The U.S. Department of Education awarded California State University, Long Beach a $597,000 grant to assist paraeducators (teacher aides) in two local school districts in their pursuit of bachelor degrees, it was announced by President Robert C. Maxson.
The three-year grant is a partnership with the ABC and Bellflower unified school districts, in an effort to make earning a bachelor's degree an easier process for paraeducators in the districts. In addition to financial support, the program also offers paraeducators assistance through on-site classes and child-care services.
"With this grant we will work with the districts to prepare, over a three-year period, 45 paraeducators to get their bachelor's degree and to move toward certification as a teacher in special education or regular education," said Leonard Albright, a professor in CSULB's Department of Occupational Studies and director of this federal grant, which is now in its second year.
"We have been working with these school districts since 1994 when we began training their paraeducators. We had been involved in training paraprofessionals and
someone from ABC learned of our work and asked if we could create a program that would be responsive to any paraeducator in the school district."
The program began six years ago and is available through application to any paraeducator in the districts.
With the severe cutbacks in the schools in the early 90s and the increase in federal funds, many districts utilized those federal dollars to hire aides to assist full-time teachers.
"Many of those aides are in a district that represents the mix of the community so as a result many of the school districts are interested in training their own," said Albright. "These individuals know the community, they have children in these schools, so they are a natural."
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