History (and Fiction) in Context

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Reading has been shown, over and over, to help readers of all ages develop empathy. Here are a couple of things we’ve been reading lately that may help students face the current situation.

As reported by The Atlantic, teachers are using historical fiction to help students put the current moment, and its impacts on various groups of people, in context. “Using Historical Fiction to Connect Past and Present” is worth a read, if only for the titles sprinkled throughout that may come in handy. There’s also a nice take on how teachers can help students make comparisons even if politics is a touchy subject in their classrooms.

And while teachers must obviously be wary of making false equivalencies or grand generalizations, understanding history more thoroughly than what’s offered in, for example, a textbook leads students to an educated examination of current events. For example, referring to possible comparisons with the treatment of Japanese Americans during the internment, Levstik explains the need for teachers to ask: “When somebody says they’re going to lock up people on the basis of their religion, their ethnic background, their point of origin, what does that look like in our history?”

And from New York Magazine, a curated list of books about immigration and refugees. Go check it out.

Soon after Donald Trump enacted his travel ban, the Upper West Side’s Bank Street Book Store posted a photo of front-facing titles to its Facebook page. “Don’t be at a loss for words when explaining to children that the heart and soul of America is to welcome others to our country who need a safe place to make a home,” the caption read. “Books like these help.”

 

Weekend Reading: 2/12

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We’ve been reading a lot this week, and we still feel like we’re playing catch up. Here are a few things that may be interesting–or useful–to educators.

While the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the stay on the administration’s travel ban, you are probably already aware that ICE conducted a series of raids this week around the country.

Here’s some background information, from The Washington Post:

Officials said the raids targeted known criminals, but they also netted some immigrants without criminal records, an apparent departure from similar enforcement waves during the Obama administration. Last month, Trump substantially broadened the scope of who the Department of Homeland Security can target to include those with minor offenses or no convictions at all.

Trump has pledged to deport as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

If you are in the classroom, it’s likely that this is impacting your students, their family members, and their broader community. To that end, here are some resources that you can hand out NOW that may help at least clarify the situation.

Next, not a long read, but an important tool: from United We Dream, Know Your Rights downloadable cards that explain our rights clearly and succinctly are now available in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and English. ALL people in the United States have these rights, regardless of their immigration status. These cards are designed to be used as a guide when interacting with immigration authorities. Below is the English version.

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From The New Yorker, “Teaching Southern and Black History Under Trump,” a look at some of the challenges professors in the South, in largely red states, are facing as they attempt to teach history in the current political climate.

“I don’t know that Trump has historical awareness at all,” Fitzhugh Brundage, the chair of the history department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told me. “He doesn’t display any historical consciousness or depth.” U.N.C.-Chapel Hill is a relatively liberal Southern institution; Brundage described the atmosphere on campus after Trump’s victory as “funereal.” And he said that many of the historians he knows feel their work has become even more critical: “I’ve had any number of colleagues say they feel recommitted and energized to do what they do, because of its very importance now.”

From Think Progress, a short read on how the Department of Justice may be backing off of protections for transgender kids:

As ThinkProgress reported last August, the Obama administration’s guidance “stated that Title IX’s nondiscrimination protections on the basis of ‘sex’ protect transgender students in accordance with their gender identity, such that they must be allowed to use the bathrooms and play on sports teams that match their gender.” But the brief filed Friday signals that the Trump administration no longer wants to implement that guidance.

And, while not education-related, here’s an explainer from Vox about why General Flynn may continue to be at the center of one of the more urgent scandals plaguing the administration. We’ll see if anything comes of this one.

Late Thursday night, the Washington Post reported that Flynn had called Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on December 29, the same day that Obama had slapped new sanctions on Russia in retaliation for its hack of the US election. The conversation covered the sanctions, and, according to two officials, suggested that the Trump administration would be rolling back the sanctions in the future.

That would mean Flynn had been actively trying to undermine Obama administration policy while not yet in office — a big, questionably legal no-no. Indeed, the FBI is currently investigating the content of the Flynn calls.

And finally, welcome to new readers! Our community continues to grow, and we look forward to providing more original educational material as we move forward–while still highlighting the best of what we find on the web.

Have something you’d like to see? Have something you’d like to share? Get in touch this way, or get in touch this way. Or just leave a comment. Hope to hear from you soon!

“Travel Ban” Hearing

An overview of what’s happening at today’s hearing and what might happen next

We’ve been following the court cases opposing the “travel ban” executive order. Now, we aren’t lawyers, but we thought a review of where things stand might interest you, as it did us. Here goes.

