Contact: Jeff Hale, 277-2915 or
Michael Padilla, 277-1816

Jan. 24, 2001

UNM College of Education receives $65,000 grant for “Teacher Training for Inclusive Practices”

The University of New Mexico College of Education (COE) has received a $65,000 grant from the New Mexico State Department of Education to assist the state in widespread efforts to improve education and school participation for students with disabilities. 

The grant will help New Mexico comply with requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by helping teachers educate students in more inclusive environments.

The money will be devoted primarily to tuition —one or two classes per student paid for via scholarships within the COE— for students (primarily future K-12 classroom educators), taking courses in the College’s Special Education-Emphasis in Mental Retardation and Severe Disabilities department. In addition to student scholarships, selected school districts across New Mexico will get support with research and technical assistance. The grant is currently providing tuition assistance to approximately 55 students taking courses in the COE’s Special Education-Mental Retardation and Severe Disabilities Emphasis area. 

College of Education Dean Viola E. Florez said the grant is important because it displays the high caliber and strong motivation of the College’s faculty in the Special Education-Mental Retardation and Severe Disabilities Emphasis.

“This grant exemplifies the College’s commitment to providing quality educators in areas of high need across New Mexico, she said. “This is the fourth grant from public and private sources which the COE has received within the past few months that involves training and/or advanced professional development to assist education students and K-12 educators statewide in areas of high need across New Mexico.”

Florez said she is extremely pleased for the 55 or so COE students who will benefit directly from the scholarships this grant provides for. “Many of our students rely upon scholarship assistance of this type in order to be able to juggle school, work, and personal lives,” she said.

Ruth Luckasson, J.D., Regents Professor, Coordinator of Emphasis in Mental Retardation and Severe Disabilities within the COE, said she is pleased to be able to work with the state to increase the number of special education teachers who can support students with disabilities in their neighborhood schools.

“All children can learn and all children should be valued members of their school learning communities,” Luckasson said. “It is very important for families to be able to work with teachers and schools who welcome students with disabilities and are prepared to teach them in the least restrictive environment.”

Jennifer Ingham, first year COE graduate student and scholarship recipient from this grant, said she is grateful for the opportunity for the award.

“This tuition money has enabled me to work within my department, providing me with the best possible opportunity for out-of-class experiences,” Ingham said. “Along with the excellent departmental support received by the professors in the Mental Retardation and Severe Disabilities emphasis, the benefits have allowed me to continue to further my education.”

Bob Pasternack, State Director of Special Education for the New Mexico Department of Education said that inclusion is one of the most perplexing issues for students with disabilities and their families.  “This project will enhance the capacity of public schools in New Mexico to increase the number of students with disabilities being educated in inclusive settings,” he said.

“Based on research done in other states, this should improve results for all students, not just students with disabilities.”

COE anticipates that the grant will continue for 18 months, with the possibility of additional funding for the next academic year.

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