New grant will help Sacramento State fund next generation of teachers - The State Hornet: News

New grant will help Sacramento State fund next generation of teachers

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Posted: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 12:00 am

  • Jonathan Ayestas Digital Managing Editor

A $3 million grant was created to improve the California State University standards for instructing students seeking careers in teaching.

The funding by the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation will be appropriated in the 2014-15 academic year through Preparing A New Generation of Teachers for California, an initiative the CSU shared with the Bechtel Foundation.

The grant is one of several in the past, showing the foundation’s ongoing support for CSU Standards.

Teaching Credentials Department Chair Pia Wong said the grant will make it easier for K-12 instructors and university teacher educators to work together to understand the standards, create new curriculum and develop new teaching strategies.

“The changes required by the [Common Core State Standards] and [Next Generation Science Standards] require all sectors of public education to develop some kind of thoughtful response and implementation plan,” Wong said. “Thus, implementing the standards will require serious and focused effort. Any support is valuable, and $3 million certain provides the California State University with substantial support.”

The Common Core standards were created to ensure people in one state are receiving the same level of education in another state or country. For example, a student in Wisconsin will be taught the same knowledge in a course as someone in Alaska or Paris.

CSU Director of Public Affairs Mike Uhlenkamp said the money is going to help the system take charge of the standards instead of trying to play catch-up from years of neglect from funding cuts.

“Because the CSU is such a huge producer of teachers, it’s important for us to be in front of that,” Uhlenkamp said. “We’d rather be in front of it rather than behind of it. With the funding we’re going to receive, it’s going to allow us to be in front of the changes.”

The Bechtel Foundation made contributions to the Sac State and Sacramento City Unified School District in the past, which went towards creating additional certification for math and science elementary teachers who already held credentials, but the money this time will be designated for the CSU teaching program.

“Because we prepare teachers for K-12 schools, our faculty must also learn these new standards and revise our courses and program experiences so newly credentialed teachers can effectively teach the new standards,” Wong said. “We are excited by this prospect and have already begun the process of aligning our programs to the standards.”

Lauren Dachs, president of the Bechtel Foundation, showed support in a CSU press release that addressed the foundation’s continued six-year partnership with the CSU statewide system by announcing the grant’s confirmation.

“We applaud the CSU for responding the new Common Core Standards and Next Generation Standards with such a bold effort that will benefit California’s teachers and students,” Dachs said.

How much funding Sac State’s teaching program will receive is yet to be determined, but Wong said it will likely become a competitive proposal process for campuses across the system to see how much money each will receive.

Wong said teacher preparation is best done when there is a strong partnership between schools and university teacher programs, and the grant should provide help towards further developing that relationship.

“When new reforms like the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards are introduced to K-12 schools, university teacher preparation programs must also become knowledgeable about the reforms so that they can prepare future teachers appropriately,” Wong said. “While each sector would likely engage in these activities on their own, teacher preparation is always strengthened when we can do this work collaboratively, so there is alignment in the K-18 sector.”

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