Teaching About the Human Impact of Natural Disasters

In response to the terrible impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has made 3 chapters of their 2010 bulletin, The Human Impact of Natural Disasters:  Issues for the Inquiry-Based Classroom publicly available at the request of the editors.  The book contains essays by scholars and practitioners about a range of topics concerning natural disasters and their consequences, and how social studies educators can address them in their daily practice. The bulletin has a prominent emphasis on human rights issues, and includes lesson suggestions as well as a comprehensive bibliography.

>> Access the free chapters 
>> Full text for NCSS members

John Brown Day Celebration and Anti-Racism Symposium

EVENT DETAILS:
When: Saturday October 14, 2017
Where: Woodstock Union High School  Woodstock, Vermont
Cost: $10-20 sliding-scale registration fee includes breakfast

On 5 May of this year, the Vermont legislature adopted a concurrent resolution “designating October 16, 2017 as John Brown Day in Vermont.” To commemorate the day, the Woodstock Social Justice Initiative is hosting a Brown celebration and anti-racism event in Woodstock, Vermont on the October 14th aimed at empowering community members with the understanding and tools needed to take action against racism. Several renowned experts on Brown, abolitionism and anti-abolitionism in Vermont and New Hampshire will be presenting, as will local educators who will demonstrate how they teach about Brown and other controversial figures.

Continuing education credits will be available.

>> Learn more
>> Register for event

CHILDREN CAN BE HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS, TOO!

By Ellen V. Moore

In 1987, while I was co-director of Amnesty International USA’s Urgent Action Program, I began the monthly AIKids’ Urgent Action Program for youngsters ages 9-14 years old. For decades, our UA Office in Nederland, Colorado sent out casesheets to teachers, parents, scout troops, Sunday Schools, individual young people often about youngsters facing human rights abuses in Africa, South and Central America, in Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

Sometimes a casesheet would lay out details of the arrest of a union activist and his children who were with him at a rally.  Sometimes Amnesty was asking for letters to a government official who, with the stroke of a pen, could ensure the release of a medical rights pediatrician in Pakistan who was being threatened along with her family members, for speaking out at demonstrations about the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights article defining basic medical care as a basic human right.

I shared the AIKids’ Urgent Action with my UA colleagues in London and AI United Kingdom almost immediately began its own effort at youth letter-writing, The Junior Urgent Action.  Shortly, AICanada’s Urgent Action Program Director Marilyn McKim began the LifeSaver geared for students from 4th to ninth grades.  Every year, another AI Section either began using the AIKids’ UAs or the youth casesheets from Canada or the United Kingdom, and throughout Central and Latin America AI Sections began using the Spanish language casesheets produced by a Spanish language teacher in Colorado, Maya Meis.

There has always been debate, in education in general and among Amnesty International human rights educators about when and if to introduce students to human rights issues and especially to human rights abuses worldwide.  As I reviewed copies of children’s letter sent to me over many decades from teachers, parents, scout leaders, and young students themselves, I became convinced that in many, even most, instances young letter writers were profoundly empowered by advocacy letter-writing because “doing something” about human rights appears to have empowered the young writers to “Speak truth to power.”

Hundreds of letters written by children using the AIKids’ Urgent Action casesheets are now part of the AIUSA Archives at Columbia University’s Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research which preserves the papers of a dozen human rights organizations and many dozen individual human rights activists worldwide but especially from the United States.

Though AIUSA no longer produces the monthly AIKids’ Urgent Actions, it is of huge comfort to me that both AI Canada and AI United Kingdom continue their monthly letter-writing programs for students with all this implies about students learning that they need not passively learn of human rights abuses daily on the web and on television or in film but they too can take action to speak out to persons in authority urging a halt to unacceptable government collusion in internationally-condemned behaviors against minorities, women, the elderly, children, ethnic groups and refugees.

As part of the international AI Write for Rights December Celebration of the UDHR, there will be and has always been, a case specially written for young letter-writers.  This casesheet is not only for young writers, but new English speakers, persons in literacy classes, families who want to write together to honor the December 10, 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Celebrate the UDHR in your home or your classroom, your school or church by letter-writing with a youngster.  Better to light a candle, than curse the darkness; “Write a letter, change a life.”

