Dual-Enrollment Deserts: Empowering STEM Teachers in Inner-City California

California Telegraph
06 Sep 2022, 10 GMT+10


Dr. Jonathan Kenigson, FRSA (Mathematics)

When one thinks of early college credit in mathematics, one is rightly prone to speculate that such opportunities are available only to affluent students and families. Private schools and suburban public schools often have the financial resources and the credentialing mechanisms available to ensure that high-school students receive dual-enrollment (early college) credits. This procedure renders recipients more likely to obtain competitive college admission and scholarship offers. Moreover, many costs are defrayed by public funds derived from taxation on inner-city neighborhoods to cover dual-enrollment grants for the more privileged at the expense of the less-privileged.

In early 2021, it became starkly evident to me that STEM educators would be more prone than ever to succeed where resources were already most plentiful and highly credentialed teachers were most abundant. Very few phenomena illustrate stark socioeconomic and racial disparities like a plague. COVID wrought havoc on urban populations as the Bubonic Plague, albeit in a much milder and gentler form. In England during the Plague, those wealthy enough to take flight from the cities to rural manor houses could continue both life and education with private butlers and tutors. Those trapped in vermin-infested British cities were starved, malnourished, and prone to death and infection due to cramped and unsanitary living conditions. As is common in the cosmos, society and nature take the most from those who have the least. It is delusional or at least empirically unjustifiable to assert that the universe operates on any principle of decency, fairness or equity. Nature knows no law except subjugation.

In late 2021, I began seeking dual-enrollment credentialing partners for teachers in underprivileged areas of the U.S. I sought to create an institute that had the ability to offer continuing education credits to working mathematics educators who would accept the challenge of teaching the most needy and at-risk students. The philosophy is simple: Empower teachers to empower students. Stop buying expensive curriculum that only wealthy districts and private schools can afford. Offer direct instruction for seriously-minded scholars where the only fees involved are due to the issuing university for transcript purposes. The result of this effort is partnership with a leading California university with one of the most dynamic and forward-thinking teacher preparation programs in the Western USA.

Courses4Teachers partners with the University of the Pacific Department of Education for teacher credentialing and professional development. I have donated curriculum graduate professional development credits in Astrophysics, Pure Mathematics, Algebra, Calculus, and Probability. Each of these courses costs only $99 per teacher for the entire unit. This price-point is roughly 1200% lower than the typical price of mathematics professional development. Moreover, the quality of the curriculum is very high: I chose to employ a Quadrivium framework to show that educators in communities of all demographics are due the same high quality of instruction and development regardless of the ability to pay.

The aforementioned entities kindly named the resulting program the “Kenigson Institute for Teaching Classical Mathematics.” I am thankful for the name and gratefully accept it but didn’t suggest it. The approach I use is the oldest in the Western world and is hardly due to me. I hope that it helps teachers everywhere and gives STEM teachers and administrators a powerful tool to reduce inequity in California’s STEM dual-enrollment paradigm.

Mendicant Fellow, Fellow of Royal Society of Arts, Glasgow Philosophical Society. Fellow of Saint John, Athanasian Hall, Cambridge.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jonathan Kenigson

Mendicant Fellow, Fellow of Royal Society of Arts, Glasgow Philosophical Society. Fellow of Saint John, Athanasian Hall, Cambridge.