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

A Call for Effective, Non-Violent Voices

Jill E. Thomas - December 1, 2010

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[...]

What To Do About the Civil War?

Maureen Costello - November 30, 2010

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.  

Lasting Lessons from the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Lisa Ann Williamson - November 29, 2010

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.

Tootin’ My Own Horn

Debra Solomon Baker - November 22, 2010

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….

Wearing Blue to Fight Bullies

Christopher Greenslate - November 19, 2010

As I sat down to eat with a couple of my colleagues I noticed something unusual for lunchtime: My classroom was slowly filling with students.

Assuming that my co-teacher knew what was going on, we continued to get out our food and looked forward to a few calm moments. But more than three-dozen students soon arrived. That’s when I discovered that I was about to sit in on our school’s first Gay-Straight Alliance meeting. 

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

Debra Solomon Baker - November 18, 2010

It is not easy for my students in suburban St. Louis to connect with the characters in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. The novel is packed with gruff men. Middle aged, mostly friendless, they are all struggling to eke out an income on a ranch somewhere in California.

The one glimmer of hope in Steinbeck’s classic emerges through the relationship between two men—George and Lennie. They are not relatives. Yet in a society where individualism is paramount, George does far more than merely put up with Lennie. He cares for this mentally challenged man, blankets him with a protective shield. Other characters turn from, threaten, and even belittle Lennie. Most are astounded by George’s choice to attend to someone who seems like such a burden.

Lessons Show Plight of Immigrants Who Feed Us

Lisa Ann Williamson - November 16, 2010

Alma wanted to put milk in her children’s bottles. In her native Mexico, she could only afford to fill them with coffee. Like many recent immigrants to the United States, Alma came here to spare her children such grinding poverty. “I’d like to live [in the United States] for my kids,” she says, “for them to study and not live the life I lived in Mexico, because it was very hard.”

Once here in the States, though, Alma could only find employment as a farmworker in Florida. She still lives in poverty as one of the country’s estimated 10.8 million undocumented immigrants. These laborers do the backbreaking work that puts billions of dollars of food on our plates.

Do You Teach About Social Justice? Share With Us!

Lisa Ann Williamson - November 15, 2010

For Judy Dodge Cummings, social justice teaching takes students through the lyrics of American folk songs. She uses antique tunes such as Hard Times at the Mill and Weave Room Blues to teach her Mauston, Wis., students about unfair and dangerous work conditions.

Meanwhile, in Bucksport, Maine, Carolyn Coe asks students to celebrate diversity through the creation of peace flags.

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