The Loyola Marymount University (LMU) School of Education will open an English education research center, thanks to a $1 million donation from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

The Center for Equity and Excellence in English Learner Education and Research (CE4R) will specifically address the challenges immigrant students or the children of immigrants face in the classroom.

As increasing numbers of students in Southern California speak another language in the home, most often Spanish, the school systems are in need of more teachers trained to adapt their instructional methods to students with different levels of English language ability, noted a spokesman for the center.

“There is no existing center like it in the nation,” Shane Martin, dean of the School of Education. “This center will serve as a critical resource to resolve a local, statewide and national crisis and transform the lives of countless numbers of students who will not succeed in the current system without better educational opportunities.”

LMU believes that teachers prepared in appropriate and specialized instructional techniques can help students learn English and instruct them in other subject matters despite language limitations.

“Bank of America’s investment in the center is an illustration of the corporate leadership that is needed to ensure educational opportunities for all children,” said Leticia Aguilar, west region foundation executive and Los Angeles market president for Bank of America. “We hope this contribution will further create unique and positive change and opportunities for students and teachers alike.”

The LMU Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles will collaborate with the new center by conducting related research on leadership and policymaking in the Los Angeles education sector, Martin said.

The center’s primary goals are research and professional development focused on improving the education of immigrant students learning English as a second language.

The research agenda is expected to serve as a national model for the education of English learners.

Faculty scholars affiliated with the center will develop programs to collect data, design and disseminate research, and evaluate teacher and administrator training to decrease the minority student achievement gap.

In the area of professional development, the center will develop tools and procedures so that educators may be able to more effectively engage students for whom English is not a native language within the current legislated guidelines.

In addition to the funding of the center, the Bank of America grant includes scholarships for students in LMU’s master’s degree programs and doctoral fellowships.