As part of the U.S. Department of Education's back-to-school bus tour, "Strong Start, Bright Future," Michael Yudin, acting assistant secretary with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, spent some time meeting with faculty and students at New Mexico State University's Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders Sept. 10.
Yudin joined in three panel discussions with faculty and students who are participating in programs funded by the U.S Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs. NMSU's Department of Special Education and Communications Disorders has received more than $4 million in grants for programs to prepare professionals skilled at working with multicultural and linguistically diverse clients.
"We are proud to partner with the U.S. Department of Education's special education office to deliver these important initiatives," said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers. "Through this collection of programs, we are able to generate vital research, provide enhanced training for our public school professionals and better serve the diverse needs of students across the state."
The three grant programs include:
• Special Education Leaders for a Diverse Society (SLEDS), more than $1.2 million, a five-year project to produce leadership personnel with a dual focus on research and teaching aimed at the needs of multicultural students with disabilities in public schools;
• New Mexico: Preparing Autism Spectrum Specialists (NM-PASS), $950,000, a four-year program to prepare educators to use evidence-based practice to improve outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse children with Autism Spectrum Disorders; and
• Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Speech-Language Services for All Language Learners & Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Speech-Language Services for All Language Learners in New Mexico (CLASS for ALL/CLASS for ALL-NM), two grants totaling more than $2 million, combined the two grants represent a 10-year project to train bilingual speech-language pathologists.
"These grants have had an enormous impact on our community and throughout the state," said Kathleen Cronin, NMSU assistant professor of special education and communication disorders and principal investigator on the SLEDS and NM-PASS grants. "We are honored that the assistant secretary wanted to hear more about the programs. It demonstrates the support we have, not only financially, but the value the federal government places on our projects."
Deborah Rhein, NMSU associate professor of special education and communication disorders and principal investigator for the CLASS for ALL grants, agreed.
"The impact of these grants goes beyond the students trained. For example, the 73 bilingual speech-pathologists trained under the CLASS for ALL grants will serve about 4,400 children in one year, 44,000 children in ten years," Rhein said. "These children will be seen by a practitioner with the highest qualifications for serving multi-lingual clients."
As the acting assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education, Yudin serves as the principal adviser to the secretary on matters related to the education of children and youth with disabilities, as well as employment and community living for youth and adults with disabilities.