Beginning in 2008, Texas State will provide a year-long history institute that will help teachers to improve their knowledge of American history. NISD will give the teachers leadership training and coaching in the best ways to teach history, and the teachers will have the opportunity to attend a three-day summer institute at the Smithsonian Institution, to learn tools for teaching history to different types of learners. The program will also work to improve students’ ability to use critical thinking to analyze information, develop an understanding of historical debate and controversy, learn to evaluate and use primary sources, and improve their knowledge of issues and events in U.S. history, including the knowledge of geographic and political influences on history.
The grant, titled “Our Country ‘Tis of Thee: Northside ISD American History Collaborative,” is the fourth such grant that Texas State and NISD have received from the U.S. Department of Education supporting their partnership in teaching American history. Since 2003, grant support from the U.S. Department of Education has totaled $886,673. Whereas past teacher training has taken place on the Texas State campus, future training will take place on NISD campuses and in Washington, D.C. Under the grant, Texas State’s College of Education will provide program assessment.
NISD is the largest school system in South Texas and the fifth largest in Texas. Located in San Atnonio (primarily in Bexar County, also extending into Medina and Bandera Counties), the NISD covers 355 square miles and includes 98 schools, serving 81,811 students. One of the fastest growing urban areas of the U.S., it is also seeing an increase in the number of minorities and in the poverty rate. Some 75 of every 100 students in NISD are non-white, and 41 percent of NISD families live at or below the poverty level, an increase of 7 percent over the past decade.