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PCC scores big federal grant
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. Portland Community College scored a five-year, $745,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to provide training to paraprofessionals (educational assistants) in Portland Public Schools (PPS) who work with English language learners.On Aug. 20, the Deputy Secretary of Education, Gene Hancock (left in photo), awarded Algie Gatewood (Cascade Campus president) the check during a ceremony at the Portland Hilton Hotel. This project, "Portland Paraeducator Opportunity Program (PPOP)," is designed to fill critical shortages of qualified bilingual paraprofessionals to work with children who are English language learners. The total federal amount will finance 90 percent of the program. The other 10 percent will be funded by non-federal sources."This grant will help us work closely with teachers and students throughout the Portland Public Schools to educate English as a second language students," said Kate Dins, division dean of PCC’s business and government programs. "This grant will not only help PPS paraeducators to complete an associate’s degree, but the education they receive will improve the quality of education that students will receive. The largest barrier to current paraeducators completing coursework toward an associate’s degree is the cost, since many work part time and in fairly low-paying jobs. This grant will pay for most, if not all, of the coursework needed to complete a degree."The grant provides education, training and support services to improve the instructional practices of paraeducators and the academic achievement among English language learners in Portland Public Schools. The project will also help the Portland district meet some requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. This program builds on the college’s successful training program currently serving paraeducators in suburban and rural school districts in Washington County. During the five-year period, 100 bilingual paraeducators in Portland Public Schools will participate and 75 will obtain an associate’s degree.