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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
"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.