Currently, here’s a nationwide “stop” on the order, which the Trump administration is appealing to the 9th Circuit court of appeals in order to re-start the ban. The hearing will be broadcast live today at 3pm Pacific (you can listen here).

Here’s Dara Lind of Vox on what’s happening  at  today’s hearing and what might happen afterward:

  • On Friday, federal judge James Robart… temporarily froze all enforcement of the order’s key parts: a 90-day ban on all entries to the US from people from seven majority-Muslim countries, and a 120-day ban on nearly all refugees…
  • The federal government is asking the Ninth Circuit to lift the freeze as quickly as possible…
  • But it’s unlikely to succeed. The court-imposed freeze will probably be in place for another week or two…

And here’s an overview article from The Guardian about the ban:

What are the basic lines of argument?

In its original complaint, the state of Washington (soon joined by Minnesota) argued: “The order is tearing Washington families apart. Husbands are separated from wives, brothers are separated from sisters, and parents are separated from their children.”

The states argued that Trump’s executive order was “motivated by discriminatory animus” and violated guarantees against discrimination in both the Immigration and Nationality Act and the US constitution. The states further argued that the order violated the constitutional separation of church and state and the constitutional guarantee of due process before the law.

The justice department has countered that the judge’s blocking the order “contravenes the constitutional separation of powers; harms the public by thwarting enforcement of an executive order issued by the nation’s elected representative responsible for immigration matters and foreign affairs; and second-guesses the president’s national security judgment about the quantum of risk posed by the admission of certain classes of aliens and the best means of minimizing that risk”.

What will the appeals court decision mean?

If the appeals court rules against the justice department, the federal government must then decide whether to appeal again, asking the supreme court to weigh in.

But to overturn the lower court, a 5-3 supreme court ruling would be required – difficult math for Trump, in the eyes of most court analysts. The White House might wait to appeal the ruling until Trump’s current supreme court nominee, judge Neil Gorsuch, could be confirmed by the Senate. Or the justice department could shift its strategy elsewhere.

This is all to say it’s unclear what’s coming next, which just adds to the anxiety a lot of us are feeling.

Weekend Reading

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Bear with us–the news is moving fast, and we’re working hard! Check back in soon for posts re. immigration, students’ rights, and Black History Month. In the meantime, here’s some of what we’ve encountered this week.

From the Zinn Education Project, an article in advance of Presidents’ Day. Dr. Clarence Lusane’s post would fit well in a discussion of what is included (or not) when history is written.

One of the presidential slaves was Ona “Oney” Maria Judge. In March 1796 (the year before Washington’s second term in office ended), Oney was told that she would be given to Martha Washington’s granddaughter as a wedding present. Oney carefully planned her escape and slipped out of the Washingtons’ home in Philadelphia while the Washingtons were eating dinner. Oney Judge fled the most powerful man in the United States, defied his attempts to trick her back into slavery, and lived out a better life. After her successful attempt became widely known, she was a celebrity of sorts. Her escape from the Washingtons fascinated journalists, writers, and others, but more important, it was an inspiration to the abolition movement and other African Americans who were being enslaved by whites.

Lida Dianti’s 2016 piece on Black History Month in the Daily Trojan is worth a look if you missed it last year. Dianti makes the case for Black History Month in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In honor of BHM — and seeing that Black History is not taught from a black perspective but a predominantly white one — it is more than appropriate to use the history itself to explain how the past defines the racial injustices of today. There are two fundamental works conveniently left out of all levels of education: Slavery by Another Name and The New Jim Crow — the first, a documentation of the advent of industrial slavery in post-Civil War America and its criminalization of black people into second-class citizenry. At this time, the convict lease system relegated black Americans into forced laborers, imprisoned by the U.S. justice system as encouraged by states, local government, white farmers and corporations until World War II. The latter work traces the narrative of segregation and so-called integration well after the Civil Rights Movement, as seen with the mass incarceration of black Americans as a result of the disproportionate and skewed policing of the war on drugs. Since the 1980s, black Americans have been segregated through legalized discrimination and unfair prison sentences, which resulted in the inability to integrate in society after incarceration.

NPR Books reviews two YA novels that focus on immigration, Melissa de la Cruz’s Something in Between and Marie Marquardt’s The Radius of Us. Both have been added to our reading list.

