As state lawmakers continue to introduce legislation that would limit how schools can teach about racism and sexism, some teachers are pushing back and speaking out.
This past weekend, educators in more than 50 cities held in-person and virtual events pledging to “teach truth”—in other words, to continue teaching about oppression and injustice in the face of new laws that they believe attempt to stifle these kinds of discussions.
These rallies and teach-ins are an initiative of the Zinn Education Project, a resource for teachers coordinated by the nonprofit organizations Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change. The group provides free lessons and materials aligned with historian Howard Zinn’s approach to teaching history—foregrounding the perspectives of people whose stories have been marginalized or ignored in dominant narratives.
Teachers who use this approach fear their work will be threatened by the recent pushback to classroom discussions of historical and present-day racism. Over the past year, 27 states have introduced bills or taken other steps that would restrict how teachers can discuss race. Twelve states have enacted bans on such classroom discussions, either through legislation or other avenues.
The laws aim to discourage teachers from making race or gender salient in conversations about power and oppression. And they target the kinds of diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings that many schools adopted amid last spring’s protests against police brutality, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020.
More than 6,500 educators have signed the Zinn Education Project’s pledge to “teach truth” in response to these laws. “We the undersigned educators will not be bullied. We will continue our commitment to develop critical thinking that supports students to better understand problems in our society, and to develop collective solutions to those problems,” the pledge reads.
Source: Ed Week