WOULD BE CLOWNS TRY OUT FOR THE PROS

By Rhonda Smith

Daily Cougar

Not only does the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus bring excitement to Houston each year, it also brings the opportunity for area clowns to audition for acceptance to The Greatest Show On Earth's very own highly competitive Clown College.

Today, the two units of the circus each have about 20 outrageously funny clowns that make up the heart and soul of the organization. Clowns quicken the tempo, raise the laughter and use their special magic to reach the hearts of any audience no matter what age.

Karen Bell, who has been mimicking and pranking for five years, was a dancer in San Francisco before running away with the circus. Her audition was successful, and within weeks, she sold her belongings and became a professional clown. "It's the kind of thing that if I had a chance to rationally think about it, I might not have done it," Bell said.

Today, she is happy with her spontaneous decision and loves the circus life. She said, "You have to have a heart" to be a clown.

Several nervous clowns showed up at the Summit arena floor to audition last Thursday in hopes of being admitted to the 1993 class of the Clown College.

"These clowns are the 'gods' of clowning, the best of the best," said first-time applicant Joe Rubert, a.k.a. "Straws", who has been a clown in Houston for three years. When asked how he got into clowning, Rubert said, "My mother was a clown." Rubert said he would love to work with Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus and believes these clowns are the world's greatest.

Head clown Dave Dedera, from Chicago, has spent five years with the circus and said one neat thing about the circus is the travel. "We live on a circus train. It's like you have a house, but every week, your back yard changes," Dedera explained.

He also points out one must have unique abilities in adjusting to surroundings and dealing with diverse people and cultures to easily travel with "The Greatest Show on Earth."

The circus has auditions in most of the cities where it performs. The applicants' auditions are videotaped and reviewed along with their applications by the director of the Clown College.

Experience is not required, but one must be 17 or over and show dedication, a good sense of balance and timing, improvisational ability, raw talent and endless amounts of energy. The application is long, detailed and a bit personal. It asks questions like, "When was the last time you cried?" and "Describe your worst phobia or fear."

The college only accepts 30 applicants out of the many thousands received per year to attend the once-a-year, two-month-long session in the fall, held at the circus' famed Winter Quarters in Venice, Fla. The 30 lucky clowns undergo intensive training from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. six days a week in acrobatics, slapstick, unicycling, pantomime, juggling, make-up application and costume design. Physical and mental abilities are also challenged while attending this one-of-a-kind, unusual and exciting institution.

"Clown college will change your life," Dedera said.

The institution is tuition-free, but requires a materials fee of $600. The materials, which students keep, include such things as make-up, costume, notebooks, juggling equipment, clown shoes and clown hair.

That's not a bad price, considering clown shoes run $300 a pair. Students pay for their meals and a room fee of $80 a week.

Only a few top graduates will be awarded a yearly contract with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus. The experience is not wasted for those who are not offered a contract. There are many other circuses, shows and theme parks that look highly upon graduates of the Clown College. Dedera said the college is a great opportunity for anyone in comedy show business.

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PHYSICAL PLANT TRIAL SET FOR NEXT MONTH

By Meagan McGovern

Daily Cougar

A discrimination lawsuit filed against the university by a former Physical Plant employee is set to be heard in court Sept. 8, over two years after the suit was originally filed.

As reported previously in The Daily Cougar, Dana King, a former Physical Plant plumber, filed a suit in May 1990 which contained allegations of criminal activity, including death threats and gross occupational harassment.

The lawsuit has been held up by paperwork over the summer, said Nancy Footer, UH's counsel for the case. "We've gotten into this holding pattern," she said.

The case was originally scheduled for a docket call in May, but had been put off. The trial, however, will "definitely" take place the week of Sept. 8. "It'll probably last all week," she said.

The suit names Paul Postel, manager of building maintenance; Thomas Wray, assistant director of the Physical Plant; Herbert Collier, executive director of the Physical Plant and Robert Scott, mechanical maintenance foreman, as defendants.

Physical Plant foreman James Mitchell was originally listed as a defendant in the suit, but has been dropped because the allegations against him happened too long ago to satisfy the statute of limitations.

King worked at UH from 1982 until he was fired for the second time on Sept. 25, 1990.

