Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

With Teacher Program, MSIS Seek to Defy Budget Trend

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

With Teacher Program, MSIS Seek to Defy Budget Trend

Article excerpt

In the current fiscal climate, getting a new program approved and funded by Congress seems a tall order. But the White House and minority-serving institutions are doing just that in seeking support for a new teacher education program.

Historically Black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges could serve as Hawkins Centers of Excellence for teacher education under the plan put forward by the Obama administration. The White House wants $40 million in startup funding for this initiative, which would award competitive grants to minority-serving colleges to enhance their teacher education programs.

The administration outlined the plan in its 2012 budget last winter and cited its importance again recently in a new report on improving education outcomes for Hispanic children.

"Closing the achievement gap between African-American and Hispanic students and their White peers is a primary goal of the administration's education agenda, and supporting the preparation of effective teachers for high-need schools is a key strategy toward reaching this goal," said the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in its new report, "Winning the Future: Improving Education for the Latino Community."

Nationwide, more than 22 percent of public school students are Hispanic, but less than 7 percent of teachers are Hispanic, the report noted.

The program is named for the late Augustus Hawkins, a longtime congressman and former Congressional Black Caucus chairman who led the House of Representatives' education committee in the 1980s and '90s. Hawkins, the first Black U.S. House member from California, died in 2007 at age 100.

MSIs are firmly behind the budget request. "It's a much needed program as our nation works to close achievement gaps," says Edith Bartley, government affairs director at the United Negro College Fund.

Under the proposal, a minority-serving college could obtain $500,000 a year for five years for enhancements to teacher education programs. Predominantly Black colleges, Asian American-serving institutions as well as Alaska Native-serving colleges also could apply for these funds.

Any new idea for a program generally faces two battles on Capitol Hill--one to gain authorization and a second to gain funding. …

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