Letters to the Editor, Opinions

Letter: University more concerned about reputation than impact

By
Monday, April 23, 2018

Last month, a letter signed by roughly 200 alums was delivered to Provost Richard Locke P’18 and President Christina Paxson P’19. We asked for clarity regarding their decision to suspend the University’s Elementary Master of Arts in Teaching program. Most significantly, the letter urged the University to be accountable for the impact this suspension will have on area children. In his response, Locke assured us that Brown remains committed to local schools.

The University’s latest play? Some heavy-handed publicity. Last week, Brown’s Instagram account published two posts (there is also a prominently-placed story at news.brown.edu) featuring undergrads who volunteer in Providence schools. The timing of this, in the wake of being called out about the Elementary MAT program’s suspension, is hilarious. The University’s intention — protecting its reputation — is not even remotely subtle. Finally, the content of this PR blitz is seriously, seriously reaching. The posts highlight volunteers who teach “chess, bingo, charades and arts and crafts.” That does not sound like significant pedagogical work, nor does it seem worthy of publicity.

Brown chose to ignore the positive influence of the program when they decided to do away with it. How ironic that now, suddenly, Brown is desperately attempting to highlight their involvement in elementary schools. The University just axed a program that, for 18 years, ran a free summer program for area children. SummerPrep, run entirely by the elementary track of the MAT program, served approximately 100 students each year. Students benefited from vocabulary enrichment, hands-on science experience, practice with mathematics content, and more. Each classroom was led by at least three adults, and they weren’t undergraduates interested in building their resumes. They were teachers.

The first line of one of the Instagram posts boasts, “Brown celebrates a thriving set of partnerships with Providence schools.” Unfortunately, the most significant partnership Brown has with Providence schools will be erased when the current Elementary MAT cohort graduates next month. Shame on you, Brown.

Margot Miller MAT’11