The University of Memphis is losing education graduate students to alternative teacher certification programs, Teach for America and Memphis Teacher Residency, which offer an expedited path to the classroom and a tuition-free master’s degree, according to The Commercial Appeal. .

According to the article, “between fall of 2010 and fall 2013, enrollment in the university’s graduate programs in education fell from 1,072 to 642, more than a 40 percent decline. 

Professional licensure and instruction and curriculum leadership, once the largest tracks, have lost more than 400 students between 2009 and 2013.

Competition from TFA and MTR was part culprit in the university’s graduate enrollment drop, but Shelby County Schools’ decision in spring 2013 to stop paying teachers for advanced degrees didn’t help either.

In the larger scheme of the education reform landscape, Susan McLean Benner,  the associate dean of professional licensure and director of the graduate school of education at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville blames alternative teacher licensing programs for shortcutting a path to the classroom.

Benner urges that it is wiser for districts to invest in urban educators who have been working for decades with this population than investing in people who are spending a “few fleeting years” in the classroom and using them as a path to another career, Benner told The Commercial Appeal.

“It does far more harm than good because they have to be replaced every two years,” Benner said in the article.