OSEP Opens up the Purse Strings
The U.S. Department of Education's office of special education programs has divided $2.4 million among 20 universities around the country to help those universities train highly qualified teachers of students with "high incidence" disabilities. Such disabilities include emotional disturbance, mental retardation and learning disabilities like dyslexia.
These grants are part of the Special Education Preservice Training Improvement Grants Program, and will cover the first year of what are expected to be five-year projects at the colleges.
I first started covering special education in November 2004, right after the reauthorization of IDEA. A few months later, I wrote an article about the deep concern many special educators felt about the highly qualified provisions of the law. Many teachers feared that it would be difficult to find instructors highly qualified both in special education and in a particular subject area.
It sounds like Education Secretary Margaret Spellings heard the same complaints, based on this statement released by the department: "We consistently hear from state, local and higher education officials that personnel preparation programs for special education teachers should be restructured or redesigned for graduates of these programs to meet the highly qualified teacher requirements in IDEA."
I'll be writing a little bit more about what these universities plan to do with their money for the Aug. 13 issue of Education Week.