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The feds give $1 million for ‘social justice teaching’ in Philly math, science classes

That’s just what’s been spent so far on this five-year project

Look at the title of this National Science Foundation grant program: “Preparing Mathematics and Science Teachers for Middle School.”

Pretty innocuous, right? Teachers could definitely use help preparing to work with middle-schoolers. My wife formerly taught in middle schools in the District of Columbia, and it was no picnic.

The first half of the abstract is just as innocuous. It says the project will recruit 24 students in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines to minor in education and prepare them to teach middle school in “urban high-need” Philadelphia public and charter schools.

Drexel University (formerly home to this guy) will run the project, and the teachers it trains will be expected to stay in the system for at least five years. Their coursework will be supplemented with clinical field experience and they’ll get mentoring for their first three years of teaching through Drexel’s Early Career Practitioner Institute:

By creating and sustaining this community of teacher-learners, the project aims to create a cadre of highly qualified middle-grades mathematics and science teachers for high-need urban schools.

Then you get to the second half of the abstract, and the purpose of this grant – for which taxpayers have spent $1,009,762 so far, in the first three months of a five-year project – becomes clear:

The project intends to promote social justice teaching, which emphasizes connecting science, mathematics, and engineering instruction to students’ personal experiences and culture. … Seminars related to mindfulness and developing emotional intelligence will augment the Scholars’ coursework. … Essential skills that will be developed through the coursework include understanding students’ cultural communities as a foundation for classroom culture … The long-term and far-reaching benefits to society of this project are the potential to document and share sustainable approaches, steeped in the context of social-justice [sic], for recruiting and preparing STEM majors to provide success in learning mathematics and science for all middle-grades students in a high-need school district.

“Steeped in the context of social-justice.” To teach kids math and science?

Having a better understanding of the culture these kids come from is laudable. But this grant seems intended to preach politics to kids who are supposed to be learning objective information.

It should raise questions for taxpayers as to whether this “social justice” emphasis will help these adolescents leave their “high-need” situation and become skilled workers who may then return to their communities to help them.

They should also question the results promoted by the PR effort that will emanate from this project:

It is anticipated that the documentation of project activities and identification of learnings from project implementation will be disseminated to the education community through conference presentations, a project website, and professional publications.

Read the grant.

h/t The Washington Free Beacon

IMAGE: Dangerous Minds

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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