Friday, January 04, 2019

Chalkbeat: How social justice and engineering will shape a new Detroit high school at Marygrove


Lori Higgins, Senior Reporter at Chalkbeat, covered the announcements made at a recent community meeting for students and families interested in the new school opening in Fall 2019 on the Marygrove campus. Her article, “How social justice and engineering will shape a new Detroit high school at Marygrove,” explores the aspects of the school that students and their families are considering, with a particular focus on the unique curricular offerings.

The school at Marygrove, which will open with ninth-graders only next fall, will be the newest addition to the Detroit school district’s cadre of schools that require an examination as part of the admissions process. A new grade will be added each year until the school covers grades 9-12. It is part of a unique “cradle to career” campus at Marygrove that eventually will also include an early childhood center and a K-8 school.

“If you’re interested in making a change in the world, and if you’re interested in design, this is the place for you,” Elizabeth Moje, dean of the university’s School of Education, told the crowd at the December meeting.

Nir Saar, former principal of Mumford Academy who will lead the new high school, explained the school’s theme this way: He said that engineering is about identifying complex problems and finding solutions to them. The social justice piece will have students “identifying the problems that have to do with a society we all live in that are unjust.”

The engineering focus is also crucial, Saar said, considering 2015 data that show women and minorities are grossly underrepresented in science and engineering jobs. “We’ll never have a society that is truly just and truly equitable until we have a representation of these people in all fields,” Saar said.

Alycia Meriweather, a deputy superintendent in the district, explained that one unique feature is the partnership with the University of Michigan, which will co-design the curriculum with the school district. The “strength of the Michigan brand,” she said, is important.

Moje added that experts from other university departments will contribute to curriculum design. Among them: the School of Education, College of Engineering, School of Information, Ross School of Business, College of Nursing and College of Public Health. “We don’t want business as usual. We want a really robust, rich curriculum,” she said. “We want to try to find the space where we can do something really innovative and exciting.”

In addition to its work with curriculum design, U-M experts will also be using the K-12 schools to develop a unique approach to training teachers that will be similar to the way teaching hospitals train doctors.

Elizabeth Birr Moje is George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Education and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor; Dean of the School of Education

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