Addressing HIV/AIDS in the Classroom
Educators encouraged to teach the ‘whole child’
By Phaedra BrothertonWASHINGTON
A 20-member panel of scholars, practitioners and teacher education experts came together last month to determine the core information K-12 educators need to know in order to address HIV/AIDS in their classrooms and, ultimately, to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and co-sponsored by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the “Build a Future Without AIDS” initiative is “designed to increase the comfort, confidence and abilities of pre-service teachers by establishing and expanding the knowledge base for preventing HIV/AIDS and other serious health problems,” says Mwangaza Michael-Bandele, AACTE associate director of research and the initiative’s project director.
David Imig, CEO and president of AACTE, says the initiative recognizes that teachers are naturally at the core of the nation’s information dissemination system.
In addition, AACTE says today’s teachers must be ready to meet the education and social needs of students in their classes who have AIDS or to help students cope with a parent who has AIDS. Teachers also must understand policies related to privacy, confidentiality and the means to protect themselves when handling blood spills or bodily fluids.
The panel commented upon and based their recommendations on three AACTE- commissioned papers: “Preparing Special, General and Health Educators to Teach Students with Disabilities,” by Wanda J. Blanchett, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Department of Exceptional Education; “AIDS and Human Dignity: A Pedagogical Challenge,” by Donaldo Macedo, University of Massachusetts, Boston; and “AIDS in the Classroom: Implications for Teacher Education Curriculum,” by Jerry Rosiek, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.
Commenting on the paper “AIDS in the Classroom,” Lisa Green, coordinator of instruction for the New Orleans School Board Office, says that in her 15 years as an educator in urban and inner-city schools she has found many of the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS are not addressed in the classroom.
“I agree that prevention of the spread of HIV and AIDS is a medical problem, but to imply that it is more of a medical than education problem causes an imbalance,” Green says. “Educators are encouraged to teach the ‘whole child.'”
The panel recommended that when preparing future teachers to address HIV/AIDS the following should be taken into consideration:
• The history of HIV/AIDS and the country’s response to the disease;
• The social and political factors of HIV/AIDS, with an emphasis on race and economics; and
• How to provide teacher-education students with the skills to function not only as teachers but also as agents of change.
Preparing teachers to tackle the issue of AIDS in the classroom requires that teacher preparation programs incorporate a framework to address a variety of issues, says Michael- Bandele.
“We see the topic as an exemplar of addressing the whole child, which is consistent with Bush’s notion of ‘leave no child behind,'” she says, adding that preparation also must provide teachers with an appreciation of various cultures, whether related to ethnicity or to disabilities.
The AACTE is developing a summary report of the two-day meeting, which will be posted on the organization’s Web site. The next step will be a second consensus panel to be held in the next two years, at which time, says Michael-Bandele, “we will put meat on the bones,” and look in detail at the issues raised and develop ways to carry out the curriculum. AACTE will publish a final document of the findings for teacher educators.
The consensus panel is the second of two cooperative agreements the CDC awarded to AACTE to explore the most effective methods to include HIV/AIDS prevention education into teacher education programs. The first agreement provided funding to identify available curriculum resources and to develop, package and disseminate learning resources to schools, colleges and departments of education.
AACTE and AAAS selected the members of the consensus panel on HIV/AIDS Education and Teacher Preparation for their expertise in a wide range of areas including social foundations, curriculum and instruction, pedagogy, multicultural education and health.
Some panel members included Green, Gwendolyn Middlebrooks, associate professor, Department of Education, Spelman College; Mose Yvonne Hooks, director, School of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Langston University; Winston Frederick, associate professor, Department of Medicine, Howard University Hospital; and Janeen Witty, director of teacher education, Benedict College.
AACTE is a national association of colleges and universities with undergraduate and graduate programs to prepare professional educators. The 760 AACTE member-institutions graduate approximately 90 percent of the nation’s new teachers and educators each year.
For more information, visit <www.aacte.org>.
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com