King alleges in his suit that in 1985, he was harassed and eventually fired for his participation in a UHPD investigation in which he positively identified a missing sewer machine found in Mitchell's possession.

The suit charges King was harassed by Postel and Mitchell because he refused to assign case numbers to property he said was stolen by the two men, including a boat trailer, a riding lawnmower and a tractor.

The suit states that King understood "case numbers" to be the numbers assigned to police reports after someone commits a crime. When King refused to comply, the suit charges, Mitchell told King "he was not playing" and that Postel is the "Prince of Darkness" and "you don't turn him down."

Another former Physical Plant plumber, Bruce Hamilton, told the Cougar in April that theft of state property was rampant among Physical Plant administrators and employees while he worked there, from 1985 to 1988.

Hamilton said Physical Plant inventories routinely showed "big" equipment missing, citing "riding lawnmowers and weedeaters" as two examples of such missing state property.

He said he and other employees used to refer to Postel as "teflon," meaning "nothing would stick to him."

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LSD MAKING LONG, STRANGE TRIP BACK

By Melissa Neeley

Daily Cougar

When many people think of LSD, they associate the drug with rock stars from the 1960s like the Beatles and the Doors, who claimed it had powers of expanding the mind.

Now, the psychedelic drug is said to be making a comeback in high schools and colleges around the United States because of the lasting high (up to 12 hours) it can give its user for an average of $5.

"Most of the young people are given the hits of LSD on blotter paper which has been soaked in a concentration of alcohol, LSD and other chemicals. They try it and like it and think that it's a relatively safe drug, so they keep coming back for more," said Bill Caudle, prevention manager of Cenikor, a treatment facility for chemical dependency.

Doses of LSD have amounts of strychnine, a chemical found in rat poison, which causes hallucinations if the doses are small, said Caudle, who used to take LSD before he enrolled himself in a rehabilitation program. By mixing the LSD with strychnine, the drug becomes cheaper to make since pure LSD is expensive, he said. The strychnine in LSD also causes nausea, dizziness and headaches, he said.

People can become hospitalized if they take too much of the drug. Convulsions and tremors resulting from too many hits may lead to an emergency room visit, he said. "LSD is a very risky drug; you never know what you're putting in your body (when you take it) since it is cut with so many different chemicals," he said.

Johnny Wagner, 20, began using LSD when he was 14 after smoking marijuana since age 7. He worries if his past LSD use will affect his ability to have children or if he will have problems with his nervous system when he gets older. Research has been done on the immediate effects of LSD, but the long-term effects are not yet clear to scientists, he said.

Wagner has been interviewed by Newsweek, Channel 11 and Channel 26 for his LSD and other drug use, he said.

"LSD can only be detected on a spinal tap because it builds up in the nervous system. That's why your back hurts a lot of the time when you use it. It also makes you break out because if you're going through a bad trip, you're under an incredible amount of stress," he said.

Wagner sold LSD and eventually became involved with ecstasy, he said. He would combine hits of both drugs to try to recapture the high he experienced when he first experimented with them, he said.

Part of his treatment at the prevention center is to teach young people the effects of drug use to prevent them from going through his own experiences, he said.

"The same hit of LSD may not affect one person, but it might kill another because we're not exactly the same. It's like Russian roulette because you never know if you will be having a good trip or a bad trip," he said.

Wagner recalls a night when he took 15 pills of ecstasy, then afterward, took several hits of LSD when he felt his high was coming down.

"I was yelling and crying and punching holes in the wall. I was convinced that someone was following me because all that acid threw me off," he said.

Although the media might be saying there is a resurgence of LSD use, Wagner sees things differently: "People aren't suddenly using LSD; they've been using it for years. It's just getting more coverage now," he said.

When Kathleen Peel began using LSD at age 15, she did it to escape her worries for eight hours at a time, she said. She would take LSD nearly every weekend to entertain herself since it heightened virtually all her sensory experiences, she said.

When the effects of the drug began to wear down, it would not be pleasurable at all, she said. "When you're coming down from LSD, it's like the worst experience in the world. You're fuzzy because you don't know if you're still tripping or out of it. You feel sick and until you sleep it off, you feel grimy because things feel like they're crawling on you," said Peel, who has been off drugs for three years.

