It’s our privilege to serve educators, and we couldn’t do it without the invaluable feedback and support of the Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board: a special group of teachers, counselors, media specialists, school- and district-level administrators and education professors. These educators and leaders volunteer their time to review our resources, try our curricular tools and act as ambassadors for TT.
In February, we put out a call for advisors and received about 250 applications. Our staff reviewed each application with an eye for the applicant’s knowledge of our work and resources and for their experience in the field of anti-bias education. With our final selections, we also aimed to achieve a wide representation of disciplines, grade levels, expertise, locales and voices on the advisory board.
Without further ado, we’re happy to announce the 2017-19 advisory board members, who will begin their two-year term in July.
We’re excited to welcome six first-time members:
- Julie Bradley – Middle school ELL teacher, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
- Hayley Breden – High school social studies teacher, Denver, Colorado
- Kimberly Burkhalter – Director of equity/diversity and magnet programs, Wichita, Kansas
- Kevin Cordi – Assistant professor of education, Ada, Ohio
- Angela Hartman – Secondary school librarian, Hutto, Texas
- Kinette Richards – Middle school psychologist, Aurora, Colorado
And we’re proud to welcome back 19 members:
- Dale Allender – Assistant professor of education, Sacramento, California
- Lhisa Almashy – High school ESL teacher and coordinator, Palm Beach County, Florida
- Kim Estelle – Sixth-grade teacher, Huntsville, Alabama
- Carrie Gaffney – Middle school IB teacher and coordinator, Indianapolis, Indiana
- Soñia Galaviz – Elementary teacher, Boise, Idaho
- Gail Heath – Sixth-grade English and language arts teacher, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Michelle Higgins – High school social studies teacher, Walla Walla, Washington
- Amy Melik – K–12 ELL coordinator and teacher, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Veronica Menefee – Special education teacher and consultant, Nottingham, Maryland
- Amber Makaiau – Associate specialist and director of curriculum and research, Oahu, Hawaii
- Amber Neal – Elementary reading and language arts teacher, Houston, Texas
- Sarah Neely – Elementary school teacher, Grosse Pointe, Michigan
- Lois Parker-Hennion – High school library media specialist, Orangeburg, New York
- David Paschall – High school social studies and humanities teacher, Austin, Texas
- Celeste Payne – High school science teacher, West Chester, Pennsylvania
- Kim Siar – Elementary school teacher, Norristown, Pennsylvania
- Joe Schmidt – High school social studies initiatives specialist, Augusta, Maine
- Scott Thomas – Elementary school principal, Eagan, Minnesota
- Barbie Garayúa-Tudryn – Elementary school counselor, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Congratulations to our new and returning members. We look forward to working with you!
Does your school have a plan in place if an incident of hate or bias occurs—whether on campus or online? Such an incident can happen anywhere, any time, in any school community. For the good of your school and community at large, your answer can’t afford to be no. Take recent events at two high schools.
One concerns students from Albany High School in Albany, California. Several white students created a now-deleted Instagram account in which they racially insulted classmates of color. One post featured an image of a black doll with images of the Ku Klux Klan, a torch and a noose. Another post featured a photo of a student of color with a noose around her neck.
Hundreds of Albany High students responded by holding a three-hour-long sit-in and carrying posters stating, “Black is beautiful” and “We won’t stand for racism.”
The principal and superintendent noted in a statement that other racially biased incidents involving the students who created the Instagram account had been going on for months and admitted that the school climate was in need of some repair. These students had been making Nazi hand salutes and other anti-Semitic gestures in the hallways. “These recent events have underscored our need to ... implement restorative justice practices, as well as culturally responsive teaching and practices,” the statement reads. “It is our goal not only to set the tone that any racist, sexist, discriminatory, or hate related speech and behavior will not be tolerated, but that we also create a school community in which all students feel safe, welcome, and respected.”
Another case from last week involves students from Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, Florida. Two white students invited a black student, who attends homeschool, to the prom with a sign that read, “You may be picking cotton, but we’re picking you to go to the prom with us.” A photo of the students holding the sign—all three smiling—went viral and quickly attracted ire. A spokesperson for the district explained the district’s pride in the community’s and schools’ diversity and that it’s “committed to providing learning environments that foster inclusion and respect.”
In each case, at Albany High and Monarch High, the offending students were suspended and the school or district made it a point to let the public know that an investigation was underway. Albany High even had their suspended students meet with teachers and targeted students upon their return to school.
Each school did something, but that’s not enough.
As Teaching Tolerance advises administrators dealing with such incidents in the guide Responding to Hate and Bias at School, “Whether the incident was violent or nonviolent, one of your most important tasks as an administrator is to focus on restoration and not merely punishment.” That means restoration for the entire school community, families included, because the entire community has been wounded.
So when a meeting scheduled for Saturday, April 1, with Albany High’s principal was canceled via email the night prior to the meeting without explanation, families were disappointed, to say the least. “We looked forward to this meeting to be the adult examples our children need to see,” said one parent. Families have yet to hear from the school or district about rescheduling.
After the Monarch High incident, softball teammates and families of the suspended students said the sign was an inside joke and that no offense was intended. But again, the whole community has been affected by this “joke,” and healing needs to take place.
No one wants to deal with these kinds of incidents or their aftermaths. News travels quickly, emotions are high and people want answers. Administrators, yes, do condemn the act, communicate with media and respond appropriately to offending students.
But it is just as important—perhaps more so—for you to tend to the state of your school community during the crisis and the days after. The wellbeing of the student body needs to be your priority, so focus on repairing your school’s climate for the short and long term. That means providing opportunities for all students and families to express themselves and to hear from you and each other. That means promoting efforts to reduce prejudice, celebrate differences and foster empathy—in the curriculum and throughout school programming. That means unequivocally condemning biased acts and language. And that most certainly means having a plan in place well before any incident occurs.