Ellen V. Moore worked at Amnesty International for over 30 years as the Urgent Action Program Coordinator and has also served on the Board of Directors at Amnesty International USA.

Call to Action #StopRepeatingHistory

More than 70 years ago, three cases were heard before the Supreme Court of the United States, challenging the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans.  The Supreme Court majority ruled against the three plaintiffs, Gordon Hirabayashi, Minoru Yasui, and Fred Korematsu,  essentially “rubber-stamping” the military’s bald assertion that the mass round-up was reasonable and necessary. In doing so, the Court abdicated its critical role in safeguarding fundamental freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.

The children of Gordon Hirabayashi, Minoru Yasui, and Fred Korematsu filed an amicus brief on September 18th in the U.S. Supreme Court opposing Executive Order No. 13780, the Trump administration’s travel ban on nationals from six Muslim-majority nations, pointing to the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII as an urgent warning against presidential powers run amok.

Human Rights Educators USA is joining the nationwide campaign to #StopRepeatingHistory. We encourage you to add your name to this call to action.

>> Learn more and join the campaign

Teaching Immigration with Immigrant Stories

The Advocates for Human Rights and the Immigration History Research Center (IHRC) are pleased to announce the release of Teaching Immigration with the Immigrant Stories Project. This free, three-unit curriculum for grades 8 to adults helps students learn about U.S. immigration, past and present, through immigrants’ personal stories.

Each unit features several digital stories from the IHRC’s Immigrant Stories project. The project helps people create 3-5 minute original videos about a personal or family immigration experience. Students study these stories within the broader contexts of the U.S. immigration system, U.S. immigration history, and global migration conditions.

Teaching Immigration includes lesson plans, classroom activities, worksheets, background summaries, and up-to-date fact sheets. Teachers may also download PowerPoints explaining complex aspects of the U.S. immigration system.

>> Download Curriculum and PowerPoints

International Day of Peace

EVENT DETAILS:

When: Thursday, September 20th
Where: Earth

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

The theme for 2017 is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.” This focus is drawn from TOGETHER, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for refugees and migrants. TOGETHER unites the members of the United Nations, their citizens and their public and private institutions in a global partnership in support of diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants.

“In times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbors as ‘the other’. Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people — and societies — from achieving their full potential.” He added, “Together, let us build bridges;  let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights.”

Please take some time in your classes or school to explore the theme of respect, safety and dignity for all. Included in the link below are sample lessons, websites and links to materials to help  build a culture of respect and dignity where everyone feels safe.

>> Access resources

Defend DACA

To rally support for the over 800,000 young people who would be negatively impacted by a repeal of DACA, ARTE (Art and Resistance Through Education) has shared the following ways we can all take action:

5-10 minute action: Please call the White House today and tell them that “we need to protect and preserve DACA!” The direct link to the comment line can be found here.

15-30 minute action: Here is a list of a few other actions that you can take, ranging from contacting your member of Congress to using social media.

Actions for Educators:
Contribute to the ARTE social media campaign, #ThankYouForBeingHereMore details are available here. Please share widely!

#DefendDACA New York City teach-in: In collaboration with the Art Education Department at City College, ARTE is sponsoring an resource sharing / teach-in to strategize how to teach art in defense of DACA. Please join us at on Wednesday, September 13th from 5:30-7:30pm at Shepard Hall Room 303 (third floor, please bring a photo ID). Friends and family members of all ages are welcome!

National curriculum call: Please join us on a 60-minute call as we will be discussing the ways that we can create a curriculum around immigration history, the history / defense of DACA/DREAM Act, and the work of immigrant artists and activists. We want to also create a space where educators can share resources on how to protect and keep our undocumented youth communities safe in the aftermath of the decision to end DACA. Sign-up form and details on the call (Monday, September 11 at 8:30pm EST) can be found here.

Can’t join the teach-in or the call? Please feel free to contribute resources to the following collaborative document, which will be an open-sourced curriculum and resource list for educators, activists, artists, and others.

>> Learn More