UWP receives funds for teacher development

July 8, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE - Public schools face difficult times amid budget constraints, and though grants can be a boon, schools often don't have funds to pay teachers for the time they put into grant applications. With new mandates requiring highly qualified teachers in our nation's classrooms, this year the University of Wisconsin-Platteville received funds to pay for cooperative planning with regional school districts.

The University received a $5,000 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) planning grant to fund a cooperative professional development project. Teachers from 10 regional school districts met with UWP educators in an April workshop to develop ways to improve their schools.

"We're helping these school districts help us - we're working together as partners - to come up with grant proposals that are due in October," said Tom Lo Guidice, Chairperson of the School of Education.

Elementary and middle school teachers from districts such as Boscobel, Richland Center, Platteville and Lancaster participated in the all-day planning session. In partnering with these school districts, UWP educators want to ensure regional schools are achieving their goals.

"School districts face increasing challenges that are related to finances and the need to find creative ways to meet the needs of high-risk students," Lo Guidice said.

Participants in the project have also made use of a computer-based forum to share ideas on topics such as teacher education and preparation.

The project is part of larger federal and statewide government efforts - specifically, the No Child Left Behind Act and New Wisconsin Promise - to ensure that all children are given a chance to succeed in public schools. Specific

goals include professional development, the reduction of classroom size, the improvement in performance of underachieving school districts on standardized tests and the closing of the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and their peers.

The federal government has appropriated $23.7 billion for public schools this year, the most ever, according to a U.S. Department of Education Web site (www.nclb.gov). Most of these funds will be used during the 2003-04 school year. Nationally, $2.9 billion is earmarked for Improving Teacher Quality grants.

Recently appointed UWP Director of the School of Education Alison Bunte heads the project. A team that included Bunte, Lo Guidice, Liberal Arts and Education Dean Mittie Nimocks and other UWP educators wrote the ESEA grant proposal.

Planning grants for education are nothing new at UWP, but the all-day workshop "is a new piece to build even greater partnerships between the University and the schools it serves," Lo Guidice said.

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