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Grant to Focus on Multicultural Issues in Special Education

January 29, 1999 -- The University of Virginia's Curry School of Education has received a federal grant to help meet a national shortage of teachers and administrators knowledgeable about minority issues in special education.

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the Curry School $674,542 to create a Multicultural Special Education Leadership Training Project. The grant will allow U.Va. doctoral students to gain an unusual understanding of ethnic and cultural issues in special education through academic work with both U.Va. faculty and those at historically black universities in the region.

Throughout the United States few minority students are pursuing doctorate degrees in education, national data shows, and the U.S. is facing a shortage of leaders knowledgeable about multicultural issues in special education.

"Remedial special education services are provided disproportionately to youths of color. At the same time, gifted programs are provided to a disproportionately high number of white children. It is critical that universities graduate future teachers and

administrators who are knowledgeable about the cultural and educational ramifications of such findings and work to address them," said education professor James Kauffman, who is project director and co-principal investigator.

The three-year grant, which was awarded this fall, will allow U.Va. faculty to develop courses, symposia and internships that focus on minority issues in special education with faculty at historically black colleges and universities such as Virginia Union University, Hampton University, Norfolk State University, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Visiting faculty from some of these schools will teach at least one seminar session at U.Va. each semester, and Curry faculty will be occasional guest instructors at the participating universities. In addition, each of the participating institutions, including U.Va., will hold colloquia devising specific procedures for multicultural special education.

In their final year of doctoral study students in the training project will serve as interns and teach courses at one of the historically black universities. Faculty from the historically black institutions will be invited to serve on the students' doctoral committees.

"A feature that appealed to the people reviewing our grant proposal was the exchange of work between U.Va. and the historically black institutions," Kauffman said.

Faculty and students will also work closely with U.Va.'s Center of Minority Research in Special Education and the University of New Mexico's New Alliance Project, a program that promotes educational services for minorities.

The grant will support six students pursuing doctorate degrees. Students selected for the training must, in addition to meeting normal admission requirements, demonstrate a strong interest in multicultural issues in teacher education, Kauffman said.

To date four students have been selected and have begun their first year of study.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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