March 9, 2009

101 Tools for Tolerance

Please take advantage of all that the teaching tolerance website has to offer. Here is just a short snap shot of one of the great resources that is available to help us connect issues we are passionate about to our schools

Tools for Tolerance: Ideas For Your School:

41. Donate tolerance-related books, films, magazines and other materials to school libraries. Organize a book drive.

42. Buy art supplies for a local school. Sponsor a mural about the cultural composition and heritage of your community.

43. Volunteer to be an advisor for a student club. Support a wide range of extracurricular activities to help students "find their place" at school.

44. Coach a girls' sports team. Encourage schools to provide equal resources for boys' and girls' athletics.

45. Sponsor a conflict resolution team.

46. Ask school counselors what resources they have for supporting gay and lesbian youth. Offer additional materials if necessary.

47. Assess your school's compliance with the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Organize a class project to improve compliance.

48. Donate a tape recorder to a school that is conducting oral history projects. Suggest a focus on local struggles for civil rights.

49. Start a pen pal program. Get students in touch with people in different parts of the community, country or world.

50. Applaud the other team. Promote good sportsmanship and ban taunting.

51. Encourage schools to go beyond the "heroes and holidays" model to develop a rich, ongoing multicultural curriculum. Give Teaching Tolerance materials to educators in your community.

52. Provide confidential methods for students to report harassment or bullying.

53. Encourage school administrators to adopt Internet-use polices that address online hate, harassment and pornography.

53. Discourage the use of divisive school emblems.

55. Ensure that schools comply with the McKinney Act, the federal law mandating educational services for homeless children.

56. Create a bilingual (or multilingual) calendar highlighting school and community activities.

57. Invite bilingual students to give morning greetings and announcements on the PA system in their home languages.

58. Make sure that school cafeterias offer options for students and staff with dietary restrictions.

59. Celebrate "Someone Special Day" instead of Mother's Day or Father's Day. Keep adoptive and foster students in mind when planning family-oriented programs.

60. Ask schools not to schedule tests or school meetings on the major holidays of any religious group. Develop a school calendar that respects religious diversity.

March 8, 2009

Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers is an organization that works to stop the use of recruitment and use of children as spies and soldiers for many of our worlds poorest countries. Organized in May of 1998, the organization works in Africa, Asia, Latin America and throughout the Middle East to recruit members to lead the fight against the disgrace that is child soldiers. It's ultimate goal is to establish laws in every nation that would prevent the use of children for any military purpose.

In October of 2008, the coalition celebrated a victory when then President George W. Bush signed into law the Child Soldiers Accountability Act, which allows the U.S. to prosecute any American who knowingly recruits anyone under the age of 15 for military purposes, even if that child is outside the United States. It also allows for the deportation, or denial of entry, for anyone who has recruited anyone age 15 or younger for military purposes.

While the coalition may be celebrating this victory from last October, it is clear that it was not enough. If the United States is just now getting around to address this issue on her soil, there is clearly some work to do abroad. Despite near universal condemnations, the use of tens of thousands of children for military purposes still remains.
The movie "Blood Diamond" starring Leonardo DeCaprio shows Hollywood's take on the epidemic, but the reality is far worse. Visit the sites below for images, facts, stories, and read the 2008 child soldiers global report. Hear the words of child soldiers themselves and see what you can do to help. If you are fortunate enough to teach geography or global studies, take your students to the coalitions website and educate them about the crises.