3.15.17: Weekly Progress Report
SPOTLIGHT: I BELIEVE THE CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE
No new blog post this week, but we’re loving this note from a fourth grader that’s gone viral during Women’s History Month, and we can’t stop cracking up about this DC-area kindergartener’s feelings about Donald Trump (plus the teacher’s transcription). And if you're headed into your second snow day of the week, maybe it's time to pull out this YouTube favorite: what principals do on snow days.
Welcome to the Teach Progress weekly digest! This week, we're featuring calls to action and resources about Trump’s immigration ban, supporting affected students, and promoting religious tolerance. Or, scroll down for a roundup of the week's biggest education stories, calls to action, and upcoming events.
WEEK IN FOCUS: MUSLIM BAN 2.0
Last week, the Trump administration rolled out the new iteration of its ban on refugees from all countries and nationals from Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Syria, Libya, Iran, and Somalia. The new ban allows “legal permanent residents (green card holders), dual nationals, current visa holders, diplomats, and people who have already been granted asylum or refugee status,” a point of contention in the original. It also lifts Iraq from the banned list, likely because the administration landed in hot water with the military after refusing entry to Iraqis who had aided the US.
While this may sound like “Ban Lite™,” let’s be clear:
- This is still a Muslim ban, rooted in Islamophobia, and probably unconstitutional (even Mike Pence knows it!)
- Since 1975, no one from a banned country has committed a fatal terror attack in the United States
- For refugees and others coming from countries in crisis, this ban may amount to a matter of life and death – which is especially egregious since the United States already has an extremely rigorous refugee vetting process
The effects of the Muslim ban and Trump’s Islamophobic views are already playing out in schools and universities across America: students travel overseas only to find themselves stuck, teachers report a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment and bullying, and children face fear and anxiety that their families may be the next affected.
THE GOOD NEWS (via Small Victories by Peace is Loud)
In the courts, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Washington have already begun to fight back against the new ban, and a recent campaign to encourage Muslim Americans to run for office got 120 responses on the first day.
Need more good news? Just two weeks ago, the first Muslim American, Mahershala Ali, won an acting Oscar for his incredible portrayal in Moonlight.
CALLS TO ACTION
- National: call your Senators using 5 Calls’ script and tell them that you support Senator Chris Murphy’s bill to block implementation of the ban.
- State/Local: Refugee Council USA has a list of local affiliates that you can contact directly to support refugees in your area; we also encourage calling your governor, state and local reps, mayor, and state attorney general to ask them to make public statements oppo sing the ban.
Resources for Educators
We recognize that not all of our resources are right for educators in every type of school. We encourage you to use your discretion about what will work in your classroom and to take smart risks when introducing your students to topics that some may find controversial. Read more about our “smart risk” mentality >>
- ES: The rich tapestry of religion in the United States (Teaching Tolerance)
- MS/HS: ‘They call us terrorists’ – Muslim students bullied in California schools (VoiceWaves)
- MS/HS: Debunking stereotypes about Muslims and Islam (Teaching Tolerance)
- MS/HS: The refugee crisis and human responsibility (Facing History and Ourselves)
- MS/HS: Toolkit for Expelling Islamophobia (Teaching Tolerance)
- HS: Analyzing Trump’s immigration ban: a lesson plan (NYT Learning Network)
- HS: Why Trump’s new executive order is still a Muslim ban (Teen Vogue)
- Blog: ‘But you don’t look like a Muslim (Teaching Tolerance)
- Blog: Confronting students’ Islamophobia (Teaching Tolerance)
- E-Course: Harvard launches free online class to promote religious literacy (Huffington Post)
- Toolkit: Refugee children in US schools: a toolkit for teachers and school personnel (Bridging Refugee Youth & Children’s Services)
- Policy guidance: Expelling Islamophobia (Teaching Tolerance)
- Research paper: Urban refugee education: strengthening policies and practice for access, equity and inclusion (Columbia Teachers College)
- Toolkit: Dismantling Islamophobia (Harvard Graduate School of Education)
EDUCATION AROUND THE WEB
NEWS AND POLICY HEADLINES
Key provisions from the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are gone this week after Republicans used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to scrap them, leaving many unclear on what exactly the repeal means for states and districts. Betsy DeVos has stayed quiet so far on ESSA (maybe because she doesn’t know what it is? Or can’t spell it?), but she’ll have a lot of control over how to interpret it now that rules on teacher preparation, state accountability, and testing have been lifted. If you’re worried about the CRA or feel like you should be (pro tip: you should be), the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards’ Rules at Risk website is a good place to track what’s going on.
