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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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College of Education receives $500,000 for distance education

New Mexico State University's College of Education recently received $500,000 from the state Legislature to continue building distance education licensure programs for New Mexico teachers.

t was founded, New Mexico State University's College of Education has helped teachers receive standard teaching licenses. In the past few years, the college has begun working with school districts on the relatively new development of alternative licensing, said the college's dean Robert Moulton.

Alternative licensing is an option for teachers who have a bachelor's degree and life experience in their field. Moulton said these teachers are allowed a temporary license so they can be employed as a teacher, but then must complete 21 credit hours at a university to meet state licensure requirements. Student teaching is not required if the school district agrees to serve as their mentor.

Moulton said distance delivery is an effective way to reach many New Mexico teachers who cannot leave their community to continue their education. Courses are available at distance delivery sites and through Internet and interactive television. Distance delivery sites have traditionally been in Farmington, Carlsbad, Grants, Artesia and Alamogordo, although they may be different for this project, he said.

The one-time funds from the Legislature "will allow the project to grow more quickly than it would have otherwise," Moulton said.

Faculty and staff will work on developing curricula for the project and a new project director will interact with the schools and recruit teachers with substandard licenses. Beginning to actually work with teachers may start in the second half of the summer, Moulton said.

The college will focus the licensure and endorsement programs on special education and bilingual education because of the state's needs in these areas. Other needs, such as licenses for school administrators, elementary and secondary teachers, may also be addressed.

This project addresses the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which requires that every classroom nationwide must have a quality teacher, which it defines as a teacher who meets the requirements for state licensure and does not teach outside of the area for which they are licensed. Schools K-12 that do not comply with the law by the 2005-2006 school year may lose their federal funding.

In New Mexico, about 11 percent of teachers do not meet federal standards of quality because they have temporary or substandard licenses. Most New Mexico schools employ one or more teachers who are out of licensure compliance, and "these schools could well lose their federal financial support if corrective action isn't taken," Moulton said.

"With the economic condition in this state and the number of schools that rely on federal funding, we need to pay attention to this law," he said. "If teachers do not have their licenses by the 2005-2006 academic year or they are not enrolled in a university program such as ours, they will lose their jobs or their schools will lose their funding."

Moulton said many New Mexico teachers employed on substandard licenses already have some graduate work that can apply toward their licenses. Also, the courses taken to complete an alternative license may be applied toward a master's degree.

Although the money from the Legislature is for only one year, Moulton hopes the project will be self-sustaining because of additional support the college will receive from state formula funding from the increased enrollment.

Teachers interested in participating in New Mexico State's teacher licensure programs can contact Carolyn Dietrich, who will be in charge of most classroom teaching licenses except special education, at (505) 646-1256, Robert Rhodes, special education and communication disorders department head, at (505) 646-5972, Peter Maud, physical education, recreation and dance department head, at (505) 646-2215 or Luis Vazquez, counseling and educational psychology department head, at (505) 646-2121.