Contact: Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650

October 28, 2002

SMU RECEIVES $3 MILLION TO TRAIN BILINGUAL TEACHERS

DALLAS (SMU) -- SMU has received approximately $3 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of English Language Acquisition to train bilingual teachers for students in grades 1-6. The grants are among the first awarded under the "No Child Left Behind Act of 2001."

SMU received two of the 130 grants awarded nationally in 2002. Each grant is for approximately $1.5 million over five years.

The first grant awarded to SMU will be used to offer scholarships to teachers in the Dallas Independent School District to receive certification in bilingual education. The program has been designed to "fast track" 30 DISD teachers at a time through a 10-month course of study.

"The purpose of this grant is to create a partnership between DISD and SMU to produce 150 bilingual teachers over the five-year period," said Robert Patterson, dean of Education and Lifelong Learning at SMU.

Patterson said the program will be specifically designed to meet the language acquisition needs of DISD's Spanish-speaking students. It also will include an intensive Spanish language component for teachers who are not fluent in Spanish.

"There are a lot of teachers in DISD who want to go into bilingual education but their proficiency in Spanish isn't quite good enough," said Carmyn Neely, associate superintendent for instructional services at DISD.

The second grant will be used to offer scholarships to teachers who want to receive certification n bilingual education with a focus on talented and gifted (TAG) children. This grant program will be a joint effort with seven North Texas school districts: Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Dallas, Garland, Grand Prairie, Irving, Plano and Richardson.

"Many Metroplex ISDs are striving to locate and serve students from all populations in their gifted programs," said Kathy Hargrove, associate dean and director of the Gifted Students Institute at SMU. "Increased teacher training has proved to be a significant factor in making this happen."

Bill Pulte, director of SMU's teacher certification programs in bilingual education, said the combination of TAG and bilingual education has created tremendous interest. "Many Spanish-speaking children are very bright, and those who teach them would like to get training in how to help these students achieve at the highest possible level," he said.

Both programs will take advantage of SMU's expertise in bilingual education and talented and gifted education. SMU has offered certification programs in bilingual education since 1976 and is home to the Gifted Students Institute, which offers programs for gifted students, their parents and teachers, including certification in gifted and talented education.

School districts are required to offer bilingual education for students in grades 1-6. Pulte has estimated that Texas currently has a shortage of about 8,000 bilingual teachers. The statewide shortage is the worst in the Dallas area, where there is a need for about 1,800 bilingual teachers. Only about half the students statewide who need bilingual education are in a program because of the shortage of certified teachers, and only 46 percent of the students in the Dallas area are in a program. DISD could use an additional 450 bilingual teachers right away.

Teachers interested in receiving applications for either of these programs at SMU may call 214-768-2184 or send a message to mas@mail.smu.edu.


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