.
Debra Grosz, the education department’s Director of Field Experiences, said that the fee goes directly to the classroom teacher who supervises the student teacher as a small honorarium for their services.
“None of that money stays in the department,” she said.
Caitlin Lien, a Concordia senior who is currently student teaching at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felt Elementary School in Dilworth, Minn., thinks that the fee is warranted.
“I think it’s nice to offer the supervising teacher some form of an honorarium just for taking the time out of their semester,” she said. “I just don’t know if that $200 is the right amount for a college student on top of Concordia tuition.”
In addition to the cost of a Concordia degree, education majors have many other expenses. They have to pay a similar $50 fee their sophomore or junior year for their clinicals, and they have to pay to take two standardized tests, called Praxis exams, which can cost anywhere from $80 to $250 dollars, depending on the subject. Once this is all done, they have to pay to apply for their licensure in Minnesota—another $85.20. By the end of college, the student teaching fee may be the straw that breaks their back.
Edward Huttlin, the band director at Fargo South High School, agreed. Huttlin has had over 46 student teachers in 26 years, and said that while the supervising teachers deserve to be rewarded for their efforts, the student teachers don’t need the extra expense.
“I think the fee the cooperating teachers receive is fair, but I think it should come out of their tuition,” he said. “Basically, you pay tuition, then you go out and help somebody do their job.”
Huttlin continues to have student teachers work in his classroom because he enjoys it. He believes the real reward for having student teachers is the opportunity to work with them.
“I think that it’s fun to see the growth in the student teachers,” he said. “It’s fun to see them when they first come—they’re pretty green. All of the sudden, 10 weeks later, they’re pretty seasoned.”
The fee is a courtesy that Concordia, along with the education programs at NDSU and MSUM, do for the licensed teachers who take on the student teachers. According to Grosz, the fee is optional in Fargo for student teachers, which is unusual. In some places, including the Twin Cities, an honorarium for the supervising teachers is mandated.
“It’s sort of an expectation,” Grosz said. “Even the best student teacher is going to be a lot of work for the classroom teacher.”
But according the Huttlin, the fee is small compensation for all the work that it takes to prepare and mentor a student teacher. He said he has often had to work nights in order to prepare scores and lessons for his student teachers.
Grosz agreed. She said the honorarium works out to about $4 a day for the classroom teacher over the course of their 10-week commitment—well under minimum wage.
“To be honest, it’s not the reason why you do it,” Huttlin said. “When you look at the extra time involved…you’re making very little for your time.”
For the student teachers, the time that classroom teachers are willing to invest is invaluable and most are very grateful. Lien said that her student teacher is very willing to talk to her about teaching and answer any questions she has.
“He’s basically there to help me whenever I need it,” she said