February 16, 2012

Coverage of Teach-in from Georgia State

Check out this recap of the teach-in from GSU's Claire Miller.

"Teach-in" facilitates discussion of curriculum and censorship

by Claire Miller

College of Education Assistant Professor Rhina Fernandes Williams asked attendees at “Teach, Think, Do: A Teach-In on Tucson” to stand up if they were from the metro-Atlanta area. Of the more than 170 people who attended the Feb. 4 event, the vast majority stood up.

This exercise continued for a few more questions: A handful stood up when asked if anyone got lost on the way to the COE for the event, a few more stood when asked if there were any students present, and several more stood when asked if any teachers were in attendance. But the final query in the exercise had the entire room on its feet.

“Stand up,” Williams asked, “if you are here today to stand up for liberty and justice for all people.”

The “Teach-In,” coordinated by students, faculty and staff from the COE, Emory University, Clayton State University, Kennesaw State University, Georgia Gwinnett College, Metro Atlantans for Public Schools and the Georgia chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education, was one of many events happening across the U.S. designed to discuss a ban of ethnic studies courses in public schools in Tucson, Ariz., and how it could impact local schools.

To give attendees a firsthand account of the movement to ban Mexican American studies classes in the Tucson Unified School District and to discuss the ramifications of such a movement, the event began with an online panel discussion featuring Norma Isela and José Gonsalez, Tucson Unified School District teachers; Nico Dominguez, Tucson Unified School District student; Debbie Reese, author and consultant on American Indians in children’s literature; and Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post writer and American Book Award-winning author.

While Isela, Gonsalez and Dominguez spoke via Skype about their personal experiences with the ban, Reese and Biggers offered reasons for keeping culturally-specific texts in classrooms.

“I advocate for the use of multicultural literature, and this matters to me because I know that it matters to children to see themselves reflected in the books that they read and the curriculum that they’re being given in school,” Reese said. “I think it’s astonishing that the program in Arizona was showing gains in attendance, grades and graduation rates – the things that we as scholars of literature have been saying literature can do – and to see it shut down is a huge step backwards.”

Following the panel discussion, attendees had their choice of three breakout sessions: One focused on the books censored in Tucson schools, one that offered curriculum and lesson planning strategies and one where participants wrote letters to legislators and other stakeholders around the country. The three groups then came back together to brainstorm ways to continue the dialogue on censorship, curriculum and multicultural education moving forward.

Alyssa Hadley Dunn, COE clinical assistant professor of urban teacher education and the founder of Georgians for Freadom, the newly formed group that coordinated the event, told attendees that she hoped they gained a better understanding of what is happening in Arizona and how to successfully advocate for social justice in local classrooms.

“We are here to stand in solidarity with those fighting in Tucson and around the country,” Dunn said. “It is up to us to understand the issues, to know what we’re fighting against and fighting for, and most importantly, why we are fighting. We hope that today inspires you to teach, think and do more to work for social justice and educational equity in every part of your life.”

February 11, 2012

More coverage in Mundo Hispanico

Check out this story by Johanes Rosello Rivera, who attended our teach-in and spoke with organizers and participants.

February 06, 2012

Teach-in Photos

Here a few highlights from the teach-in last weekend. The full albums can be found here and here.

Guests register at the GSU College of Education. Participants received free materials, a copy of a censored book (Message to Atzlan or Rethinking Columbus), and Georgians for Freadom notebooks and pens.

The opening session featured opening remarks a GSU welcome from Dean Randy Kamphaus, opening marks from Alyssa Hadley Dunn, spoken word by Mari Ann Roberts, a group icebreaker, and a reading of select quotations from censored books.

Virtual guests joined the crowd via Skype. Our guests included two Tucson teachers, Jose Gonsalez and Norma Isela, and a Tucson student, Nico Dominguez. Writers Jeff Biggers and Debbie Reese also provided important remarks. The panel was moderated by Stephanie Behm Cross and Erica Dotson.

During the small breakout session, participants chose between three sessions. The group above engaged in a social justice lesson planning workshop.

Another session focused on legislative action. Participants discussed issues related to educational policy and immigration in Georgia and wrote letters to policymakers, legislators, school administrators, and other stakeholders.