A boyfriend of Peel's sister used to make the LSD solution in the bathtub, and she would help him combine the chemicals, she said. They would combine several chemicals together, including strychnine to cut the preparation cost to sell hits of acid at a bigger profit, she said.

Peel said she feels lucky she did not take LSD every day. "I've seen people who would take 20 hits of acid at a time; those people are gone because they can never become straight again. Now, they are more violent and have no capacity to learn. They're pretty much vegetables now," she said.

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PLATFORMS AFFECT STUDENTS

(CPS) -- So, what's in the Republican and Democratic political platforms for college students?

Jamie Harmon, a Harvard University junior, convention delegate and president of College Democrats, said the Democratic platform supports big issues that affect students.

"I think the main issues -- student loans, abortion and the job markets -- were pretty well emphasized. The Clinton student loan program is the most specific it's ever been in terms of the platform. It's a real breakthrough," Harmon said.

Clinton has proposed making aid available to anyone who wants to attend college, with the loans being repaid through community service or a percentage of future income.

Tony Zagotta, national chairman of College Republicans, said he believed young voters would be more interested in the greater economic opportunity offered by the Republican platform, as well as its promises to reduce government regulation and maintain strong defense and foreign policies.

"This generation is more distrustful of government than any generation in a long time," Zagotta said, adding, "Young people really identify with and support the foreign policy of these two presidents (Bush and Reagan)."

Because the environment is the top issue among college students, Terry Northrop, outreach director for College Democrats, said she believed Gore would be a tremendous asset to the Democrats.

The Tennessee senator, author of the book, "Earth in the Balance," is known as a strong advocate of the environment.

"They are comfortable relating to young people," said Adam Kreisel, a junior at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and coordinator for the College Democrats national voter registration program. "That's something you can't fake."

The ticket also strongly favors the pro-choice position on abortion, the Democrats noted.

Tajel Shah, chairman of the United States Student Association, said members of her organization have met with Clinton campaign officials to "let him know how we would like to see him address issues of higher education."

Clinton's staff was told that affordable higher education, abortion rights, the environment and race relations are the issues most important to college students, she said.

Regardless of the outcome, Zagotta summed up the election with a sober prediction: "This is going to be a closer race than anyone anticipated a year ago."

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PERSIAN GULF STILL A CURRENT TOPIC

By Ericka Schiche

Daily Cougar

Less than two years after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein signed his peace initiative, the United States stands poised to knock on his door.

Although President George Bush approved the initiation of amphibious exercises in Kuwait, some say this is an unnecessary move.

Mita Patel, a senior biology major, said she considers the exercise to be a "waste of time, money and effort."

Patel said the president, whose approval ratings reached percentages in the mid to high 80s at the height of the Allied-Iraqi War, may have initiated the action in an effort "to show everyone that we're the world power."

"I don't think they're (the American public) going for it," Patel said, referring to the widespread belief that President Bush ordered the exercises in an effort to bolster his sagging popularity.

The amphibious exercises, part of an an operation known as Eager Mace, began last week under the direction of Rear Admiral Raynor A.K. Taylor.

Pentagon Spokesman Lieutenant Commander Joe Gradisher said there are about 1,900 Navy and Marine Corps personnel participating in the exercises, in which troops go ashore (in Kuwait) via helicopter.

In the entire Persian Gulf region, there are 1,736 Army personnel, 1,259 serving the Air Force, 13,695 Navy personnel and 2,161 representing the Marines, Gradisher said. "Once they (the forces under Taylor's command) move to the exercise area, the forces will participate in live-fire exercises, practicing to shoot weapons, combat engineering operations, combat service support operations and command and control operations," he said.

The nation sat riveted as images of missiles and gunfire splashed across television screens on Jan. 16, 1991, the day after Iraq failed to meet the United States-imposed deadline for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. U.N. Resolution 687, which established a permanent cease-fire in the Gulf War, seemingly put an end to the hostilities.

"The United States has tried to cover its moves, which are hostile to humanity and the region's people, on the pretext that the decisions of the economic boycott of Iraq constitute a protest against Iraq's assistance to the people of Kuwait...," wrote Hussein in his peace initiative, signed Aug. 12, 1990.

