Maureen Costello

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Maureen Costello

Maureen Costello is the director of Teaching Tolerance. She previously directed several national education initiatives, including development of the 2010 Census in Schools program for Scholastic Inc. in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau. As director of Newsweek's education program, she worked to engage high school and college students with current issues. She began her career as a history teacher at Notre Dame Academy High School in Staten Island, N.Y., where she also served as academic dean. As a teacher, she worked with both the Advanced Placement Program and the New York State Regents on assessment-related projects. She is a graduate of the New School University and the New York University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.


Pages authored by Maureen Costello

Magazine Department
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Perspectives “The opposite of courage isn’t cowardice; it is conformity.” —Jim Hightower We’re working on a new film at Teaching Tolerance, one that tells the...
Perspectives “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” —NELSON MANDELA As this issue is prepped for publication, the TT team...
Perspectives “The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”—Sydney J. Harris  “See me.” As a high school A.P. history teacher, I...
Perspectives It’s August 21. This evening, a service at the Mount Airy Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., will begin a week of events observing the 50th...
Perspectives “In teaching, you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.” —Jacques Barzun This issue marks...
Perspectives "Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see." —Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood The production timeline for...
Perspectives “Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.” —TecumsehI write this a few days...
What’s in a Name? Among our Frequently Asked Questions, it is number one. Whether we’re on the road or here in Montgomery, the Teaching Tolerance staff can count on...
20 Years of Change A look at our cover will tell you that this is Issue 40 of Teaching Tolerance magazine. It’s published twice yearly, so that round number neatly...
Imagining the Lives of Others “As we tell stories about the lives of others, we learn how to imagine what another creature might feel in response to various events. At the same...
Stories from the Country I was named director of Teaching Tolerance back in January, and one of my first tasks was planning this issue focused on rural education. That might...
Blog post
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Rush into Battle You wouldn’t expect a health food store to carry Pringles.  Nor would you tune in to the Cartoon Network in search of episodes of Mad Men or...
A Conversation With Diane Ravitch Editor’s note: On May 7, 2014, the Southern Poverty Law Center released Public Schools in the Crosshairs, a report detailing how right-wing...
This is What Privilege Looks Like On Facebook a few days ago, Teaching Tolerance applauded the Houston Independent School District for ditching mascot names like “Rebels” and “...
Stop and Think As director of Teaching Tolerance, I’m used to being told that I’m “just so politically correct”—as if that’s a bad thing. Politically correct has...
Poster Power Labor Day, and the beginning of school, is less than a week past. So it should be no surprise that, as surely as fall leaves adorn classroom bulletin...
Protect Campus Diversity When Abigail Fisher was denied admission to the University of Texas, a long-held expectation that she would go there was shattered. Disappointed, she...
New Series Focuses on Contemporary Immigration Ours is a nation of immigrants.  So says virtually every textbook and every teacher about the history of the United States. And while it’s not...
When Bad Things Happen, Be a Helper For each issue of our Teaching Tolerance magazine, I write a "note from the director." In the last two notes I've grappled with the role educators...
Rosa Parks: Abused and Misused It’s bad enough that Rosa Parks’ decision in 1955 to stay put rather than give up her bus seat for a white man is so often seen as the reaction of a...
An Urgent Message from Teaching Tolerance Editor’s Note: Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello sent this message in an email to newsletter subscribers on Sunday after the killings...
After Election Day Let’s talk about voting.   Yesterday, we asked our 65,000 Facebook followers if they had held mock elections in their schools. We heard from one...
Nathan Bedford Forrest: No Hero for Selma Every city, town and hamlet has them: monuments commemorating pivotal events; memorials to heroes; parks, schools and public buildings named in honor...
Hooray for LGBT Allies After the Southern Poverty Law Center responded to a plea for help from students in Savannah, Tenn., we’re happy to report that students successfully...
We Honor Sikhs by Learning about Them We know little about the motives of the gunman who opened fire yesterday in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  Many of us will monitor the...
Diverse Schools Are Essential for the Nation’s Success The face of America is changing. In 40 years, the United States will become a minority-majority nation – a remarkable milestone for a country that...
Tear Down Boundaries, Register for ‘Mix It Up’ At a time when the nation’s schools are becoming more segregated, teachers and students across the country have an opportunity to show the rest of...
School Choice: It’s Not for Everyone This week is National School Choice Week—a well-orchestrated PR event to celebrate “school choice.” The week of nationwide events even kicked off...
Bringing 9/11 Into the Classroom—10 Years Later My son was a 16-year-old high school junior on 9/11/2001. He could see the twin towers burning a few miles across the harbor from his school in...
Alabama’s Immigration Law: The New Jim Crow Editors Note: Since the writing of this article, several provisions of H.B. 56, including the education provisions discussed below, have been...
