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K-State Today

October 11, 2011

Achieving excellence: Two programs awarded for dedication to diverse education

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Two College of Education centers at Kansas State University have received large federal grants for their work surrounding diversity-related issues in education.

The Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy, or CIMA, received $2 million, which will be given as $400,000 annually for five years. The Midwest Equity Assistance Center, or MEAC, also received $2 million, which will be awarded as $680,000 over three years.

"Most impressively, these awards bring the total competitive funding received to $30 million for each of these centers," said Michael Holen, dean of the College of Education.

The Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy, under the direction of Socorro Herrera, professor of curriculum and instruction, has received more than $30 million in competitive funding during the last 12 years.

The center focuses on issues related to culture and language by offering a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs in the study of English as a second language. The center helps prepare graduates to leverage the assets of students from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds in order to promote their language development and academic achievement.

"The center is all about bringing everyone toward a common goal to support multilingual students and their families," Herrera said. "The state of Kansas is ahead in working with students of multiple cultures, and this funding will continue to put us ahead."

The most recent award comes from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of English Language Acquisition, and will help to fund Project KORE, which stands for Kansans Organized for Results-based and Effective Instruction. Herrera is the principal investigator of Project KORE, which is a collaboration with other organizations, including the University of Kansas, the Kansas State Department of Education and the Jones Institute for Educational Excellence at Emporia State University.

The goal of Project KORE is to use the existing network of educators implementing the Kansas Multi-Tiered Systems of Support to create a statewide system that also helps current educators work with students who are English language learners. The center will hold meetings with collaborators; prepare training materials to distribute to school districts; provide professional development with teachers, administrators and counselors; and perform community work with multilingual families.

"This project will provide the state of Kansas with a sustainable system of support for districts that are struggling to provide research-based professional development for their culturally and linguistically diverse students and families," Herrera said. "Collaboration among the various institutions of higher education will enable us to expand upon our individual Institution of Higher Education strengths and capacities, identify what can be implemented statewide and conduct groundbreaking research in the field of effective teaching that is inclusive of all students."

The center has endorsed more than 2,500 teachers and administrators in English as a second language. During the past 12 years, it has involved more than 38 faculty members who have come from more than 17 different countries.

"Kansas State University has the passion and commitment to do what is right for all students, including the culturally and linguistically diverse students," Herrera said. "This is a research-based project that will help further the 2025 vision."

That vision is for the university to become a top 50 public research university by 2025.

The Midwest Equity Assistance Center received its recent three-year award by winning a regional U.S. Department of Education competition that included other nonprofit organizations in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. The center has been winning the regional competition since 1978, which has earned the program more than $35 million throughout the years.

The money will help provide local and state agencies with technical assistance, professional development and information dissemination to public schools within the four-state region. The center focuses on issues related to race, gender or national origin.

"With this funding, school districts can keep requesting our help in these areas and we can continue to be able to help them," said Charles Rankin, executive director of the center and professor of educational leadership.

The center currently works with 1,463 schools and reaches more than 2.1 million students.

"As a member of the College of Education, the center has access to students who are preparing to become teachers," Rankin said. "These students are already exposed to our services, which they take with them when they go to work at schools across the area. As a result, our students will be highly sought after and they will be well-trained for educating others."