"Later, the United States began to mass war fleets and aircraft squadrons, and to beat the drums of war against Iraq on the pretext of confronting Iraqi threats to Saudi Arabia," he said.

Since Hussein has not been fully cooperative with the United Nations, time will only tell if U.N. inspection teams are successful in their mission, said G. Hossein Razi, an associate political science professor at UH.

"If the purpose (of the amphibious exercises) is to defend Kuwait, I think it (U.S. involvement) is justified," Razi said. "If the purpose is to intervene in the internal affairs of Iraq, that might be more questionable."

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HOUSTON'S BLACK IN SPOTLIGHT

By Gram Gemoets

Daily Cougar

Tennessee Williams, the late, great Southern playwright, once said, "It's about time the American people saw a black on stage as something other than a maid or a yard man. It's time to see a black man sitting behind a desk or carrying a briefcase up the courthouse steps."

Williams would be pleased if he could view the current entertainment strides black people are taking in this nation. Films, plays and television sitcoms featuring black casts and situations are finding their way into mainstream success.

Houston in particular is now a thriving metropolis of African-American entertainment, featuring actors in terms of talent instead of typecasting and stereotypes.

Last Sunday, tickets went on sale for the Houston Broadway Series production of <I>Once On This Island<P>, a Hans Christian Anderson classic and the basis for the Disney film <I>The Little Mermaid<P>. This is the first NCNB Broadway production which employs and features an all-black cast and crew.

Direct from Broadway, where it garnered eight 1991 Tony Award nominations (including best musical and best direction), <I>Once On This Island<P> swirls onto the stage with a Caribbean flavor.

The exuberant and effervescent musical runs the gamut from high-stepping, swivel-hipped calypso routines to ecstatic ritual dances for the gods, to a fragile European waltz in an elegant hotel.

<I>Once On This Island<P> proves to all that Williams had the right idea when demanding an end to typecasting and stereotyping of black people. Twenty or 30 years ago, few producers would have suggested an all-black cast for such an old classic.

Graciela Daniele, who received two Tony nominations for her work as executive producer of the original Broadway production, said, "Our cast is black and beautiful but certainly aimed at entertaining everyone. But, if you feel blacks should move to the back of the bus, then this is not the play for you."

Sadly enough, however, some black artists did not live long enough to experience the full integration of their work into mainstream culture. One such performer is the late Louie "Satchmo" Armstrong.

However, the new and more culturally diverse Houston market has not ignored his musical contributions. In fact, a new musical, <I>Sweet Lo'Raine<P>, opened last week in tribute to the late musical genius.

Again, this production employs and features an all black cast and crew. Leading the cast is the great Jewel Brown, a world-traveled jazz vocalist, who sang with Armstrong for 10 years. Another cast member is Wayne De'Hart, who has performed in several films, including <I>Robocop<P> and <I>The Player<P>.

In a nutshell, <I>Sweet Lo'Raine<P> is a hot, sexy love story that is just sweet enough to play to general audiences. The music of "Satchmo" Armstrong provides a perfect vehicle for the fiery, romantic entanglement between Lo'Raine and the other characters.

Although he lived long enough to witness the cross-cultural integration of his acceptance, Sammy Davis Jr. still is deserving of some tribute, and the Houston market is quick to recognize this.

Coming August 15, the People's Workshop for the Visual and Performing Arts presents the 1992 Sammy Davis Awards in the Wortham Center. These awards have gained national attention since Davis' death, and now, such famed artists as Robert Gulliame and Ben Vereen are scheduled to appear.

To illustrate the cross-cultural acceptance of an event targeted at a predominantly black audience, the Exxon Corp., Walgreens and Aetna Life Insurance Co. are all proud sponsors.

Carlos Chapas Sr., spokesman for Walgreens headquarters in Houston, stated, "We are sponsoring this event solely on merit and not because it is an African-American event."

So, in the thriving entertainment metropolis of Houston, black people have finally taken their rightful place in the entertainment industry.

Note: Tickets to all of the mentioned events can be obtained from Ticket Master by calling 629-3700. <I>Sweet Lo'Raine<P> runs through early August, and <I>Once On This Island<P> runs August 25-30.

