Feds Spend $1,009,762 Training 'Social Justice' Math Teachers

Goal of study is teaching STEM 'steeped in the context of social justice'

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September 18, 2018

The National Science Foundation is spending over $1 million to train two-dozen "social justice" math teachers in Philadelphia.

The Drexel University project will promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) high school curriculums that are "steeped in the context of social justice."

The project, which began this summer, is recruiting 24 Drexel students earning a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field, which they will train to teach in school districts in Philadelphia.

"The project will use recent scientific, mathematical, and educational knowledge to prepare and support the twenty-four pre-service teacher candidates with an emphasis on understanding the culture and life experiences of students in high-need schools," according to the grant for the study.

The stated goal of the study is to "promote social justice teaching."

"The project intends to promote social justice teaching, which emphasizes connecting science, mathematics, and engineering instruction to students' personal experiences and culture," the grant explains. "This connection can leverage the funds of knowledge that each student brings to learning."

The project has received $1,009,762 from taxpayers so far. Research will continue through May 2023.

The study also involves a mentorship program for the teaching candidates and learning mindfulness meditation so the teachers can develop "emotional intelligence."

"Inquiry-based instruction supports this approach as it opens communication among students by establishing a learning community of shared knowledge and experience," the grant states. "Seminars related to mindfulness and developing emotional intelligence will augment the Scholars' coursework. The latter will be scaffolded to develop the following behaviors: professionalism, growth mindset, commitment to serving all students well, and cultural competency."

The foundation of the math and science courses will be based on "understanding students' cultural communities as a foundation for classroom culture."

The program intends that the 24 teachers will stay in the Philadelphia school system teaching middle and high school students for at least five years.

The overall goal of the study is to prepare science and math teachers to be "steeped in the context of social justice."

"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, 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," the grant states.