May 3, 1999 Vol. III, No. 15

Town Hall Meetings Scheduled on Teacher Preparation

University/Community Commission to Explore Changes
in CSUN Teacher Credential Programs

A commission created by Cal State Northridge-charged with producing significant and sustainable improvement in teacher education-is holding town hall meetings to seek input from educators, parents and others in the San Fernando Valley.

The evening sessions of the Commission on Excellence in Teacher Preparation-a partnership of university, education and community leaders appointed by CSUN President Blenda J. Wilson-will include presentations on innovative techniques and discussion of how to best prepare teachers.

CSUN has one of the largest teacher preparation programs in California and has committed to a university-wide effort to redesign its training for elementary, secondary and special education teachers. The commission is planning a yearlong process culminating with a report to the university's president.

The first session was held Tuesday, April 27, at the University Club and included a presentation on "Student Achievement in America" by Phyllis Hart, executive director of The Achievement Council in Los Angeles.

The two upcoming two-hour forums are scheduled from 6-8 p.m. as follows:

CSUN Provost Louanne Kennedy, a commission member, said the public meetings will seek input from public school teachers and administrators, parents and community leaders, university faculty, teachers union and social service agency representatives and school reform leaders.

"What we want to hear is, 'What do they want us to know about what needs to change in the public schools for their kids to be successful,' " said Kennedy, who will become CSUN's interim president when Wilson steps down in June to head an education foundation.

The commission, with about 28 members appointed in December from both on- and off-campus, is being co-chaired by Mary Kay Tetreault, interim dean of CSUN's College of Education, (above) and Maria A. Casillas, president of the Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project.

The commission and its yearlong review of the university's teacher preparation programs are an outgrowth of the Cal State University system's 1997 designation of CSUN as a charter college for its teacher preparation programs. CSUN is one of only two universities in the country with that status.

Charter status provides the opportunity for the university to make rapid changes in its teacher preparation programs in such areas as organizational structures, curricula, internal and external collaborations, course and student teaching scheduling, faculty assignments and budgeting.

Campus officials said the commission's expected work will include exploring how successful teacher educators have integrated technologically assisted instruction into their programs, how future teachers can integrate basic skills instruction into all content areas, what characteristics the role of parents in their children's education.

The yearlong review is being called CSUN's Charter Initiative. The university has contracted with The Achievement Council, a respected, independent school reform organization, to lead the design process. Phyllis Hart, executive director of The Achievement Council, is a member of the commission. Also, Barbara Bush of The Achievement Council is serving as the project coordinator for the university's Charter Initiative process.

-John Chandler

May 3, 1999

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