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
It was meet-the-teacher night at my elementary school. The room was ready for a new class of second-graders. The rubric for grading paragraphs and stories was on the wall around the writing center. A scientific method poster hung on the wall in the science corner. Essential questions for numbers and operations were on the chalkboard in the math area. And a picture commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education was on the social studies wall. I was ready to help my children become successful students.
Kudos to the U.S. Department of Education for making such a strong case in this week's Dear Colleague Letter that bullying is a matter of civil rights.
The DOE rightly reframed the issue of bullying in schools as one of institutional responsibility—one that can get schools into serious legal trouble if ignored. Among other things, the letter says “some student misconduct that falls under a school’s anti-bullying policy also may trigger responsibilities under one or more of the federal antidiscrimination laws.”
On the rare occasion that I spend time with people who are not educators, it’s inevitable that someone will drop the word “retarded.” The “R-word” has been used colloquially for decades to describe and degrade anyone or anything out of the ordinary, inferior, or somehow slow. I can still hear the snickers from my own classmates back in 10th-grade health class when we read the words “fire retardant” in our textbook.
During the first week of school, we received a note from Margot’s parents. Margot was battling an eating disorder than had left her hospitalized for much of the summer. She had medical and counseling appointments scheduled several times a week, and she was very uncomfortable talking about or being around food.
I am ashamed to confess that I hadn’t noticed Margot. My classes are large, and she had chosen a seat near the back. She hadn’t spoken to me or anyone else. She was a small, quiet girl. Nothing about her stood out or drew attention.
I am still thinking about Sam Childs.
And I cannot wait to introduce him to my eighth-graders.
Sam is the 13-year-old narrator of Kekla Magoon’s novel The Rock and the River which this year won the John Steptoe New Talent Award, part of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards.
This will be the 10th year of participating in Mix It Up for Kirbyville Middle School. We have decided to hold a Mix It Up Day each quarter of the school year, rather than just once a year. We held our first one this school year on Friday, Sept. 17. Students picked a playing card from a deck of cards and sat at the corresponding table. I had placed several conversation starter questions at each table.
Yesterday, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly appeared on the television show The View. There, he got into a heated discussion about building a mosque in lower Manhattan near Ground Zero with Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar. They eventually walked off the set in disgust.
This morning on Fox & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade decided to weigh in on the matter, predictably calling Goldberg and Behar cowards. He then added, “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” Later, on his radio show, Kilmeade said that this was simply a “fact.”
"The Trouble with Tuck by Theodore Taylor,” I began to tell my class, “is an important book to me because it was one of the first that I read again and again.”
I held up the 100-page paperback book for my students to see. A couple looked as if they might laugh at me, showing off a kid’s book. But I continued to tell them how the main character, Helen, trained a guide dog to lead her first dog, Tuck, when he went blind. Despite my fear that talking about books would create opportunities for put downs, I soon heard rumblings through the classroom as students dropped names of their favorite books.