The National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency, has granted more than $1 million so far to Drexel University to “promote social justice teaching” among middle-school teachers who would be sent to staff “urban high-need” public and charter schools in Philadelphia. According to the grant abstract, the project will be managed by Drexel University and recruit 24 undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines (STEM) while they take minor degrees in education. They would be thus certified to teach in grades 4-8.
The teachers thus trained would be expected to stay in the public school system for at least five years. The grant abstract described one goal of the project:
“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.”
The students’ training would include clinical field experience in addition to mentoring for their first three years of teaching through Drexel’s Early Career Practitioner Institute. The project commenced in June and has spent $1,009,762 in the first three months of a five-year project.
Additional goals of the projectat the private university are clarified further on in the grant abstract:
“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, 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.”
It went on to say:
“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.”
The National Science Foundation is an independent agency of the federal government that distributes grants for scientific research at universities and colleges around the country. In 2017, it received an appropriation of $7.5 billion. The director if Dr. France A. Cordova, an astrophysicist appointed by Barack Obama in 2015.
Spero News reached out the White House and the NSF public relations staff for comment. No answer was provided by close of business.