Southeast Missouri State University
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FIPSE AWARDS $204,585 GRANT TO SOUTHEAST FOR CARE: CHILDREN AT RISK IN EDUCATION

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 13, 2002 -- The Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) in the U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $204,585 grant to Southeast Missouri State University's Department of Elementary, Early, and Special Education for CARE: Children at Risk in Education.

Under the grant, a consortium of six universities -- three in the United States and three in Europe - will aim to develop a curriculum for student teachers to enable them to work with children at risk of failing in school, said Dr. Jean Benton, project director and associate professor of elementary, early and special education at Southeast Missouri State University.

CARE activities will begin Oct. 1 and extend through Aug. 31, 2005. Seventy-six percent of the total cost of the program, $268,981, is funded by FIPSE, while the remaining 24 percent, $64,396 is funded by non-governmental sources.

Dr. Shirley Stennis-Williams, dean of the Southeast College of Education, praised the Southeast faculty who secured the grant.

"The FIPSE grants are among the most competitive and prestigious in the nation," she said. "It is a significant accomplishment for Southeast to be the lead institution for this international project."

Children at risk in the project are defined as those who may fail to develop their educational potential because of social, economic and linguistic disadvantage, combined with race, ethnicity or gender difference. They include the children of migrant laborers and those whose first language is not that of the school. The consortium aims to facilitate the development of approaches and strategies to teaching failing pupils and the development and dissemination of curricular materials. In total, 54 students will travel abroad, 27 from the United States and 27 from Europe.

Benton says the CARE Consortium addresses the shared concerns of U.S. and European educators regarding young people at risk of failing or underachieving educationally. To assist in maximizing the potential of these young people, the Consortium will develop a curriculum for teacher candidates that will enable them to work effectively with low-achieving children. Teacher candidates will engage in supervised teaching practice and will study and analyze these experiences via the Consortium's Web site managed discussion lists and Web crossing activities. The Consortium's Web site will publish and make available curricular materials and findings based on the project, which will foster best practices in the education of under-achieving children globally, Benton said.

CARE Consortium partners in the United States include Southeast Missouri State University, which is the lead institution; Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina; and the University of Central Florida. European partners are Stranmillis University College, Queens University in the United Kingdom, which is the lead European institution; Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen in The Netherlands; and the University of Leon, Spain. European partners are funded by the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Commission.

"There are several aspects of this grant that introduce exciting and important programmatic elements into our teacher education curriculum," Benton said. "While we have been sending student teachers abroad since 1986, this is the first time that our third year students will be able to engage in practicum experiences abroad, where they will be placed in Dutch, Northern Irish, and Spanish classrooms."

Since requirements governing teacher education certification in every country throughout the world are exacting and stringent regarding transfer credit, it is difficult to have exchange students from other countries in teacher education classrooms at Southeast, she added.

"But this program creates the opportunity for our students to interact with the visiting European students," Benton said. "This infuses a European viewpoint in our college classrooms and at our practicum sites and ensures that our Southeast students will develop a comparative context about issues of educating at-risk students."

A third element is the Consortium's Web site that will be developed to create a virtual classroom for the 54 students to participate in managed Web forums and Web crossing activities. The Web site also will be used to publish and make available information on "best practices" in the education of underachieving children, Benton said.

For more information about the grant, contact Dr. Jean Benton at (573) 651-2440 or jbenton@semo.edu. For further information about FIPSE, visit www.ed.gov/FIPSE

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