De la Cruz’s protagonist, Jasmine, is devastated when learns that she and her family are living in the U.S. illegally: “I’m breaking apart, shattering,” she thinks to herself. “Who am I? Where do I belong? I’m not American. I’m not a legal resident. I don’t even have a Green Card. I’m nothing. Nobody. Illegal.”

The truth comes out after Jasmine, a classic overachiever, wins a prestigious scholarship. Like a lot of immigrant kids, de la Cruz says, Jasmine works hard to prove she can succeed in this country. “I wanted to, you know, put this all-American girl who happened to be Filipino … through the ringer. Like, what if you’re head cheerleader, class president, valedictorian — but then, all of a sudden, you’re not that special anymore because of how you came to this country?”

Magda Pescayne may be familiar to you as the woman behind Ask Moxie. These days she’s starting a column on parenting under Trump. Her emphasis on routine and predictability, to the extent that it’s possible, can also apply to the classroom.

Kids need routine and stability. You need routine and stability. In the middle of the world falling down around us, the only one who can provide routine and stability for you and your children is you.

You may be feeling like you can’t keep it together logistically, if things get any worse (and that may be true). You may be feeling like you can’t keep it together emotionally for much longer (or that you aren’t currently keeping it together emotionally). But you have to stick to routines, for your kids and for yourself.

Finally, at Teaching for Change, a little more information on protest for those of us new to it from someone who’s been at it a long time. Bruce Hartford was a civil rights worker for Dr. King in the 1960s, and he has a couple of techniques he’d like to revive.

I’ve recently participated in several protests aimed at building resistance to Trump and Trumpism. But from what I could see, there appeared to be little conscious effort to use those demonstrations as organizing tools in effective ways that were second nature to us back in the bad old days. So I would like to suggest two techniques that I think would be effective today…

Rest up, take care, and let us know what you’d like to see.

Week Two: Resources to Use Now

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There’s a lot going on right now.

As Trump’s first 100 days continue, we will be doing our best to provide resources and materials that can be immediately useful. If there’s something in particular you’d like to see, please let us know.

For today, some background reading and lesson plans.

From EdSurge, a piece about how Social Studies and Civics teachers in particular are scrambling to keep up with the first weeks of the new administration. We recommend clicking through; the article mentions several tech tools that help students understand how the US government functions–or, has functioned up until now.

One of those teachers is Sabrina Brooks, a seventh grade humanities teacher at San Francisco Friends School, who began her class yesterday by having students read and discuss material in Nicholas Kristof’s editorial, “President Trump, meet my family.”

Brooks didn’t have Kristof’s editorial etched into her lesson plans until this weekend, when protests around the country unfolded in response to the travel ban. But it fit with the unit she has been teaching on decision-making in times of injustice. The unit, as Brooks describes, looks at “history of immigration policy marginalization of at risk groups, the factors that led to Hitler’s rise, and the behavior of people who were bystanders and upstanders in these contexts.”

From The New York Times, a lesson plan appropriate for high school and college students, “Analyzing Trump’s Immigration Ban: A Lesson Plan.” The lesson relies mainly on articles but does incorporate video elements that could be skipped if students do not have easy access to tech in the classroom.

Mr. Trump’s executive order fits into a larger pattern of U.S. history. In 1882, Congress excluded Chinese immigrants from entering the U.S. Later it prohibited almost all Japanese immigrants. And still later it gave preference to immigrants from Northern and Western Europe, making it difficult for people from other parts of the world to immigrate to the U.S. But the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 changed all of that. It did away with the national origins quota and banned discrimination based on where a person was from.

However, with Mr. Trump’s pronouncement on Jan. 27, the U.S. once again excludes immigrants based on national origin from countries like Iraq, Yemen and Sudan.

This activity invites students to analyze Mr. Trump’s stated purpose for his executive order (as explained within Section 1 of the text), then consider three pieces in The Times that question its effectiveness, legality and interpretation of American values.

The lesson plan also includes a list of other lesson plans from The Times’ Learning Network that educators may find helpful.

The Times directs readers, finally, to a post over at Facing Today: “3 Ways to Address the Latest News on Immigration With Your Students.” The post is an excellent starting point for any investigation into these issues and policies. The material here is organized around three main points:

  1. Affirm the right to education and respect for all students…
  2. Use the ‘universe of obligation’ to consider how we define our responsibilities towards others…
  3. Put debates about immigration and refugees into historical context.

An added bonus is, strangely enough, the comments section. Teachers who are currently figuring out how to deal with these issues in their own classrooms are weighing in.

More as we have it.