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
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[...]
The Teaching Tolerance team had a confab earlier this week to plan ahead. Looking at a 2011 calendar, Sean Price, Teaching Tolerance’s managing editor, reminded me that the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War was fast approaching. Did we want to do something?
My first response? Frankly, no. As a former U.S. history teacher, I suspected that the next four years will present an unending opportunity mainly for military history buffs to strut their stuff. We would, I suggested to Sean, better serve teachers by focusing on the themes that spoke to racial justice.
The time had come.
It was Dec. 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on the Montgomery public bus. This act led to Parks’ arrest, ignited the Montgomery Bus Boycott and ushered in the new civil rights movement.
I really should be practicing Aura Lee right now—or Merrily We Roll Along.
I will soon be marching on stage, balancing my sheet music on the stand, wetting my reed, and playing the clarinet in front of parents, school board members, students, even the superintendent.
How exactly did I get myself into this mess?
It all started with a simple email.
Pull out your instruments, Teachers, and join our Beginning Band students in their October concert….