Standard Four: Diversity
The Pacific College of Education strives to ensure that all teacher candidates are prepared to work with diverse student populations that are characteristic of the state and region. The Pacific University community is one of belonging, respect and recognition of individual worth, whose members share a joint commitment to goals and to one another. The College of Education’s faculty uniformly shares a strong commitment to issues of diversity and continually strives to work toward cultural competence.
Element Four: Experiences Working with Diverse Students in P-12 Schools
In an effort to audit how well we have been providing diverse field experiences for our candidates we are gathering data from all the schools in the counties in which we regularly place student teachers. This huge database includes data from five components of student diversity: ethnicity, socio-economic level based on free and reduced lunches, migrants, English-as-a-second language, and special needs. Using this information we built an even larger database (Field Placement Diversity Profile (pdf)) showing the placements of all of candidates for the past year and their placements (at least two for each). Using the Oregon averages as the norm, we established a continuum for each category showing how far each school ranged above or below the state averages. We color-coded the ranges (green being highest above average and red being the lowest) so that we could easily see whether an individual had at least one experience in a school with high levels of diversity in at least one category: 1) ethnic diversity, 2) Free/Reduced lunch, 3) migrant students, 4) ELL/ESL students, and 5) special education students. The data indicates that no students had a field placement in which all the diversity measures were in the lowest range.
Methodology classes pay particular attention to meeting the needs of second language students, exceptional learners, and culturally diverse students. Our teacher education students demonstrate the application of that knowledge in the work sample and in student teaching. The assessments for the work sample and for student teaching include sections on adapting and differentiating lessons for all students.
Though a small percentage of our students are economically able to take advantage, we offer a three-week student teaching opportunity in Tapalpa, Mexico where students increase their Spanish speaking ability while learning to teach in a different culture. Candidates in the traditional undergraduate program can add a Spanish minor of which this trip to Tapalpa is a component. These diverse experiences allow our candidates to become more competent in teaching the burgeoning Latino population in Oregon schools, especially in Washington County where the Forest Grove campus is located. We are exploring other overseas opportunities for our students where they could be immersed in cultural experiences that would enhance their ability to meet the needs of all learners. Currently, programs to another part of Mexico and Uganda are being explored. Also, we are looking at systematizing the way that we place our student teachers to ensure that they have at least one of their many field experiences that would meet the qualifications of a diverse placement.
One of our primary goals is to be known as the university where diverse candidates can successfully become teachers. As one effort toward this goal, the COE faculty and alumni established the Touch the Future program in 2001 to foster the development of highly qualified teachers of color. The program introduces middle and high school students of color to university life and to the profession of teaching by bringing them to campus one day a year. Over the years students from the Lane, Multnomah, Marion, and Washington county public schools have attended Touch the Future. We are actively raising endowments for scholarships to be able to help these students attend Pacific University. Approximately 200 students participated in Touch the Future events this year from 21 different schools, including students supported by the “I Have a Dream” foundation. Collaboration with districts near both Forest Grove and Eugene have established rich working relationships, especially among teachers and administrators of color.
In fulfilling its mission to “transform education through communities of learners” the College of Education actively reaches out to its surrounding communities. Through the Lane County Pathways to Teaching Program developed in November 2005, the Eugene campus has partnered with local school districts, colleges, and universities to establish a program whereby bilingual/bicultural candidates receive a college education and teacher preparation at little or no cost if they teach for at least three years in one of the cooperating districts upon graduation.
Candidates also have opportunities to increase their skills in working with diverse audiences by adding an ESOL endorsement, Special Education endorsement, TAG certificate, or Cultural Competency certificate.
The College of Education Admissions Director provides recruiting events at high schools and community colleges, usually accompanied by faculty members. Several faculty are actively involved with community organizations, such as Centro Latino and Educacion y Justicia Para la Raza. Faculty members have accompanied candidates to the Teachers of Color job fair and provided a support group. Faculty members are actively involved in state-wide in-service workshops on diversity and cross-cultural communication, computer-based study strategies, teaching reading in the content area, and approaches for working with the moderate/severe population in special education.