“Don’t Vax Up”

The Real-Time Failure of Public STEM Education in the COVID-19 Era


  • Mark Wolfmeyer Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
  • John Lupinacci Washington State University




STEM education, pandemic, educational policy


Although many other factors come to bear on present issues in the contemporary world, vaccine hesitancy and refusal are also the direct result of poor STEM education. In this article we employ a sociological thought experiment methodology to articulate the shortcomings of STEM education and suggest pathways for much needed changes in solving future pandemics and other 21st century challenges. The problems we expose in STEM education include unequal access to high quality education via inter and intra school tracking and curricular issues where STEM does not integrate with other disciplines, like social studies, and fails to engage a critical perspective on STEM informed by advanced philosophies of science and epistemology. 

Author Biographies

Mark Wolfmeyer, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

Mark Wolfmeyer is chair of Secondary Education at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. He taught mathematics in secondary public schools before receiving his PhD in Urban Education from the Graduate Center, City University of New York. As a teacher educator at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, he prepares future mathematics teachers and teaches educational foundations. Dr. Wolfmeyer is the author of several publications including Mathematics Education: A Critical Introduction (Routledge, 2017). He regularly presents papers at international conferences including Mathematics Education and Society, American Educational Research Association and American Educational Studies Association.

John Lupinacci, Washington State University

John Lupinacci is an Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education at Washington State University. His work as an ecocritical scholar in teacher education, environmental education, and curriculum studies contributes to his research on teaching to address the conditions of the Anthropocene in K-12 schools and higher education. He is the co-author of the book EcoJustice Education: Toward Diverse, Democratic, and Sustainable Communities (Routledge, 2021) and co-host of the weekly national radio show Bust-Ed Pencils.






(Re)Considering STEM Education