U.S. Senator Barack Obama today applauded the Senate's passage of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, which includes key provisions he offered to improve teacher training and support predominantly Black colleges.
In 2007, Obama introduced the Teaching Residency Program Act (S.1574), which would establish an innovative framework for prospective teachers to partner with accomplished mentor teachers for an academic year, receive master's level coursework, gain hands on classroom experience and earn teaching certification. Obama also introduced the Predominantly Black Institutions Act (S.1513) to create an official designation in higher education law and provide funding for institutions with large African American student populations, but that do not meet the criteria for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
"Higher education remains out of reach for far too many Americans in Illinois and across the country," said Senator Obama. "The Senate took an important step today by passing the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which will reduce college costs, reform student loans, and expand college opportunities for our veterans. I am also proud this bill includes provisions I offered to provide teachers with the preparation they need to serve children in high-needs schools and invest in a new generation of leaders by funding predominately Black institutions. To restore America's competitiveness and provide all students with opportunities, we must break down any barriers that are preventing them from pursuing a higher education - and passing this bill is a step in the right direction. I commend Chairman Kennedy and Senator Mikulski for their tireless efforts to move this bill through Congress."
Teacher Residency Programs: New approaches are needed for the effective preparation of teachers. The Higher Education Opportunity Act promotes innovative and effective teacher preparation programs for new teachers, including effective preparation, induction, and residency programs. It creates a path to develop high-quality teachers for high-need schools by encouraging partnerships between teacher preparation programs and high-need school districts. Senator Obama worked with colleagues to incorporate school-based Teaching Residency Programs which supports students pursuing master's degrees in education as they learn to teach in high-poverty K-12 schools alongside a mentor teacher, with strong mentoring and coaching for their first years of teaching. Residencies are partnerships that effectively prepare teachers for high-needs schools and establish career roles for established teachers, enabling excellent veteran teachers to take on roles as mentors and supervisors while still teaching.
Predominantly Black Institutions: Senator Obama worked with Congressman Danny Davis to establish grant programs for Predominantly Black Institutions - colleges that serve a growing number of urban and rural students whose family and financial situations limit their attendance at four-year colleges in other states. The Act also expands funding for graduate programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and, for the first time, colleges that serve large numbers of African American students