In weirder (and yet somehow unsurprising) news, new research from the University of Pennsylvania suggests that anti-Common Core activists staged a Twitter bot war against the standards to exaggerate negative public opinion. Say what? According to their findings in the #commoncore project, “the illusion of a vociferous Twitter conversation waged by a spontaneous mass of disconnected peers, whereas in actuality the peers are the unified proxy voice of a single viewpoint.” Stay classy, conservatives.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Republicans’ disastrous Obamacare replacement, which has dominated the news headlines this week. In addition to projections that 24 million people will lose their coverage under the proposed plan (which many are saying is already dead on arrival), rolling back Medicaid also has dire implications for schools. Many low-income children receive their healthcare through Medicaid, and school districts across the country use Medicaid funding to provide services—including staff—to support students with disabilities. There are also questions in the new law about what will happen to employees like substitute teachers and paraprofessionals whose full-time schedule falls under forty hours a week. Looking for some general #SaveTheACA calls to action? Check out our friends at 2 Hours a Week.
CALLS TO ACTION
- Tell your member of Congress that we need paid family leave for all working families, not just the wealthy (Moms Rising)
- Send a letter telling Congress not to cut Medicaid funding that would hurt kids with disabilities (Network for Public Education)
- Sign the ACLU’s petition to stand up for transgender students’ rights (American Civil Liberties Union)
- AR: Fight the proposed ban against Howard Zinn by requesting a free copy of one of Zinn’s books and A People’s History for the Classroom, or donate here to help other educators get copies
- AZ: If you’re represented by David Stringer, who said teaching is easy with no special skills required, call his office (602-926-4838) and tell him why he’s wrong
- NY: This week, members of the state legislature killed a bill that would have allowed the state to fully and appropriately fund public schools. Contact your legislators to tell them they owe it to NY's children to pass a strong education budget.
Have a state or local call to action to share? Click here to send it to us.
UPCOMING EVENTS (VIA RESISTANCE CALENDAR AND RISE PEOPLE’S CALENDAR)
New Yorkers! Some good friends and fellow educators are hosting a fundraiser later this month to support progressive grassroots organizing in Arizona and North Carolina. You can check out the invitation here or email email@example.com for more information.
We also have two events for students this week: a student summit on viral news and fact checking from Facing History and Ourselves, and the ACLU Summer Institute for 11th and 12th graders interested in social justice and activism.
Finally, the Rosenberg Fund for Children is currently accepting grant applications on behalf of young people who have been affected by their progressive activism, or have been targeted as a result of their parents’ progressive activism. The deadline to apply is March 31st.
Other upcoming events:
- 3/18: Rally for education (Atlanta); Children’s march for positive change (Ann Arbor, MI)
- 3/19: Training for youth in nonviolent action (Philly); Nonpartisan conversation on healthcare/education(Spartanburg, SC)
- 3/20: Public screening of ‘13th’ documentary (Covington, KY); Public hearing to defend Question 2, funding for education (Augusta, ME)
- 3/22: TNTP Bridge Fellows teleconference (online)
- 3/24: Postcards to Betsy DeVos (nationwide)
- 3/24 – 3/26: Undoing Racism community organizing workshop (NYC)
- 3/26: Students’ march (Olympia, WA); Chalk Talk: a town hall for education (Reno, NV)
- 3/31: TurnTheTables: Don’t pass-over education justice! (Philly)