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Fifty Million Neighbors

08. March 2017

Features, Theme Articles,

  —Duran Perkins

Fifty million people live in the Northeast I-95 corridor—one out of every six Americans. Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston incubate economic might, urban poverty, old wealth, suburban sprawl, and some of the oldest and most influential educational institutions in the country.

As a teacher in the Philadelphia public schools, I am a part of the megalopolis. For those who have never experienced my city, it is difficult to express the size of the Philadelphia school district. The district educates 200,000 students. The yearly budget is measured in the low billions of dollars. Only about 100 American cities are larger than the student population of my school district and, according to Forbes, only 200 private U.S. companies have yearly revenues in excess of the yearly expenditures of my school district. I serve as a math and science teacher to students between the ages of 12 and 18.

How can a believer in Christ teach in this place? That is a question I have discussed with quite a few Christians over the years. My first response is to tell about a question I’ve gotten many times from my secular students: How can a science teacher believe in God?

Many of my students are disconnected completely from religion. They see Christian belief as an irrelevant and scary throwback to an era of witch burning and gullibility. To meet somebody who has not burned witches and who loves both science and God is remarkable to them. We in teaching ...

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