BuzzFeed: "It’s way easier to oppress a demographic when they are forgotten and/or isolated — and both are applicable to the disability community."
District Administration: "Now provided across 12 states, Stanford’s 'Civic Online Reasoning,' which includes assessments to judge the credibility of information, consists of 56 news-literacy tasks to identify misinformation and fake articles on the internet."
National Public Radio: "'There's never been a moment in the history of this country where black people who have been isolated from white people have gotten the same resources. ... They often don't have the same level of instruction. They often don't have strong principals. They often don't have the same technology.'"
Teen Vogue: "Books written for us, by us, can help eliminate misconceptions and stereotypes in stories. On the flip side, books written for the marginalized, by the marginalized, can add a certain something that someone on the outside may not be able to capture, whether it be a dialect, a personal incident, or a cultural reference."
Usable Knowledge: "Professor of Education Meira Levinson and a team of Harvard graduate students have developed three case studies ... exploring questions about whether and how to accommodate divisive but politically endorsed speech, how to handle student protests, and how to manage controversy and critical thinking in your classroom."
VICE News: "As charters attracted families with promises of smaller class sizes, increased technology, and minimized bureaucracy, Detroit’s traditional public schools lost students and hemorrhaged funds."
Voices in Urban Education: "What the election result highlighted for me, however, is that we definitely need to create broader senses of coalition among many different peoples, whether they be Native American people at Standing Rock, or the Black Lives Matter Movement or our Dreamers – anyone who has been disenfranchised."
If you come across a current article or blog you think other educators should read, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org , and put “What We’re Reading This Week” in the subject line.
“Knock, knock. Who’s there? 2044. 2044 who? Vote for me in 2044!” Not many 9-year-olds are aiming for the presidency, but Mari Copeny was already campaigning during a Dr. Martin Luther King Day program in her hometown of Flint, Michigan.
You might already know Mari as “Little Miss Flint,” who gained fame when she wrote a letter to President Obama about the water catastrophe in her town. This Saturday, Mari will continue her advocacy work by standing up for women’s rights as a Youth Ambassador for the Women’s March on Washington.
The Women’s March on Washington began as the personal call to action made by a woman in Hawaiʻi via her Facebook page the day after the election. But over the last two months, the event has evolved under the leadership of a team of diverse and seasoned social justice activists. More than 208,000 people have pledged to march on the event’s Facebook page. Another 255,000 have indicated that they’re interested in attending.
Among those marching will be Mari and 30 other inspirational and diverse young people—plus a band—who have been named the Women’s March on Washington’s Youth Ambassadors and Outreach Ambassadors. Each of these ambassadors has committed to upholding the march’s seven Youth Initiative principals:
- Fight against forces of evil, not persons doing evil.
- Our diversities are the strength of this country.
- Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
- Community is the framework for the future. Engagement is crucial.
- Honor the champions of human rights, dignity and justice who have come before us.
- Honor our community by first honoring and respecting ourselves.
- We have the power to change the future.
The organizers of the Women’s March say they launched the Youth Ambassador program to “provide a platform of civic engagement where our youth can make their voices heard.” That shouldn’t be a problem, given that these kids were doing a great job speaking out against injustice before the Women’s March was even conceived.
Ava Santos-Volpe, a 12-year-old from Chicago, says she’s always been inspired by her moms to make a difference in the world. Prior to being named a Women’s March Youth Ambassador, Ava was helping to support youth experiencing homelessness in her city.
During a trip to Florida, she was excited by parking meters she saw around the city that allowed people to make donations to support those without homes. Back in Chicago, Ava partnered with a local LGBTQIA organization, Pride Action Tank, to connect artists with youth experiencing homelessness. Together, they gave retired parking meters creative makeovers, turning them into fundraising hubs.
Ava and Mari aren’t the only youth ambassadors with histories of activism. Cora Haworth, 13, is an experienced social justice advocate as well. Her mother, Tricia Fitzgerald, told DNAinfo that Cora has participated in protests “since she was a baby.” DNAinfo also reports that Cora has assisted the March of Dimes and the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, and that she marched during the Chicago teachers’ strike in 2012.
