Campus: CSU Long Beach -- October 22, 2001

Long Beach Unified School District, Cal State Long Beach Project Receives $800,000 Grant to Improve Teaching of American History

A joint project between the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) and the History Department at California State University, Long Beach has been awarded a three-year, $804,666 grant to improve the teaching of American history.

The grant was one of 60 awarded nationwide and one of seven received by school districts in California. In all, nearly $50 million was awarded to the winning programs.

The goal of the collaborative teaching project is to provide professional development and support for fifth-, eighth- and 11th-grad American history teachers at LBUSD.

Donald Schwartz, the CSULB history teacher who will coordinate the university's part of the grant, believes the key to he proposal's acceptance was its goal of bringing university professors into closer touch with K-12 teachers.

"Cal State Long Beach is a model for the nation when it comes to collaboration," Schwartz stated. "We conduct seminars for LBUSD teachers and work with them through National Faculty, we are a site for the California History Project, and we participate with them in seamless education. We have the experience, we have the resources and most importantly, we have the motivation."

In the program's first year, six LBUSD high school campuses will be matched with a CSULB faculty member who will work closely with an 11th-grade master teacher to plan lessons and team-teach once a week. The faculty member also will conduct a two-hour seminar each month with all U.S. history teachers at that school and, during the vacation, conduct a two-week summer institute.

In the second year, the project will expand to include eighth-grade teachers, and in the third year, fifth-grade teachers will be incorporated into it.

"This grant stipulates the target audience to be underachieving students," Schwartz said. "In June 2002, there will be district-wide 11th-grade exams for students in U.S. history. Then we will see how students do in their targeted classes compared with the general cohort. In the second year, we will do the same thing for the eighth grade and in the third year for the fifth."

Schwartz, who joined the CSULB History Department in 1987, taught at the high school level for many years in New York City and White Plains, NY, while teaching as an adjunct professor at such New York universities as the New School for Social Research and Pace University.

He believes the project is an important one, especially in view of recent events.

"The terrorist attacks of September 11th remind us that the United States is part of the world," Schwartz said. "We have to understand our history and the cultural experiences of other people. That's what makes this program so timely."


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