• IDRA Newsletter • October 1998 • 

A new Model Teacher Preparation and Leadership Development initiative will develop a comprehensive, binational and interdisciplinary program for teacher preparation and leadership development. In collaboration with the Mexican and American Solidarity Foundation, IDRA has been awarded the grant by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for a five-year period. More than one-third of the grant will be used for student stipends. The program will serve as an example for preparing educators to work in bilingual and bicultural environments.

The number of Latino youth in the southwest United States is increasing. At the same time, there is a critical shortage of people who are prepared and certified to teach students who are learning English. The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that one-third of teachers lack college preparation in the main subject areas they teach (and even less have preparation in their subject areas using English as a second language techniques). As a result, only 47 percent of the country’s 3.2 million children who are learning English are being served in bilingual or English as a second language programs – and even fewer are enrolled in well-designed, well-implemented bilingual programs taught by a certified teacher who speaks their native language.

“It makes sense to teach children in a language they understand,” said Dr. María Robledo Montecel, executive director of IDRA. “It also makes sense to teach them English. This program will maximize the skills and talents of educators that have so far been overlooked. We will prepare them to effectively teach students who are learning English,” she said.

This binational project will enable 200 teachers to become leaders in bilingual and bicultural settings. Participating universities will expand their bilingual curricula to include courses of study and practical experiences that will enhance the abilities of teachers, parents, administrators, school board members, and community leaders to collaborate effectively. The project will also enhance the capacity of Latino and non-Latino students and educators to speak Spanish and work in cross-cultural environments – abilities that are essential to success in the 21st century.

This program will target teacher aides who are bilingual, traditional students in teacher-preparation programs in universities and normalistas who are legal U.S. residents who were teachers in Mexico. The program will also equip educational systems to prepare teachers?and other educators to perform effectively in bilingual, binational and bicultural circumstances. These include universities that offer studies leading to bilingual education certification, schools and communities that offer sites for practical experience, and research and support institutions.

Participating universities include: Arizona State University, California State University at Long Beach, University of Texas – Pan American, University of Texas at San Antonio, and Southwest Texas State University.

Comments and questions may be sent via e-mail to feedback@idra.org.

[©1998, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the October 1998 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]