Each Youth Ambassador brings a different set of experiences and skills to the march. “[They] are rock-star youth who are inspiring their communities through advocacy and activism,” says the Women’s March website. “They are not waiting to grow up to ‘be the change.’ They are the change and deserve a place at the table.”
These young activists might inspire your students to become change agents (or reinvigorate or affirm their activism) and spur classroom conversations about young peoples’ participation in the march for civil rights, past and present. Talk with your class about the seven Youth Initiative principals of the Women’s March. Ask them what issues they would they stand up for—and why. For classroom resources on civic engagement and student activism, see the Teaching Tolerance lessons “Discovering My Identity” and “Organizing to End Bullying”; the Youth United! video series; and the “Do Something” tasks in Perspectives for a Diverse America.
Pettway is a poet and advocacy journalist. She currently lives and
writes in Bogotá, Colombia.
January 17, 2017
Dear President-elect Trump,
As the recipients of the 2016 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching, we are writing with urgent concern for our nation’s students. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s recent report After Election Day: The Impact of the 2016 Presidential Election on Our Nation’s Schools, more than 2,500 of our fellow educators reported acts of hatred and bigotry against children that can be directly traced to your campaign and election. As educators who adhere to the values of equity, social justice, freedom, inclusion and dignity for all, we call you to action: Be a president for all Americans. We also invite you to engage in a productive dialogue with our nation’s educators about how we can move forward to support all of our children.
We write to you as American citizens and educators. These dual identities cannot be divorced, as the work we do as educators affects the development and formation of the citizenry of our future generations. Unfortunately, as reported in the After Election Day report, thousands of teachers are alarmed by the fact their students are saying things like, “Screw women’s rights,” “Fag-lover liberal,” “Build the wall, lock her up” and “‘Are they going to do anything to me? Am I safe?” Teachers are struggling because these experiences don’t fit our nation’s narrative as a place where there is “liberty and justice for all.”
As our president, you must model a commitment to justice for all people. To stand idly by as so many students attack those who are different from them flies in the face of our values as educators; inaction condones such attacks. Laws and policies that you have promised to support, such as building a wall between the United States and Mexico and requiring Muslims to register, are nothing short of institutionalized discrimination and oppression. No one in this country—especially children—should fear that their family will be torn apart at the hands of the President of the United States. You can alleviate the fears of our students by supporting legislation that is grounded in equity and justice for all Americans and by surrounding yourself with individuals who believe a diverse America is a great America. Listening to multiple perspectives is key to being a president for all Americans. As one student put it, “Think about the power you’ve been given, then ask yourself, ‘Is what I’m doing right?’”
As educators, we will continue our work toward cultivating kind and intellectual future citizens of this great country. We will do everything in our power to make sure that the students who leave our classrooms are deep thinkers, critical problem solvers and caring stewards of the United States of America, regardless of who occupies the White House. We will also encourage students and their families to share their ideas and expectations for you as our president, and we expect that their voices will be heard and considered.
Many people are concerned that your presidency will not be one “of the people, by the people,” but we expect and will not tolerate anything less. We will act collectively and creatively to agitate for equity and justice. Intolerance and discrimination are not welcome in our schools. Our students represent the great breadth of diversity in this nation, and each student should feel valued, welcomed and loved. Comments and actions that undermine our commitment to equity and inclusion are and always will be swiftly condemned and reversed. We hope our classrooms can serve as models for our nation at large. We hope that you, too, will set an example for the people of our nation.
We want to extend to your administration our expertise as educators. We have seen the power of dialogue and empathy in a diverse population, whether that population is within our classrooms or our own communities. The problems we face as schools and a nation cannot be solved by one person. Complicated problems require compromise and open-mindedness. Divisive language serves no purpose other than to further alienate those who disagree. Furthermore, any action or language that seeks to discriminate only tarnishes the fabric of our collective American identity. Just as a classroom cannot flourish without the feeling of security, society cannot advance if its citizens believe that their leaders do not see the value and wisdom in listening to a variety of viewpoints.
