News & Updates

Celebrate National Voter Registration Day #UseMyVoice #UseMyVote

Today is National Voter Registration Day! 

To help celebrate and encourage students and adults to register, Teaching Tolerance (TT) has put together some greater resources on their “Register Voters” page.

If you’re already supporting voter-registration efforts at your school, share it here and add your name to the Voting and Voices map.  Also be sure to spread the word on Twitter using #UseMyVoice and #UseMyVote.

Even students who are ineligible to vote can pledge to participate in the democratic process with these two pledges you can share with students—and their families—to empower them to use their voices or their votes in the 2018 midterm elections.

The health of our democracy depends on the next generations of voters and voting advocates. There is no better time to commit to helping students register to vote and identify as agents of civic change. For further resources,  see TT’s  Voting and Voices page to give your students the tools—and the support—to participate in the democratic process.

Abolish Columbus Day

Celebrating Columbus means celebrating colonialism, celebrating racism, celebrating genocide. It’s time that instead we paid tribute to the people who were here first, who are still here, and who are leading the struggle for a sustainable planet.

It is time to stop celebrating the crimes of Columbus and stand in solidarity with the Indigenous people who demand an end to Columbus Day. Instead of glorifying a person who enslaved and murdered people, destroyed cultures, and terrorized those who challenged his rule, we seek to honor these communities demanding sovereignty, recognition, and rights.

To encourage schools to petition their administration and for communities to introduce legislation to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, The Zinn Education Project has compiled a 14-page packet that contains articles, sample resolutions, a resource list, and a poster.

>> Learn more

 

Tips for Making Classrooms More Inclusive

By the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

Back to School is a busy time for educators as they set up their students for success — laminating name tags, creating bulletin boards and writing lesson plans. They know that for many children, the first few days back to school can make or break their year. As educators sharpen their pencils, the HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools program is working to ensure that schools also take the time to make classrooms a welcoming place for all by cultivating an LGBTQ and gender-inclusive learning environment.

 

Don’t know where to start? HRC is here to help with these tips for developing LGBTQ and gender-inclusive classrooms and schools.

 

  1. Use inclusive language on all forms. Back to school means paperwork for families. Educators can make the process welcoming by ensuring all handbooks, forms and other communications are inclusive of all family structures and gender identities (e.g., using phrases such as “families and caring adults” in place of “moms and dads”).
  2. Stock your library shelves with diverse books. Make sure students have access to books that reflect not only their lives but also identities and perspectives outside their experiences. Challenge stereotypes by featuring a Welcoming Schools recommended book as a first-day read-aloud.
  3. Create a welcoming bulletin board. We know displays are important features in every classroom, so why not switch out the apples and school buses for a display that shows diverse family structures and people of different races, gender expressions, and abilities? Use slogans that encourage respect for all people. For an easy visual, print a Welcoming Schools safe school sign.
  4. Develop clear classroom and/or school agreements. Educators must ensure that bullying policies specifically name groups that are disproportionately bullied or harassed, and then make it clear to students that this means no put-downs about who someone is or who their family is. Preventing bias-based bullying starts on day one.
  5. Prepare for teachable moments. Educators can practice how to respond when they hear students say things like “That’s gay!” or “You act like a girl!” or “You’re not a real family because you don’t have a dad!” Be prepared to interrupt mean teasing about a child’s identity or their family.
  6. Model inclusive language. Instead of addressing classes as “boys and girls,” try using non-gendered words like “students,” “scholars,” or “friends” to be more inclusive of all identities.
  7. Group students according to something other than gender. There’s no need to have boys’ closets and girls’ cubbies. Divide children by number or line them up by birth month, the color of clothing or alphabetically by name.
  8. Try a new lesson plan. Educators can give one of the Welcoming Schools lessons a try and start the year by teaching students how to be allies and learning about what makes each child special.
  9. Plan a family night. Hold an evening event to celebrate all families. Provide information for families and caring adults to help them talk with their children about LGBTQ and gender topics.

