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Are Your Schools Entitled to Professional Development Funds They're Not Receiving?

If your school is like thousands of schools across the country, finding the money to fund professional development programs is a constant struggle. One way to alleviate that struggle is to make sure that your school district is receiving any funding that it is entitled to under federal professional development funding programs.

Both the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (IASA) and the Goals 2000: Educate America Act of 1994 authorize the funding of teacher education programs. Rather than imposing limited, specific categorical restrictions like previous laws, both of these acts allow educators to be flexible and creative in their use of this federal funding.

In particular, The Eisenhower Professional Development Program, authorized under the IASA, supports funding in all core curriculum subjects with an emphasis on math and science. To qualify, states must submit a plan outlining the goals of their professional development programs, timelines for achieving these goals, and how the programs will help students to meet student performance standards. If a state's plan is approved, the funds may be used for a wide-range of activities including creating peer review and instruction programs, building partnerships between schools and local universities, and implementing teacher use of technology for classroom instruction.

If local teachers submit an assessment of professional development needs, local education agencies are also entitled to funding under the Eisenhower Program. If the locality's plan is approved, funds are available to promote local teacher interaction, develop activities to insure that advances are incorporated into the curriculum, and provide resources to support new teachers.

Similar opportunities for educational development exist under the Goals 2000 Act. Under this act, states are allowed to offer sub-grants to localities. Localities must use these sub-grants to educate teachers in subjects that help students meet state content standards. Localities may also use these funds to reduce the costs for teachers who participate in professional development programs.

Finally, under the federal laws, teachers may receive training and technical assistance from one of 15 Regional Technical Assistance Centers. The main purpose of the centers is to assist schools develop curriculum that helps students achieve state educational standards.

To ensure that your school is receiving all the available professional development funding to which it's entitled, check with your local and state educational agency. Request information on all available funding programs and deadlines. Contact national educational associations like The National Foundation for the Improvement of Education and the Clinical Schools Clearinghouse. These organizations provide valuable information and resources to assist educators.

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Article by Cristal Metta-Gallagher
Education World®
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