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
Last month, Whitman College students participated in a service project to teach the civil rights movement to students in the Walla Walla (Wash.) Public Schools. Here are insights from student teachers Allison Bolgiano, Noah Lerner and Shannon Morrisey.
When the Dallas Texas Public Schools District decided to show its fifth-graders Red Tails, an action-adventure film based on the Tuskegee pilots who formed the country’s first black aerial combat unit, it was a tremendous idea. The district felt students would be inspired by the story of these men who fought segregation, integrated the Army and were trained as combat pilots for the United States during WWII.
When Gary enrolled in her class, my friend Mary was warned that he had an attitude problem. But on his first day in her high school basic art class, she soon realized that Gary's main problem was the attitudes of certain other students.
We asked our 25 Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board members what advice they would offer to fellow educators about Black History Month. Each of these experienced educators offers a wealth of expertise, especially when it comes to bringing multicultural topics into the classroom.
For two years I taught preschool to a diverse group of energetic children. Every morning one boy would enter the classroom, throw down his stuff, run over to the dress-up corner and slip into a shimmery polyester wedding gown.
"When you went downtown, did you see a hobo?" The tone was mocking with a giggle at the end.
I cringed. Turning around, I saw one of my students: a young girl with freckles and a polka dot bow in her hair. She was a student who always had a smile to share, was the first to offer an extra pencil if anyone lacked and was always willing to help others. The callousness of her remark was out of character. I wondered if she was repeating something that someone else had said. Perhaps she just thought hobo was a funny word.
Twenty-eight teachers in my master’s level class silently moved en masse to the right side of the room to signify that they would teach the civil rights movement to their elementary students.
In fact, most considered it negligent to ignore this historic movement that brought about the end of segregation in our country.
In 1967 the Supreme Court ruling on Loving v. Virginia went a long way toward making marriage a right that more Americans could exercise. In Loving, the court decided that laws prohibiting African Americans and white Americans from marrying violated the Constitution. The Loving ruling said, among other things, “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.”