The PVAMU Teacher Certification Program, housed in the university's Whitlowe R. Green College of Education, will facilitate the university's scholarship award process. Prairie View A&M University's program will focus on certification in the areas of Science, Mathematics and Special Education. The university plans to distribute funds for the program beginning summer 2008.
To apply for funds for assistance with teacher certification, teachers must be employed by a K-12 public school and currently teaching without certification. Scholarship winners must commit to teach for a minimum of three years in identified communities. Eligible teachers can access scholarship applications from the Tom Joyner Foundation website link, http://www.blackamericaweb.com/site.aspx/foundation/nea.
NEA will review all submitted applications and will refer award candidates to the certification program at the nearest HBCU. The award grant will provide financial and professional development assistance to aid teachers working under provisional certification. Assistance will be offered in the following areas: tuition, books and support in preparing to take state teacher certification examinations.
In 2005, the Tom Joyner Foundation distributed $700,000 to seed the scholarship program. Over the last three years, the partnership has provided hundreds of minority teachers with funding and technical support for workshops, coursework, materials, individual tutoring and examination fees to prepare them to pass state licensing examinations. Prairie View A&M University's grant award is the result of the Tom Joyner Foundation's Phase II, which has a goal is to assist upwards of 1,000 teachers in high-minority, urban and suburban school districts as they pursue full licensure.
Reg Weaver, president of the 3.2 million-member NEA, said joining forces with the Foundation has moved the "teacher testing gap" to the forefront of educational issues and is allowing the Tom Joyner Foundation, NEA and HBCUs such as PVAMU to work together to create programs and policies that will close that gap.
"As public schools in the U.S. become more ethnically diverse, the teacher population becomes less diverse," said Weaver. "For minorities, one of the greatest barriers to earning a teaching license is the requirement to pass a state teacher licensure test. Although more than 60 percent of the minority teachers in this country are prepared at HBCUs, until now, no national organizations have put a plan into action to deal with this issue. Fortunately, the Foundation had the foresight to address this critical need in teacher preparation."
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