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Wilson discusses scholarship plan

Congresswoman Heather Wilson, R-N.M., told UNM students during a forum Monday that she supports recruitment and training of potential teachers through the use of scholarships.

Wilson spoke to a crowd of less than 50 at UNM's School of Education about a bill she plans to propose that would give student teachers $10,000 in exchange for a two-year teaching commitment.

According to a news release, the bill would give $260 million in federal funding for the first year of the program - enough for about 2,500 full-time scholarships nationwide, or about 250 per year for New Mexicans. Part-time students could apply for $5,000 scholarships.

Wilson said the scholarships would be based on merit, not financial need, to ensure the best students were chosen to be teachers. She said that those who receive the scholarship would have to be teachers, not administrators, although they would not have to teach in New Mexico or at public schools.

She said the scholarships would be retroactive and could help pay for lingering student loans.

UNM student Latayah York, a fourth grade student teacher, has worked full time to get through school. York said she would not apply for the scholarship because she is almost finished with school and never took out any loans.

She said Wilson did a poor job of addressing standardized testing during the forum.

Wilson said standardized testing is necessary to show whether students are learning. She said reading, writing, science, math and history should be included in the tests, though she added that she is not an expert on how they should be designed.

York said standardized tests are created by "older, white males."

"They don't structure them for culturally diverse areas," York said.

UNM student Susan Berry, who teaches eighth grade earth science at Grant Middle School, said she agrees with standardized testing, but would like to see something done with the results.

Berry supports Wilson's bill.

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"It's a good way of bringing new students into the teaching profession," she said.

Wilson said she supports bilingual education and added that local and parental decision-making on the subject is necessary to find the most effective methods.

Wilson said parents need to be supportive of their children's hopes for the future.

"The worst we can do for a child is have low expectations of what they can dream," Wilson said.

She said her own big dreams paid off.

"I was the first person in my family to go to college," Wilson said. "That was a big change."

She said that recipients will not have take tests to retain their scholarships.

"In order to continue to get the scholarship after the first year there's a provision that they have to be in good standing," Wilson said. "I think there is a requirement that there be an annual report from their school for the scholarship."

She said state review boards will decide who are the recipients, though she is not sure what the requirements will be.

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