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Spring 2004
The Education Imperative
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8 Mile
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Spring 2004
Beyond Rhetoric
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Thus far, UCLA's approach is drawing sharp interest among future teachers, with applications for admission at a record high. Some 600 students applied for 150 available spots in the core program; previously, 200 to 250 applicants was the norm. But administrators say they're concerned that proposed state-funding reductions to recruitment and scholarship programs and simultaneous fee increases will dampen interest among potential teachers, and that other proposed budget cuts will make it more difficult to meet teacher-preparation demands.

"We're at full capacity right now, and without additional funding we cannot even contemplate growing," says Metcalfe. Given the state's budget crisis, she says, the program is more likely to shrink than expand, and it must rely heavily on gifts from private sources. In fact, many students in the program already benefit from the private support of numerous individuals and organizations. These include such benefactors as Robert and Marion Wilson, as well as the Flora Family Foundation, the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation, the Milken Family Foundation and the Ahmanson Foundation.

As for Vanessa Morris, she says teaching freshman biology and leading the science department at Locke High is by turns exhausting and exhilarating. "Even the smallest things you want to accomplish are difficult. It's physically and emotionally draining," she says. "Everything is a big battle."

During the tough times, Morris leans on colleagues and mentors for support, draws on the concepts of collaboration and community, and counts herself fortunate for the specialized training she received and the availability of ongoing support.

Says Morris: "The worst thing a teacher can do is be in isolation."

Senior media relations officer Phil Hampton has written about local government, politics and the environment for several California daily newspapers.

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