A third option for participants was to discuss one of the censored books in a small group. Different groups were led by members of Georgians for Freadom and supporting faculty and students from GSU. Groups focused on Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Rethinking Columbus, The House on Mango Street, Fire Like Me, Borderlands, and Lies My Teacher Told Me.

The closing general session offered participants a chance to consider ways to affect change within their individual spheres of influence. Everyone was invited to come forward and share their "pledges" and steps for action. The day concluded with closing remarks and a raffle.

Additional photos will be posted soon.
Video is also forthcoming!
Stay tuned!

February 05, 2012

Feedback from Teach-in: What did you think?

We have gathered some initial responses to the teach-in that were posted on our Facebook wall or sent by email. We are overjoyed at everyone's positive responses and commitment to fight for social justice. Here is what some of our attendees (in-person and virtual) said about yesterday's teach-in.

Comments from in-person attendees:

· Great job! Very informative and extremely well-organized!

· It was awesome!!!! Thanks for all your hard work.

· I was so inspired to help with this cause! I met great people and the event was organized very clearly and effectively for such short notice. Good job! I am so glad I was there today.

· What an amazing event--thanks! The speakers were incredible. You all collaborated and mobilized resources extremely effectively and efficiently. I hope we can continue to nourish the seeds that were planted and put an end to the denial of human rights, critical thinking, and the democratic participation of all members of our communities.

· GREAT job today! I am amazed this was put together in just 2 weeks. I left educated and empowered. I pledge to take this information to my school staff, my students, my parents, and friends. Teachers make miracles happen everyday in the classroom...imagine if we actually got organized to make change happen on a broader scale!

· What a wonderful, inspiring event. Many thanks to all that went in it, it was fantastic!

· What a great event! One of my fave quotes of the day was from Jose- I didn't write down the exact quote, but he said if you're doing what you really should be doing as a teacher for your particular kids, you will probably be targeted as "one to watch" to be fired.

· Thank you for providing an amazing workshop that encouraged, celebrated, & supported so many voices!

· Still in the zone from today's teach-in! What a blessing to always be surrounded by folks who are willing to speak truth to power!

· Cointelpro is alive and well in Tucson! Absolutely enraged and inspired from today's teach-in! Stand up, peoples! They're comin' for us yet again!

· In the 90's, when I was teaching and organizing, I re/read Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire and used Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, by Bill Bigelow. I would be an entirely different person today (and not in a good way) had those books not been made available to me. Today, we stand in solidarity with the peoples (la gente!) of Tucson!

· Thanks so much to everyone involved. The TeachIn today made me proud to be a teacher! #thinkteachdo

· Thanks to the Georgians for fREADom for organizing the teach-in today. I am amazed and outraged about the censorship happening in Arizona.

· It was such an inspiring event. Thanks so much to those who initiated, organized, and will keep us informed! :-)

· What an awesome day!! Successful Teach-in on Tuscon event. Looking forward to more events with an awesome group of socially-minded people! =D

· "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

… So pleased with the results of Georgians for fREADom's phenomenal teach-in on Tucson and so lucky to be in the company of caring, committed, and inspiring teachers and activists.

· With two weeks of preparation a group of committed educators and activist create this! Proof that change doesn't necessarily take time...just WILL!

Comments from Virtual Guests:

· Awesome session folks! Hooray for the Teach-in! Here's to many more!

· I watched the event Teach, Think Do: Teach-In On Tucson! on ustream and vow to challenge Georgia's immigration laws that disallow hispanic students from attending colleges in this state due to undocumented citizenship. When they have lived there whole life in America i there parents have work here, and serve as labors for this country I think its a sham. I would also continue to make connections in my curriculum and teaching in the arts to social justice or culturally responsive pedegogy for all communities.

· Great turnout and seriously really great work. I aspire to be academics like you.

· First of all Great Job on your big event on Saturday. I am a student at Columbia University, and am planning events similar to what you have plan. Your organized group was extremely inspiring… As a member in many multicultural groups, I can speak for the group I'm working with about being in solidarity with Georgians for fREADom. We think you all are awesome.