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Vol 56 No. 17 | Dec. 2004
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History Professor at Cal State Long Beach Receives $35,807 Grant to Support Work with Local School Districts in Teaching World History

Donald Schwartz, a history professor at CSULB, has received a $35,807 grant from the University of California Office of the President’s (UCOP) No Child Left Behind Technical Assistance and Support Program to support his work with area school districts and their teachers in the teaching of world history over the next year.

“This grant is important because, unlike the $1.9 million in funding we have received in Teaching American History grants to support instruction in the Garden Grove and Compton unified school districts, it deals with world history,” Schwartz pointed out. “The way to improve student understanding of world history is to improve teacher understanding. This funding will help support both content and pedagogy.”

Francine Curtis, site director for the California History Social Science Project (CHSSP), worked with Schwartz and Ken Curtis, also a CSULB history professor, to obtain the UCOP grant.

“This is money sent to the states from the U.S. Department of Education,” she explained. “It goes to the universities to guarantee professional development. This current funding supports world history programming, which has suffered in recent budget crunches.

“It also reflects a vote of confidence in the California History Social Science Project, which is unusual and nationally noted in its ability to have scholars and teacher leaders work together,” she added. “The scholars do the content presentations to area educators and the teacher leaders do the classroom application. We’re very unusual in having these collaborative relationships.”

The CHSSP is a professional development provider focused on helping teachers and school districts develop standards-based history content and pedagogical applications to improve the achievement of all students. In recent years, the project has placed a special emphasis on training in embedding content area literacy into standards-based instruction.

“I think one reason for our recognition with this funding is that the CSULB History Department has been seen as a leader in K-16 collaboration,” Schwartz said. “President Maxson made this support a top priority when he joined the university and it has paid off. We have been recognized because of our history of collaboration with surrounding school districts and as one of those universities that has been successful in breaking down artificial walls that separate university faculty from classroom teachers.”

Teaching world history at the sixth-, seventh- and 10th-grade levels has suffered in recent years because of budget cuts, and both Schwartz and Curtis see the new funding as a step in the right direction.

“Teachers at the sixth-, seventh- and 10th-grade levels are not as well prepared to teach world history as they are to teach American history and this grant will help specifically in that area,” Schwartz stated.

Curtis has seen the grants make a difference. “I’ve seen the changes in the Long Beach Unified School District where I have taught,” she said. “Professional development works.”

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