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Teacher-Training Bill Offers Help for HBCUs, Others

Teacher-Training Bill Offers Help for HBCUs, Others
By Charles Dervarics

Minority-serving institutions may house Centers of Excellence devoted to teacher training under legislation the House of Representatives has approved this summer.

The Ready to Teach Act would create high-quality teacher-training programs at historically Black colleges, Hispanic-serving colleges and tribal colleges. The act reserves about $10 million next year for these Centers of Excellence plus unspecified sums in future years.

Other provisions of the bill would provide teacher recruitment grants to bring new individuals, including students of color, into the teaching profession. The bill also would take steps to guarantee that teacher education programs emphasize strong teaching skills, rigorous academic content and appropriate use of technology in delivering instruction.

To qualify for funds, a minority-serving institution must have a teacher preparation program. Colleges may form consortia of minority-serving institutions or partner with other colleges, provided the center is housed at a minority-serving institution.

Projects can retrain faculty to provide more focused teacher education coursework. Centers should prepare teachers to help reduce student achievement gaps through scientifically based research and challenging content standards.

Centers also would provide high-quality clinical experiences, including greater cooperation between future teachers and exemplary teachers, principals and administrators.

Representatives of Black colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions have identified aid for teacher education as a priority for the next Higher Education Act reauthorization.

Elsewhere, the bill would fund scholarships based on financial need to help students pay for their higher education costs.

One controversial part of the legislation would rank colleges and university teacher education programs based on the pass rate of their students on state licensing exams. Higher education leaders are “concerned” about this provision, said Dr. David Ward, president of the American Council on Education. He said the plan may “create a misleading perception of the quality of teacher education programs.”

The bill, H.R. 2211, sponsored by Rep. Phil Gingrey, D-Ga., cleared the full House by a 404 to 17 vote. The measure now goes to the Senate for review.

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