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CINDERELLA, PRINCE GRACEFUL; STEPSISTERS BEYOND HELP

By Manuel Esparza

Daily Cougar

Mid-August is usually when the summer doldrums strike. Not to worry, the Houston Ballet will provide the cure. Its highly acclaimed production of <I>Cinderella<P> has enough magic to remedy the blues.

The show follows the traditional story, featuring a graphic opening scene showing Cinderella's woes. One almost feels as if a tragedy is taking place.

The scenes in Cinderella's house start off dark, but quickly lighten up as the ballet progresses. The visual humor used with the two ungangly step-sisters take sibling rivalry to new limits.

The fun continues as the sisters are outfitted for the ball. The attempt to turn these two nags into something presentable for the prince's ball is quite clever. First comes the dress maker. Then comes the wig maker, who cannot hide his contempt. And last comes the dance master with the predictable, but still fun, results.

Cinderella, now on her own, dances and dreams she was at the ball. An old beggar woman comes in and with a puff and a bang reveals herself to be the fairy godmother.

The house is swept away and becomes the woods in front of the audience's eyes. Here, the dragonflies dance with the four seasons, in something out of <I>A Midsummer Night's Dream<P>.

The buzzing about of the dragonflies is in contrast to the stylish movements made by the seasons. The bi-ped horses are much more elegant than real ones and help to keep a surreal feeling about this whole scene.

At the ball, the Jester greets the guests and performs the most energetic routines in the ballet. His whirling and leaping seemed effortless.

By comparison, the prince/Cinderella dance duet was one more of grace and moving tableaus. Their slow, sweeping style kept the romance in the story. When the clock strikes midnight, the mood is broken, and the frenzied escape brings a sort of reality back to the starstruck heroine.

Back at the house, the stepsisters keep up the humor with their shoe trying. When Cinderella tries on the slipper, the house again changes into the woods. The courtship again evokes the true romantic in all of us. The deliberateness of the dance shows why this is a much sought-after production.

For as wonderfully as the dancers performed, the technical side was no less brilliant. Conducted by Ermanno Florio, the tight synchronization between dancer and orchestra was a marvel. The overtures were also very clear, and the stage production was incredible.

The transformation of the house into the woods was magic. Walls moved away as trees came down in an almost seamless melt. This was done with the curtain open as part of the show not once, but twice!

Translucent screens kept pulling out, and the audience was drawn deeper and deeper into the enchanted forest. The onstage transformation of the old beggar into the fairy godmother was quick and quite unexpected.

Final performances are this weekend. With student discounts available, there is no excuse to miss it.

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MASTER'S DEGREE GAINING POPULARITY

WASHINGTON (CPS) -- The number of master's degrees awarded each year in the United States has quadrupled since 1960, says a report by the American Council on Education.

Much of the recent growth, however, is due primarily to a 75 percent increase in the number of foreign students earning advanced degrees in this country in the 1980's, the report said.

Between 1960 and 1990, total master's degrees conferred annually by U.S. colleges and universities jumped from fewer than 75,000 to more than 320,000. During the 1980s, though, the number awarded to U.S. citizens actually fell by 2 percent, said the council report.

Although men earned the majority of master's degrees during the 1960s and 1970s, women achieved parity by 1986.

The proportion of master's degrees earned by women grew from 32 percent in 1960 to 53 percent in 1990, yet minorities increased their representation among master's recipients by only 1 percent between 1976 and 1989. The study also found that the number of applications to both master's and doctoral programs has continued to rise, increasing by 13 percent between 1988 and 1990.

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CAPTURE THE FLAG AT UH! NO SURRENDER TO COME HOME

By Karen Snelling

Daily Cougar

The flag has been captured, but there's been no surrender!

The UH flag, located beside the E. Cullen building facing the fountain, was stolen in the early morning hours of August 3. Sergeant Helia Durant III of UH police reported the flag stolen later that morning.

There are no suspects at this time, Lt. Brad Wigtil of UHPD said. Whoever took the flag was probably dared or challenged to do it over the weekend, he said.

Stealing the UH flag is a felony offense, and the person who took the flag could be charged with a third degree felony if caught, he said.