Your actions and those of your administration will make a lasting impact on our students, fellow educators and communities long after you’ve left the White House, and the eyes of our children and the eyes of history will be watching you. We hope that your administration takes the concerns of our nation’s educators and children as seriously as we do.
Henry “Cody” Miller, English teacher, Gainesville, Florida
Karen Schreiner, 2nd-grade teacher, Oakland, California
Chris Widmaier, science teacher, Rochester, New York
Editor's Note: Do you agree with the sentiments of this message? The three authors encourage you to make your voice heard by personalizing this letter and sending it to our new president. You can download a copy here.
When you enter your classroom each morning, what gives you hope? What energizes you? What makes you smile?
Here at Teaching Tolerance, we have the daily privilege of reading essays, features and posts that get us fired up. Each one is a hope-filled gift that invigorates our work and gives it deeper meaning.
With the Spring issue of Teaching Tolerance, we’re re-gifting.
We want you to smile as widely as we did when we unwrapped the wisdom of hundreds of students who shared their advice to the new president as part of our #StudentsSpeak campaign.
We want you to be deeply stirred by a letter from veteran educator Rhonda Thomason, who calls for a “revolution of hope.” Thomason dares us to imagine more for our classrooms and our world, to take chances and to empower one another. Her gift can strengthen your resolve.
We want you to be compelled to act. Open “Expelling Islamophobia” to read how religious literacy can expel misunderstanding and hate; tear into “Immigrant and Refugee Children” to learn how you can advocate for immigrant students whose rights are in peril.
We want you to be inspired by like-minded educators. Read how school counselor Barbie Garayúa-Tudryn developed a Latina civic empowerment program in response to the needs of her students. Feel the urgency of journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones’ real talk about school segregation, and think critically with James Loewen as he reveals “What Learning About Slavery Can Teach Us About Ourselves.”
Like the flourishing garden on this issue’s cover, these stories can cultivate hope and resolve in times when friendship, kindness and justice may be struggling to take root.
The Atlantic: “It’s become a necessity to have teachers equipped and willing to talk about race and racism.”
Chalkbeat: “‘This pilot program will further level the playing field for children in underserved cities across the state by expanding their access to programs and community resources that will help them get ahead in school and later on in life.’”
Education Dive: “[Superintendent Mark Laurrie] hopes an increasingly diverse staff will lead to improved academic outcomes for students, namely test scores and graduation rates. He believes it will also improve the school culture and make everyone in the school community more accepting of diversity.”
Education Week: “Research shows that chronic absenteeism is linked with lower achievement, disengagement from school, and increased risk of dropping out. And it disproportionately is a problem among low-income students and students with disabilities.”
The Huffington Post: “There’s one key issue where it turns out protesters and law enforcement officers overwhelmingly agree: Bad cops aren’t held accountable.”
Mic: “[Bureau of Indian Education] schools are routinely among the worst-funded and lowest-performing in the nation. Students who attend these institutions graduate high school at rates nearly 20% lower than the overall Native American high school grad rate.”
National Public Radio: “While some states are working hard to get kids a diploma, others have lowered their standards or turned to questionable quick fixes.”
The New York Times: “Dr. King’s message of equality and justice for all are best embedded in the curriculum all year round.”
Shana V. White: “Complicit behavior has no color. Educators must remember it is our responsibility to speak out.”
The Tennessesan: “One of the most important roles a state can play is ensure we are focused on all students. ... And that comes in our own transparency of our metrics.”
The Washington Post: “It is believed that about 1 in 5 of the more than 50 million students in America’s public schools are suffering with one mental condition or another. That’s a problem for parents and educators alike, especially given that most don’t get treated and most school districts don’t have the resources to provide adequate mental health services for students.”
The Washington Post: “The question is whether public schools owe disabled children ‘some’ educational benefit—which courts have determined to mean just-above-trivial progress—or whether students legally deserve something more: a substantial, ‘meaningful’ benefit.”
Weld for Birmingham: “What affects the Birmingham City School system affects the entire city indirectly, by way of corporate recruitment, poverty levels, crime rates, and overall prosperity.”
If you come across a current article or blog you think other educators should read, please send it to email@example.com, and put “What We’re Reading This Week” in the subject line.