End the Silence on LGBT Bullying New evidence of the bullying crisis in our schools appears daily in news reports and blogs. For some students, verbal harassment, cyber-ostracism and...
Meet Mike Hucksterbee It's not often that history teachers get to have a good laugh. But this week we enjoyed a rare moment of rolling-on-the-floor laughter.You see, we're...
Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Going to graduate school at New York University was often a literal walk through American history. A row of brownstones facing Washington Square...
Arts: The Secret to Making Schools Great? Last week, I had a chance to preview documentary films that showed how a strong arts program—and that could range from mariachi to Shakespeare to...
Taking History Out of Context There are three questions students of history should always ask: What’s the context?What’s the context?What’s the context? Yes, I know, it’s a play...
The Height of Unintended Bias The Southern Poverty Law Center held a Health Fair yesterday at which employees could get their blood pressure checked, visit with fitness experts...
Race Conversation Must Go Deeper 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...
Choosing The Right Words Words can shed light or generate heat. This week, in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, there...
Today’s Vocabulary Word is “Vitriol” A year ago, we introduced a new curriculum, Civil Discourse in the Classroom and Beyond, citing the “pressing need to change the tenor of public...
Denial Fails as an Effective Anti-Bullying Program The suicides of boys tormented by anti-gay harassment grabbed the public’s attention this fall. Those suicides are the tip of the iceberg. For every...
The Price of Pilgrimage For people who complain about a “war on Christmas,” here’s a reality check. If you’re Christian in the United States, you can generally practice your...
I Heard the News Today, Oh Boy Thirty years ago, I heard the news that John Lennon had been shot. Every year since, the morning news on NPR reminds me again of that day.  I...
What To Do About the Civil War? The Teaching Tolerance team had a confab earlier this week to plan ahead. Looking at a 2011 calendar, Sean Price, Teaching Tolerance’s managing...
How Not To Deal With Bullies The news today brought yet another tragic story of a teen suicide related to bullying.  The world lost a promising young man who had...
Bullying is a Civil Rights Issue 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...
Anti-Gay Bullying, Suicide and the Need for Empathy September has been a grim month.  Three boys—15-year old Billy Lucas in Indiana, and 13-year olds Asher Brown in Texas and Seth Walsh in...
Cut Your Chances of Suspension: Don’t be Black A new study proves what many already suspected: Your chances of getting suspended in middle school rise dramatically if you are black. The study...
Commemorate 9/11 by Confronting Islamophobia Last week, Teaching Tolerance ran a post from an assistant principal in Illinois. Lamenting the recent spate of anti-Islamic incidents and...
Focus on the Family Goes After LGBT Students For the last few days, an “educational analyst” for Focus on the Family has been getting a lot of press. She’s been suggesting that anti-bullying...
When the Bully is the Principal Everyone is worried—rightfully—about what seems to be a cross-country epidemic of bullying. The problem may be nationwide, but the solution has been...
How My Muslim Students Made Me a Better Person Among the baby pictures, reports on summer activities and other news reported by my many former students on Facebook, I saw this status update about...
“Above all, do no harm” Some things that happen in school are just not right. It’s not right for a six-year old boy to be handcuffed and shackled to a chair by an armed...
Helping Kids When Their Parents Won’t Active parents make a teacher’s job much easier. They check up on homework assignments, help with discipline and guarantee that education is valued...
Live Oak High School’s Teachable Moment When four students showed up at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, California, last week wearing American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo, their...
Getting Beyond the ‘Noble Savage’ Pretty much as soon as Europeans landed in the “New World” and encountered American Indians, they began creating stereotypes.  For Columbus,...
Twenty States Still Use the Paddle In 1964, my third-grade teacher relied mainly on an air of motherly authority to maintain control over her classroom of more than 50 8-year-olds. But...
Why Arizona Needs Ethnic Studies My mother’s birth certificate, dated 1915 and issued in Brooklyn, New York, gives her name as Maria. I knew her only as Mary, the name that appears...
Pop Quiz on School Segregation All questions are True/False. Question 1: The racial segregation of schools ended quickly after the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954....
Enduring Images Captured the Conscience of the Nation A powerful collection of Civil Rights-era photographs is on display now through August 2010 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. If you can’t...
‘What Will You Do After Graduation?’ This time of year, high school seniors around the country answer that question on a daily basis. Most can offer a ready—and truthful—answer. They're...
The Mississippi Misstep A school district in northern Mississippi has cancelled its high school prom rather than let a lesbian student wearing a tuxedo attend with her...
The Trouble with Women’s History Month The trouble with Women’s History Month—with all these special months—is that they encourage people to think that problems have been solved. The...
Noose on Campus It used to be thought that college was where you went to open your mind, explore ideas and, in the words of Robert Maynard Hutchins, former president...
Magazine Feature Story
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An Educator’s Guide to the Immigration Debate “With driver cards, illegal immigrants will take Oregon jobs.”— Op Ed, Oregonlive.com, January 2014 “Local protestors fast and pray for immigration...
The Human Face of Immigration "So,” Mindi Rappaport asks the eighth-graders in her English class, “What’s going on these days with immigration?  How do you feel about it?”...