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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

School of Education granted $1.2 million

Chico State now has the resources to produce more teachers specialized in working with disabled students following a federal grant award.

The School of Education recently received funding from the U.S. Department of Education to benefit students with disabilities. This five year, $1.2 million grant was given to train teachers in Butte County to work with the growing demographic of K-12 students with moderate to severe disabilities.

Tayla Kemper, a professor of education at Chico State, is heading the Northern California Collaboration for Low Incidence Personnel Preparation Grant, with the aim of providing student-teachers the credentials to work with children with disabilities.

“We found out about the grant at the end of July but we got the money on Oct. 1,” Kemper said, adding that since it was allocated prior to Oct 1., the funding will not be affected by the current shutdown of the federal government. “We get about $250,000 a year for five years.”

Of 61 applicants, 14 universities received the award, said Joleen Barnhill, the grant and contract analyst for the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. The school applied for the grant last year and, one of the deciding factors was a significant need for more teachers with disability training to be able to work in Northern California.

“The need for teachers is a major contribution to the grant being awarded, it’s quite clear that there is a problem in the area,” Barnhill said.

The program is mainly used for stipends for students, Kemper said.

“It will cover a credential program for individuals who want their moderate to severe disability teaching credential,” she said. “So it will fund their tuition, books, possibly gas.”

The issue facing Northern California is the growing amount of students with disabilities and the dwindling number of educators with the necessary qualifications to teach such children, Kemper said. The cases of mental disabilities are growing while teachers are decreasing.

“Butte County said we would need about 20 new teachers a year for ‘X’ amount of years to replace the teachers who are leaving as well as to meet the needs of this rising population of kids with autism,” Kemper said.

Chico State has enough funding to train 20 teachers a year, Kemper said.

“We’re trying to bring in as many teachers as possible, the grant funds everything, even though we get the money for one year if you chose to do it over two years we will still cover the costs,” she said.

This specific field of education is not very popular, especially in the Northern California, she said. Teachers with the proper credentials are leaving for other areas, further deepening the problem for disabled students.

“We’ve always had strong numbers, it’s hard to get interest for people to go into teaching this population,” she said. “One of the biggest pushes is to get local people to stay in their rural areas that will come to Chico to get their credentials but to go back because that’s an issue surrounding the problem.”

Hopefully this program will incentivize the career choice the credentials provide, she said.

The School of Education is looking to initiate the new resources as soon as possible, Kemper said.

“We’re hoping to have a group start in January so we’re recruiting now,” she said, adding that the program is now accepting applications for the spring term.


Nathan Lehmann can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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