TC Wins Federal Funding to Prepare Dually-Certified Early Childhood Teachers
Published in Inside - Volume XVII, No. 3
As state and local school districts struggle to finance pre-K-12 budgets this year, very young children are in danger of being deprived of early education experiences. This is especially the case for young children with disabilities and English language learners who are from immigrant or low-income families. A new federal grant positions Teachers College to help address this problem, while at the same time providing much-needed scholarship money to pre-service initial certification students who will be recruited from diverse backgrounds.
The five-year, $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services will help TC prepare dually-certified teachers in both early childhood education and early childhood special education. The teachers will work with immigrant children and their families, said Mariana Souto-Manning, the lead Principal Investigator on the grant. The co-principal investigators are Celia Genishi, Professor of Education in the Curriculum and Teaching Department; and Susan Recchia, Associate Professor in the Curriculum and Teaching Department.
As described in the grant proposal written by Souto-Manning, Genishi and Recchia, the TC program -- called the Quality Universally Inclusive Early Responsive Education, or QUIERE Project -- “seeks to expand an existing master’s degree program leading to initial dual certification in early childhood education and early childhood special education, to include more diverse students and to address more fully the needs of young English language learners and low-income families.”
The TC grant is funded through the U.S. Education Department’s $11.5 million Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities Program. "Students with disabilities deserve the same world-class education as their non-disabled peers," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in announcing the federal grants. “These grants will move us closer to that goal by giving special educators valuable training.”
More than 65 percent of the TC grant money will fund scholarships for 40 pre-service students. The grant is expected to benefit at least 40 additional students through improvements in placements and curriculum. The interdisciplinary program will include collaboration with the New York City Department of Education and the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Early Intervention.
Students will earn a Columbia University master’s of arts degree in Integrated Early Childhood Education, with dual certification to teach both mainstream and special education students, and be able to develop and apply competencies associated with high-quality and culturally-relevant early childhood special educators. Graduates of the program will be prepared and certified to work with infants, toddlers, and young children with disabilities and their families. They also will develop a particular expertise in working with immigrant families and low-income families. Grant recipients will commit to at least four years of teaching in high-need settings.
The program will emphasize three target areas: meeting the needs of young learners and families with low incomes; meeting the needs of English language learners; and early literacy for diverse learners.
Souto-Manning said TC will expand established relationships with high-need child care centers and schools in New York City to provide QUIERE students with high-quality practicum experiences. The students will also be offered research-based professional development aimed at better serving children with disabilities from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. With the support of TC’s Offices of Teacher Education and School and Community Partnerships, QUIERE will learn from graduates in their first year of teaching, using the data to improve curriculum, pedagogy and other aspects of the program.