Teacher Training a Likely Focus of Higher-Ed. Bill

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WASHNGTON--When lawmakers put the final touches on the bill reauthorizing the Higher Education Act of 1965 later this year, it is likely that they will have created new programs to boost teacher education and recruitment.

Often lost in the H.E.A. debate-which has concentrated on the embattled federal financial-aid programs--the teacher-training provisions expected to be included in the act's Title V are welcomed by teacher educators, who view them as symptomatic of increasing interest in teacher preparation.

"This is the first time in 15 years I've seen so much interest in teacher education," said Penelope Early, directer of government relations for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. "I think that's a good sign."

"Everyone recognizes that the quality of teachers impacts the rest of education," added an aide to Representative William D. Ford, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee. "But how we work out all [of the new proposals] will be the news."

For now, aides are saying little about the reauthorization legislation, which they said should be drafted in time to begin committee action late this month.

In addition, aides said, it is unclear what teacher-training proposals will ultimately be included in the n.E.A. and what proposals will be included in an omnibus education bill, focused on precollegiate programs, that is expected to move first in the Senate.

The aides said, however, that the teacher-training portions under consideration will surely be larger and have broader impact than the programs currently in Title V.

They are the Paul Douglas Teacher Scholarships, a $15-million program that makes $5,000 grants to college students who plan to become teachers; the Christa McAuliffe Fellowships, a $2-million program that underwrites leaves of absence for teachers; and three partnership programs totaling $9 million that facilitate collaboration between colleges and schools to improve teacher education, to develop alternative routes to certification, and to aid programs that provide additional training to teachers and administrators.

"This will not be a piecemeal approach,'' the aide to Mr. Ford said.

Consolidation Proposed

President Bush has suggested fewer changes to Title V than are favored by education lobbyists and members of the Congressional authorizing committees.

He has called for a consolidation of the partnership programs into one program that would provide three-year grants for teacher training and professional development.

Participating elementary and secondary schools would link up with a college or university, develop a method evaluating teachers' performance, and be encouraged to work closely with local social-service agencies, businesses, and other community organizations. The bill would authorize $20 million for the program. The President has also called for minor changes in the two scholarship and fellowship programs.

Several Congressional proposals would make many more changes.

Introduced last January by Senater Claiborne Pell, the Rhode Island Democrat who chairs the Senate Education, Arts, and Humanities Subcommittee, S 329 is a comprehensive teacher-training bill, parts of which will likely be found in both the omnibus bill and the H.E.A. legislation.

Senate Bill Provisions

The Senate bill, which has bipartisan support and is identical to one that was folded into last year's failed omnibus bill, would authorize: . Stafford-loan forgiveness of up to 30 percent for teachers employed by urban or rural schools or who teach in such high-demand fields as mathematics, science, foreign languages, or special education. . $27 million for the Paul Douglas program. . The establishment of a Teacher Corps. Members would receive up to $5,000 a year for as many as three years to pursue teaching degrees in exchange for five years of teaching upon graduation. . $15 million in demonstration grants for college and high-school consortia te operate language- and area-studies programs. . $38 million for the establishment of National Teacher Academies in 10 subject areas. . $50 million for professional-development schools that would allow experienced teachers to complete mid-career training.

House Measure

On the House side, Representative Bill Goodling of Pennsylvania, the ranking .Republican member of the committee Mr. Ford chairs, has introduced a teacher-training bill that has attracted considerable attention.

The measure calls for grants to historically black colleges and universities and other schools with high enrollments of minorities to develop links with school districts for establishing minority role models in the schools and encouraging more minorities to enter teaching.

It would also establish a national mini-corps of teachers drawn from the migrant community to serve migrant students. Colleges and universities would develop the programs.

The bill would also, among other provisions, provide funding for the development of partnerships between districts and local businesses, which would provide professionals to supplement teacher instruction in such areas as law, mathematics, science, and business.

Lobbyists Concerned While Ms. Early of AACTE said she was happy to see the increased interest in teacher education, she made clear that she considers all of the proposals flawed.

The Administration's effort, she said, suffers from a lack of money.

"If they're serious about education reform and about teachers and making teachers better and making schools better," she said, "they have to put more money in, and they haven't."

Mx. Pell's Teacher Corps is unnecessary, she said, because the money could be put into the Paul Douglas program and serve the same purpose.

Mr. Goodling's measure, particularly its migrant-education provision, is "interesting," Ms. Early said. But she is skeptical about his proposal to have the federal government provide technical assistance to states that are rewriting their teacher-certification and -licensing regulations.

"I'm not sure it's in anyone's interest in getting the federal government in the certification of teachers," Ms. Early said.

Representatives from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are also monitoring how the Congress handles teacher training.

Isabelle Garcia, a legislative specialist with the N.E.A., said that federal school-reform efforts must recognize that teaching has changed and that teachers need mid-career training. She also said the Congress should seek to increase the representation of minorities in teaching. Gregory Humphrey, director of legislation for the A.F.T., said that, if the Congress fails to make major changes to Title V, "it's going to be very difficult to fill the classrooms the way they are today."

Vol. 11, Issue 02, Page 19

Published in Print: September 11, 1991, as Teacher Training a Likely Focus of Higher-Ed. Bill
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