A place for educators to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools
The Ad Council of America and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) launched an ad campaign, “Think Before You Speak.” The ads challenges people to consider how hurtful their language can be when the identity of someone is used as an insult.
Today, I opened my classroom door to a surprise. Diego was back! He put his arm around my shoulder and said, “It’s good to see you again.”
One of the best things about being a teacher is when students come back. Some of those homecomings are more significant than others. Just a 10th-grader, Diego wasn’t back to tell me about his college life, his career or kids. He was back to tell me that in juvenile hall, where he’d spent the last three weeks, he had found out he loved to write.
Thirty years ago, I heard the news that John Lennon had been shot. Every year since, the morning news on NPR reminds me again of that day.
I was a young, second-year teacher then, with four sections of grade nine “World Cultures” and one section of A.P. United States history. Mine was a Catholic school, and we’d had Monday, December 8 off because it was a holy day, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Abel Barrera Hernández has worked tirelessly to bring justice to some of Mexico’s most marginalized communities. For his work as founder and director of the Tlachinollan Center in southern Mexico, Hernández received an award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights last month.
That, coupled with the fact that Friday is Human Rights Day, got me thinking how I, as a teacher, must also fight for human rights.
Each year at this time, teachers are faced with a dilemma: How to balance the holidays to create the most inclusive environment?
As Hanukkah comes to a close and Christmas approaches, many teachers will decorate with candy canes, glittered Christmas trees and construction-papered dreidels.
But there are more holidays being celebrated this month.
Earlier this year, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed HB 2281 into law, making it an offense to teach courses at any grade level that promote resentment towards a race or class of people. The law further states that no classes may be designed for any ethnic group or promote ethnic solidarity. This despite the fact that, according to the U.S. Census, 30 percent of the state is made up of Latinos.
During the school year, I try to empower my students to make their own decisions and form their own opinions. I begin with a unit I call, “Question Authority.” Students investigate all kinds of authorities, including government, media, and history. It’s a powerful unit that leaves kids shocked (“Food labels can say fat-free even if there’s fat in the food?”), disappointed (“Those models in the magazine are all Photoshopped?”), and angry (“We imprisoned people just because of their ethnic heritage?”). They learn to develop a critical lens with which to question the reality they once blindly accepted.
Closing out our unit on the L.A. Riots, I asked my students to reflect on whether they thought a similar incident could happen in Oakland. Student opinion revealed an even split.
Here’s what a few of the optimists had to say[...]