>> Learn more about the Welcoming Schools Program

Never Forget – Teaching 9/11

Each September brings a flurry of excitement and anxiety for parents, teachers, and students. Beginning in September 2002 another factor was added to the list: how and what to teach about 9/11.

“Never forget” became a national rallying cry after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Yet America’s schools — where collective memory is shaped — are now full of students who never knew. Because they weren’t alive 17 years ago.  In fact, most individuals under the age of 30 have limited or no memories of the world before the attacks of September 11,2001 and were certainly not old enough to fully understand how the subsequent U.S. response, including the so-called “War on Terror” and its resulting policies, impacted human rights.

As such, many teachers struggle with whether and how to teach the attacks and their aftermath, but, in order to never forget, our children need to be taught about 9/11. More importantly, they need to understand how changes in U.S. national security policy post-9/11 continue to manifest themselves in new and different ways today, even as public and media attention wanes. These trends are especially apparent among young people, who reportedly demonstrate low rates of awareness of issues such as indefinite detention or drone strikes, and often exhibit lower levels of civic participation around national security and human rights issues.

That’s where Human Rights in National Security: An Educator’s Toolkit comes in. The events of the past seventeen years are highly relevant in a number of academic disciplines: civics, political science, law, literature, film, religious studies, international relations, and more. This toolkit provides educators with lesson plans and resources to address these issues in the classroom and to empower students to assess their developments through a human rights lens. It also aims to increase participation among high school and college students in activism and advocacy around torture, surveillance, anti-Muslim hate, indefinite detention, and other common human rights violations associated with post-9/11 U.S. policy.

>> Download Toolkit

Need support? If so, please email us. Human Rights Educators USA has teamed up with Amnesty International USA to gather feedback and improve this resource.

Teaching Human Rights Workshop

EVENT DETAILS: 

When: Saturday, September 29, 2018, 9:30 AM  – Sunday, September 30, 2018, 1:30 Where: Columbia University, Int’l Affairs Bldg, 420 W. 118 St., NY, NY 10027, Room 802
Cost: $400 (Early bird discount of $50 for those who register by September 10th)

A two-day interactive workshop to build your knowledge of human rights, develop skills to teach human rights to your students, and build/strengthen your capacity to promote respect and empathy within your school or community.

This workshop will develop the capacity of participants to engage in human rights education – to foster knowledge, skills, attitudes, and action for the protection and promotion of human rights among students using rights-based teaching methods. This workshop will include participatory learning activities and active discussion that draws on participants’ own knowledge and perspectives.

Participants will:

  • Learn key human rights concepts, international law, and strategies for human rights advocacy
  • Be introduced to and practice rights-based teaching approaches, which include participatory, interactive and experiential learning methods that respect human rights.
  • Design and facilitate a human rights learning activity
  • Learn how human rights education can meet state standard requirements

Workshop content will be tailored to meet the needs and interests of participants. Prior knowledge of human rights is not required.  Certificate of completion from Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights will be awarded.

Limited fellowships available on a rolling basis. Apply here.

>>Learn more and register

Teach Reconstruction

Reconstruction, the era immediately following the Civil War and emancipation, is full of stories that help us see the possibility of a future defined by racial equity. Yet the possibilities and achievements of this era are too often overshadowed by the violent white supremacist backlash.

The Zinn Education Project offers lessons for middle and high school, a student campaign to make Reconstruction history visible in their communities, and an annotated list of recommended teaching guides, student-friendly books, primary document collections, and films.

>> Learn more

Amnesty International USA Regional Conferences

EVENT DETAILS: 

When: October – November
Where: Various Locations throughout the US
Cost: $15-35

Amnesty International USA is excited to announce the 2018 Regional Conferences throughout the months of October through November in locations across the United States. Regional conferences bring together Amnesty members and other human rights activists to continue the tradition of engaging in networking opportunities, inspiring plenaries, and hands-on skill-building workshops, as well as shaping the policies of the organization.  As activists, you will be challenged to initiate change within your own communities. This will only happen with you – we need you there!

>> Learn more and register