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

Earning the Medal of Freedom

Sean Price - February 8, 2011

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor that the U.S. government awards to civilians. Presidents select a handful of people each year who have made significant contributions in national security, world peace, promoting culture or “other significant public or private endeavors.”

This year’s medals will be presented to 15 distinguished people on Tuesday, Feb. 15. Among the list of honorees are some names that are familiar here at Teaching Tolerance. 

Race Conversation Must Go Deeper

Maureen Costello - February 4, 2011

When I was in fifth grade and new to suburbia, my teacher introduced the concepts of racism, civil rights and fairness. And she began the task of helping 10-years olds—all of us white—learn how to talk about race in constructive ways.

I’d moved from a gritty urban neighborhood where whites, blacks and Puerto Ricans lived together rather warily. My parents maintained a chilly silence on the issue of race, although they forbade racial epithets; on the street I heard plenty. In this place, the black kids came mostly from the projects, the Puerto Ricans lived in apartments and the better-off among the white families might have an entire house. I knew that race divided.

100 Days of School, 100 Days of Bullying

Jill E. Thomas - February 4, 2011

When you say the word “bully” most people tend to think of the caricature of a bully. One of my students described the thinking of this stereotype perfectly. “They probably got on my nerves or I really just don’t like them, so I’ll try my best to make their life as miserable as possible.” 

But bullying takes many guises and is sometimes hard to identify.  That is worth thinking about today as the Safe Schools Action Network observes 100 Days of School/100 Days of Bullying. If we really want to stop bullying, we need to see it clearly in its various forms.

Knowing When to Advocate for a Student

Debra Solomon Baker - February 3, 2011

Today, I got a laptop. Not for me. For Aeesha.

Let me flash back to about six weeks ago. A team meeting took place around a table in the science classroom, completing the annual discussion about Aeesha’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  

In eighth grade, Aeesha still struggles with basic mathematics, with written expression skills and with decoding text. In many ways, she is an elementary school student trapped in a middle school student’s adolescent body. 

Finding Hope in Anoka-Hennepin

Sean Price - February 2, 2011

Last weekend, the Southern Poverty Law Center and two partners struck a legal agreement with the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota. Amid revolution in Egypt and fears of a monster snowstorm in the Midwest, this was hardly top-shelf news. But the agreement really was a big deal for LGBT students.

Looking Back at Civil Rights—and Looking Ahead

Lisa Ann Williamson - February 1, 2011

Like the more than 22,000 students who visit the Civil Rights Memorial Center each year, Brittney Johnson loved the fountain.

The 10-year-old Montgomery, Ala., native had never been to the memorial center, even though it’s just a few miles from her house. And like most visitors she was instantly drawn to the circular black granite fountain out in front. This unique piece of architecture, designed by Maya Lin, is engraved with the names of 40 civil rights martyrs. Next to it stands a wall of water that cascades transparently over Martin Luther King Jr.’s well-known paraphrase of Amos 5:24 -- We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Closing the Gossip Pipeline

Laura Sofen - January 31, 2011

Today somebody vomited in fourth-period study hall. Before the period had ended, kids in my study hall already knew about it. On my way to fifth-period class, every kid I passed in the crowded hallway was talking about it.

Webster’s dictionary defines gossip as “a report about the behavior of other people.” In my school, gossip is the pipeline through which all sorts of misinformation, lies, and occasional truths get exchanged.

Plan to Grade Parents Flunks Out

Lisa Ann Williamson - January 28, 2011

Florida representative Kelli Stargel has proposed a bill requiring the state’s teachers to grade parents of children aged kindergarten to third grade.

Stargel suggests parents be graded “satisfactory,” “unsatisfactory” or “needs improvement,” based on whether their children arrive at school well-rested, well-fed and on time with homework completed. Her bill also requires regular communication between parents and teachers. 

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