Responding to Hate and Bias at School, as well as our other school climate resources, can help.
Bell is the senior editor for Teaching Tolerance.
In the midst of news about budget cuts and abandoned healthcare reform, the Trump administration has also been initiating massive changes to President Obama’s environmental safeguarding policies—including reinstating development of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The administration calls this initiative a “historic moment for … energy independence,” but many environmental organizations have questioned the pipeline’s benefits and warn of potential damage to thousands of acres of ecologically fragile land in Western and heartland states.
Whether or not you have already spoken with students about the similarly controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, now is a critical time for lessons and conversations about the debates surrounding both projects—and how they might alter the environment, energy policy and the lives of people in affected areas.
Here are some questions to get you started.
- What is the Keystone XL Pipeline?
- How is the Keystone XL Pipeline similar to or different from the Dakota Access Pipeline?
- What is the proposed route of the Keystone XL Pipeline? Through what countries, states and tribal lands would it cross?
- What are some potential benefits of the pipeline? How about potential drawbacks?
- In what ways do the decisions we make today (like the Keystone XL Pipeline) affect people in the future?
- The Obama administration cancelled construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, but the Trump administration supports it. What might account for such differing views on construction of the pipeline?
Remember: Earth Day falls on April 22! One more reason to have this conversation with students now.
The Baltimore Sun: “The district’s advanced classes—honors, gifted and talented, and AP—are disproportionately white, while the regular and remedial classes are disproportionately black.”
Buzzfeed: “‘America is the most accepting that it has ever been. Having 20% of millennials identify as LGBTQ is pretty groundbreaking.’”
Education Week: “The lack of children’s literature that is representative of urban children, people of color, and the wide diversity of society is well-documented. And it means that most of my students have come to know books as largely irrelevant to their lives.”
The Establishment: “I rebuke the bigoted delusion that I am not American — and so I have taken on the most unlikely of missions. I’ve decided to don the uniform of that quintessential American superhero: Captain America.”
National Public Radio: “Muslim children, in particular, have been primary targets for hate incidents.”
The New York Times: “Betsy DeVos, in her first extended policy address as education secretary, argued on Wednesday for an expansion of school choice programs, pointing to lagging test scores and a program championed by the Obama administration that funneled billions into low-performing schools but failed to produce better academic outcomes.”
The New York Times: “The narrative around missing black girls is only part of the problem. Mainstream feminism has historically ignored the issues facing runaway and other missing black girls as well as most other issues regarding women and children of color.”
Rolling Stone: “Some say an uptick in bullying incidents this fall were caused by the divisive election—but how does a school fix the underlying problems?”
The Santa Fe New Mexican: “A bill approved by the state Legislature in its recent session would ensure that students in all New Mexico public schools get meals even if their parents are behind on payments.”
Vox: “We’re seeing a true bubble of false information online. Here’s how I’ve adapted my curriculum and teaching style to make sure my students know which sources to trust—and which to reject.”
The Washington Post: “Schools sometimes create and perpetuate the negative myths about some students that damages their self-image, and it is the responsibility of teachers to help students create positive stories about themselves as learners.”
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.
Today North Carolina lawmakers voted to pass House Bill 142 (HB142), legislation its authors say will repeal House Bill 2 (HB2), the controversial state law that came to be known as the “bathroom bill.” HB142 then went to Governor Roy Cooper who signed it into law.
HB2 prohibits the use of public facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms by anyone whose sex assigned at birth does not match the designation of the facility. For example, HB2 prohibits transgender boys from using the boys’ restroom at school. HB2 also blocks local non-discrimination ordinances, like one in Charlotte that would have protected LGBT people from discrimination in public facilities.
HB2 was widely criticized by LGBT activists, business owners and legal scholars who saw it as institutional discrimination and a violation of civil rights. The Associated Press estimated that HB2’s cost to the North Carolina economy approached $3.7 billon in lost financial opportunities, fueled in no small part by giants like PayPal and the NCAA, which publically denounced the bill and announced they would take their business elsewhere. In another example, the NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans because of the bill, taking with it a weekend’s worth of revenue what would have been a major boost to the city’s economy.
HB142 is being described by supporters as a compromise between Republican lawmakers and Gov. Cooper (who is a Democrat). But LGBT advocacy organizations have uniformly stated that calling the deal a “repeal” of HB2 is inaccurate and does not mitigate potential harm to LGBT individuals. Among their concerns: The bill prohibits state actors (such as public universities, community colleges, local school boards, state agencies and others) from issuing any rules related to restrooms, showers or changing areas that accommodate multiple users. It also bans towns and municipalities from enacting or amending local anti-discrimination ordinances for four years.
Consider taking advantage of this timely debate and inviting your students into the conversation. Regardless of how they feel about HB2, give them an opportunity to read and interpret the legal documents, news coverage and statements from those who drafted HB142—and those who oppose it.
- Compare and contrast the two bills. How are they similar? How are they different? (This is an opportunity for students to make a Venn diagram, chart or other visual representation to show their knowledge.)
- The impact of HB2 on North Carolina’s economy was a major consideration in the legislature’s second attempt at this bill. And economic resistance has long been a successful tactic for civil rights activists. What are some other examples of economic resistance?
- Which sections of this bill would contribute to opposition from the LGBT community and its allies? Which sections of the bill would contribute to opposition from HB2 proponents?
- Is HB142 a repeal of HB2? Why or why not?