This penalty could include a fine of up to $10,000, a term of two to 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division, or a term of up to one year in a community correctional facility, he said.

Wigtil said the UH flag cost a little over $750.

"The UH police department is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the flags," he said, so the money to replace any flags on campus comes out of the UHPD budget.

This crime is not only a criminal offense, but also a waste because UH police have to spend time and money replacing a flag when they could be better serving the community, he said.

The UH police replaced the flag the same day it was reported stolen.

He mentioned that the Texas and American flags do not cost as much money because they are mass produced. However, these flags have not been stolen nearly as many times as the UH flag, he said, adding that UH has prosecuted people in the past for stealing flags.

Wigtil said that in the 10 years he has worked for UHPD, the UH flag has been stolen too many times.

"It's a shame," he said.

Anyone with information about the stolen flag should contact the UH police department at 743-0600.

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PREZ GETS FAILING GRADES

By Deborah Hensel

Daily Cougar

Prospective teachers in the UH College of Education give George Bush low grades for his performance as the "education president."

"I really don't see anything that he's done for education besides just talk about it," said Nancy O'Sullivan, who is working on a master's degree in elementary education.

"I think for him to call himself the 'education president,' a lot more needs to be done than he's done," said Mary Oestricher, a junior elementary education major. "We have not seen any more programs than were started during Reagan's term."

"The problem has not been Bush as much as the state of Texas. Education is more of a state-wide problem than a federal problem," said Lucy Sefcik, a post-baccalaureate student.

Professor Loye Hollis, director of alternative programs in the college of education, said he wouldn't nominate George Bush as the education president, but that his record may look better four years down the road.

"Trying to deal with an organization as complex as the school system is difficult at best and impossible at worst," Hollis said.

On July 23, three weeks before the Republican National Convention, Bush signed the Higher Education Reauthorization Bill, which encompasses several points:

*An increase in maximum Pell Grants to $3,700 and eligibility for students enrolling on a less than half-time basis

*First-time inclusion of academic achievement criteria for need-based student aid

*A number of default-prevention provisions, including requiring third-party guarantees from institutions that do not meet standards of financial responsibility and an elimination of the statute of limitations for collection of defaulted student loans

*The Bush administration's Alternative Certification proposal for teachers

The latter is a program that allows individuals with a bachelor's degree, a 2.5 GPA and a passing score on a basic skills test to take a "crash course" in teaching in order to make a career change.

While ACP may fill specialized vacancies in the school system on an emergency basis, education majors in traditional four-year programs might question the inequity of the program.

"When they first started, I was opposed to them. As time went on, I became less opposed to them," Hollis said.

"One of the reasons I objected to them -- at least as they are portrayed in Texas -- is that the rules that they have to play by are different than the rules that we have to play by. That discrepancy has put us at somewhat of a disadvantage, I think."

"The good thing about them is that they are training some teachers in some critical areas such as bilingual education, special education and English as a second language.

These are areas in which the universities in Texas have not been able to produce a sufficient number of teachers," he said.

"The legislation being what it is, the schools were under pressure to put bilingual teachers in. This was a quick way to do that," Hollis said.

"I don't know in the long run what will happen to the teachers who are certified in this method," he said.

"Take a person, for example, who is certified exclusively in special education, and who doesn't have a primary teaching certificate. If they chose to get out of special education, what exactly would happen to them?"

"That's part of the unevenness of the ground on which we're playing, because in order for us to certify a person as a special education teacher, we've got to, concurrently or prior to certification, have them certified as either an elementary, secondary or all-level teacher, " Hollis added.

"We are cooperating with Pasadena Independent School District, Region IV Education Service Center and to some degree, Houston Independent School District to provide course work for them," he said.

Another example of the unevenness is that ACP students receive college credit at the graduate level, whereas at UH, the 18 semester hours in the professional sequence must be at the undergraduate level.

"The good news is that through cooperating with them and providing course work, we are providing an incentive for them to continue in the master's program in education." Hollis

said.

Currently, UH is providing course work for 175 ACP interns in Region IV and has also participated in a proposal for recruiting 21 bilingual certification candidates from a private university in Guadalajara, Mexico, to intern in Region IV schools.

 

 

 

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