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Focusing on the World

For many years American universities have been urged to become more involved with local school systems. One response to that plea has been the California International Studies Program, sponsored in part by Stanford University. It has been helping train teachers and provide curriculums about international issues in five areas, and now seeks state money to expand its program. The project deserves that support.

Similar to the California writing and mathematics projects at the University of California at Berkeley, the Stanford program draws on experts on the Stanford faculty to instruct teachers in global issues and to provide carefully balanced course materials. It seeks to give Californians a knowledge of the history, languages and traditions of other countries, especially in light of the economic and cultural effects that these countries may have on California.

The project focuses on “teachers teaching teachers"--specialists training teams of teachers who can return to their districts and pass on the information to colleagues. So far the project has collaborated with schools in the San Francisco Bay area, Marin County, San Diego, Sonoma and Turlock. For example, UC San Diego and San Diego State together work with San Diego schools to provide resources bearing on Latin American studies.

The sponsors, which also include the World Affairs Council of Northern California and Global Perspectives in Education, want to expand the program to as many as 12 projects. Heretofore the project has been largely privately financed, but now legislation (AB 2543) sponsored by Assemblyman Sam Farr (D-Carmel) seeks $500,000 from the state to help with the expansion and offset declining foundation support. The state money would be matched by about $600,000 from private sources.

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Backed by the California State World Trade Commission, the measure seems like a good investment in the future. It has been approved unanimously by the Assembly Education Committee, and deserves a favorable hearing when it comes before the Assembly Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.


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