The University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC) convinced a cop to take a social justice approach in his career, based on their online programming.
UAGC featured this police officer, Michael Ander, in an article praising his commitment to social justice. As UAGC noted, Ander was unfamiliar with the concept of social justice until he began taking university classes. UAGC initially described social justice as equality and fairness for all in their article, but then described equity-oriented implementation.
Equity proposes disparate treatment in order to achieve purportedly equal outcomes, unlike equality which proposes equal treatment that may result in unequal outcomes. Ander echoed that difference when defining social justice.
“Social justice seeks to understand the why,” said Ander. “Why people don’t have the same opportunities and why some people need more humanity than others.”
As Britannica notes, “social justice” is comparative to an equity-oriented concept known as “distributive justice” — “the fair and equitable distribution of social, political, and economic benefits and burdens.”
Ander initially left community college in 2011 when he was accepted in the police academy. It wasn’t until recent years that he returned to finish his degree — not out of an unprompted desire to do so, but rather because he couldn’t advance any further in his career field without one. In order to rise above sergeant to become a lieutenant, Ander was required to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
UAGC gave Ander a full-ride scholarship in partnership with his former community college, Rio Salado College.
Ander received an online degree in UAGC’s Social and Criminal Justice program. As part of the program, students review the application of select social justice principles — equality, solidarity, and human rights — as well as apply knowledge of cultural sensitivity and diversity awareness to social and criminal justice.
One of the program chairs, Shari Schwartz, has tweeted in support of social justice policies such as gun control, Black Lives Matter, ending the death penalty, and allowing gender transitions for minors.
UAGC focuses heavily on expanding social justice perspectives. The university frequently hosts diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) events.
Forbes interviewed the UAGC chair of Forbes School of Business & Technology, Misty Resendez, about how social justice ideologies such as DEI are necessary components of education and leadership.
“My goal, my aspiration is to help educate leaders so they don’t fall to that dark side of leadership and to be aware, right, to help develop that self-awareness, that purpose-driven value leadership,” said Resendez.
An online social justice curriculum funded by Big Tech giants, EverFi, promised $15 gift cards to teachers who successfully got other teachers to start their students on one lesson.
According to an email obtained by the AZ Free News, Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) teachers were incentivized with $15 Amazon gift cards by an EverFi director of K-12 implementation. One of EverFi’s foremost contributors is Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos through his investment company, Bezos Expeditions.
“As a thank you, earn a $15 Amazon gift card for every teacher you refer who gets students started on one EVERFI lesson – just click the Invite a Teacher button (terms) I’m here for you – schedule a time with me to support you and/or your students,” read the email.
Curriculum obtained by AZ Free News showed that EverFi lesson plans included the histories of Juneteenth and affirmative action, assertion of systemic racism, and the promotion of equity instead of equality.
EverFi is advertised as free for K-12 teachers. The company reportedly offsets the cost through national and regional partners.
PUSD staffers confirmed that although the district has used EverFi for around a decade, educators use it sporadically. In an email obtained by AZ Free News, Executive Director of K-12 Curriculum & Professional Development Marla Hobbs claimed that few teachers utilize Everfi. She added that those who do use the resource use it on odd occasions.
EverFi was founded in 2008, with a focus on obtaining major corporate sponsors to fund their educational initiatives.
Now, over a decade later, they have accomplished just that. Some of their noteworthy contributors over the years include Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO; Evan Williams, founder of Twitter, Medium, and Blogger; and Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman.
Other big businesses also have their hands in Arizona’s public education. Companies like Boeing and Wells Fargo are part of the Arizona Educational Foundation Board, an initiative focused on bringing social justice to classrooms. The Arizona Educational Foundation has pushed a program called “Our World,” which aims to provide educator and business training and workshops on antiracism, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Much like EverFi, Our World is free of charge to Arizona schools.
Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.