The University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development received a $4.5 million grant Thursday to improve curriculum for prospective teachers.
The funds, awarded by the Bush Foundation, will be used for the University’s Teacher Education Redesign Initiative ; a program aimed at redesigning curriculum and changing the courses offered in the teacher education program, said CEHD Dean Jean Quam.
“While we all modify our curriculum, this really gives [CEHD] a chance to do it very intensively and work with schools in the area to find out what they want us to be teaching as well,” she said.
The grant money will also be used to support new teachers once they’ve graduated from the University, keeping tabs on them for 3-5 years and providing mentors and support. It will also allow CEHD faculty and students to work with local K-12 schools to get feedback on what qualities prospective teachers should have.
The curriculum changes will hopefully be in place by fall 2011, Quam said, and will likely not affect students already in the teacher education program.
The Bush Foundation said in a statement that it wants the universities who receive the grant to produce concrete results, especially by raising the test scores of students taught by their graduates. The foundation also requires partnerships between K-12 schools and the universities.
“This type of guarantee [to produce effective teachers] has never been offered before that we know of,” said Susan Heegaard, vice president and educational achievement team leader for the Bush Foundation, in a statement.
Thirteen other schools in the Midwest, including four schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, St. Thomas University and Augsburg College, received the grant from the Bush Foundation. The foundation was created by former 3M executive Archibald Bush and his wife in 1953.
The TERI initiative has recently been under scrutiny due to controversial guidelines on teacher’s cultural sensitivity in a report produced by its race, culture, class and gender task group. The report calls for all graduates of the teacher education program to understand and accept issues such as white privilege, stereotyping and homophobia.
The guidelines have been seen by some as a means of indoctrination, but Quam said the report was simply a list of ideas brainstormed by faculty.
Quam said there is a group of about 50 faculty and community members who will decide on the final TERI proposals. The money from the Bush Foundation will be distributed over 10 years, though CEHD will receive most of it right away, Quam said.