August 30, 1999 Vol. IV, No. 1

Times Mirror Awards CSUN $100,000 for Literacy Program

Effort Will be a Collaboration of Humanities College, Education College and Literacy Center

The Times Mirror Foundation has awarded Cal State Northridge $100,000 over two years to create a program to improve the literacy skills of future teachers working with children in kindergarten through third grade.

The initiative will create a special coursework concentration within CSUN's Liberal Studies Program, which helps prepare future elementary school teachers. The special courses will focus on improving the future teachers' literacy skills and on preparing them to better teach literacy to children age 9 and under.

³This is a wonderful opportunity for the university to develop a program that will ensure that our students, tomorrow's teachers, will have the skills to go out and meet the needs of an increasingly diverse community,² said Jorge Garcia, dean of the College of Humanities.

The overall goal of the program, called the Los Angeles Times Literacy Preparation Project, is to train students through an intensive curriculum that ties their own mastery of literacy subjects to critical literacy theories and teaching practices.

The special coursework will be developed jointly by faculty from the colleges of Humanities and Education and the Los Angeles Times Literacy Center at CSUN. The plan is to launch the special coursework as an option for CSUN students within two years. The two colleges and the center will administer the program.

A student practicum will be part of the project to help undergraduate and graduate students apply literacy theories to the classroom. The university also will organize a literacy seminar for emergency-credentialed teachers involving scholars, educators and parents.

Naomi Bishop, director of CSUN's Liberal Studies program and a coordinator of the Los Angeles Times Literacy Preparation Project, said faculty are excited about the opportunity.

³We've never dealt with the issues of literacy in training elementary teachers. It's a breakthrough for us to be able to bring up the subject and then link it with the idea of service learning [coursework that involves the community] and tie it all into the real world experiences of our own students,² Bishop said.

³The establishment of the Los Angeles Times Literacy Preparation Project means the university will train a significant group of these undergraduates in a literacy concentration before they enter the classroom as teachers,² Garcia added.

If the program proves effective, the media foundation has promised the university another $50,000 to continue the project for a third year.

The new program also will work with the College of Humanities' 275 Plus program, an initiative that seeks to help more high-promise students, those who have demonstrated the attributes to become effective teachers, achieve the 2.75 GPA requirement for admission into teacher credential programs and graduate schools.

University officials also hope the project will serve as a model for a potential five-year blended program for teacher training in the California State University system that has been advocated by CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed.

August 30, 1999

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