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Philly teachers plan Black Lives Matter week — not all are happy

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Philly.com

Beginning Monday, the Black Lives Matter movement could become a curriculum topic in classrooms across the city.

A Philadelphia School District teachers’ group has planned six days of action this week, encouraging educators to introduce optional curriculum and activities – from “The Revolution Is Always Now” coloring pages for very young students to a science lesson about the biology of skin color for older ones.  

“This is a critical issue of our time – in our society, but also in our students’ lives,” said Charlie McGeehan, an English and history teacher and member of the Caucus of Working Educators, an activist group within the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. “It’s important for us to dive in.”

That’s not a universal sentiment.

Christopher Paslay, an English teacher at Swenson Arts and Technology High School, said he’s unequivocally for equal rights and justice for all of his students, regardless of race.

But he takes issue with the Black Lives Matter movement and thinks it has no place in Philadelphia classrooms.

“It challenges nuclear families, and our justice system,” Paslay said. “I don’t think kids should be taught that Western society is perpetrating a war on black people.”

The lessons are not mandatory, and in fact not sponsored or sanctioned either by the school system or the PFT. It’s up to individual teachers whether they participate and how, from wearing T-shirts to engaging students in lessons.

That the material may be controversial – even objectionable – to some is not lost on the group, which has encouraged participants to share plans with parents.

The movement has become a shorthand for antipolice sentiment, a notion McGeehan rejects.

“We all deserve fair but critical treatment,” said McGeehan, who teaches at the U School, a high school in North Philadelphia. “I don’t think that Black Lives Matter is antipolice.”

John McNesby, president of FOP Lodge 5 in Philadelphia, said he wasn’t a fan of the idea.

“We don’t agree with it,” he said. “We think there’s a lot better subjects that could be taught.”

But, McNesby said, he didn’t want to make too much of it.

“I don’t think many people pay attention to that group,” he said of the caucus.

Paslay said he didn’t know of any teachers planning Black Lives Matter lessons, and said he thought it was a “fringe thing, but attracting a lot of headlines.”

The organizers want teachers to think about lessons based on the 13 tenets of the Black Lives Matter movement, from empathy and diversity to transgender affirming and unapologetically black.

They’re all important themes in a district where the majority of students are black and brown, McGeehan said. (In Philadelphia, 51 percent of pupils in district schools are black and 21 percent are Latino, according to the district.)

“We have to validate our students’ experiences,” McGeehan said. “Many of my students have had negative experiences with police officers. To ignore that is to deny their reality in a way that doesn’t make sense.”

The caucus is stressing that lessons should be developmentally appropriate; it has offered curriculum resources for elementary and secondary students. Members say the themes can easily be incorporated into Common Core standards.

For teachers unsure how to handle the subject of race, the caucus notes that “issues of race are already present in your classroom,” event organizers wrote.

“You can raise awareness about this omnipresent aspect of our society without triggering conflict or anxiety in your students,” they wrote in organizing materials.

Tamara Anderson, a parent and associate member of the caucus, said Philadelphia’s event was inspired by a recent action in Seattle, when thousands of teachers wore T-shirts and taught lessons as a way to promote racial equity in education.

In Philadelphia, the organizers used the Martin Luther King’s Birthday holiday as a kickoff. They held a happy hour to bring participants together, and plan not just events during the school day but also extracurricular activities – a parent forum, a film screening.

“We need to have these difficult conversations around bias,” said Anderson, whose child attends Hill-Freedman World Academy.

Anderson expects that some families, and some students, may not agree with the movement. It’s OK that people are uncomfortable, she said.

“There’s a lot of things I don’t support for my own child,” Anderson said. “But I know for a fact that my daughter is more of a well-rounded person because she is pushed to ask questions.”

Organizers said they did not have an exact number of teachers who planned to participate.

H. Lee Whack Jr., a schools spokesman, said the caucus’ work is not part of the district’s curriculum.

“However, the district encourages teachers to responsibly engage students around pertinent issues to develop critical thinking skills and a respect for the exchange of ideas,” Whack said in a statement. “The district regularly encourages schools to look to current-event topics for appropriate teaching content that is also aligned with grade-appropriate standards.”

The PFT cannot promote any activity of any caucus within the union, spokesman George Jackson said.

kgraham@phillynews.com

http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20170122_Phila__teachers_plan_Black_Lives_Matter_week_-_not_all_are_happy.html

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10 Responses to Philly teachers plan Black Lives Matter week — not all are happy

  1. Cleatus says:

    I thought these people types would be taking the red pill. Sure enough full on retard prevails.

  2. # 1 NWO Hatr says:

    “I don’t think kids should be taught that Western society is perpetrating a war on black people.”

    Because it’s a lie?

    “However, the district encourages teachers to responsibly engage students around pertinent issues to develop critical thinking skills…”

    BULLSH#T!!!

    Those commie indoctrination centers are SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO DESTROY CRITICAL THINKING!.

  3. RT Hawk says:

    “Anderson expects that some families, and some students, may not agree with the movement. It’s OK that people are uncomfortable, she said.”

    So,,, what Anderson was really saying was, eh, lemme see…….. people are uncomfortable, it’s not OK for people to be uncomfortable, but that it’s OK for people to be uncomfortable, as long as people aren’t uncomfortable, OK………
    …………………………………………….
    I hope no one tells Charlie McGeehan the pool is empty……….

  4. Wade. says:

    My nephew was just car jacked and shot in the chest while my great neice was sleeping in the back seat on Friday night. One more inch to the left and I might be attending two funerals. For the black bastard who shot my nephew, and who thinks whites have certain privileges over you, and you can take away from my family and I !………..BLACK LIVES SPLATTER. Now to all the Black American nationals, this does not pertain to you. But you low life mother Fckr’s of all colors. Get your mind’s right or you are going to be dealt with by Law or by God !My nephew is doing fine except for the gaping wound across his chest. My neice did not know what happened until her dad drove up to the hospital. I do not know how to post pics in these comments, if I did I would show you the carnage.

    • RT Hawk says:

      Wow Wade, very, very sorry to hear 🙁
      Healing energy, may he recover fully and quickly.
      A blessing your niece wasn’t hurt and wasn’t aware until they reached the hospital.
      Keeping your nephew, niece and all of your family in my thoughts.
      My best <3

    • Angel-NYC says:

      Wade,
      I have no words… 😥
      TG that they are alive!
      I don’t know how to post photos in the comments, either (not that they are needed…you’re words were enough…at least for me.)

      Stay Strong, my/our Brother in Arms.
      <3

  5. Wade. says:

    Thanks you guys and girls. I don’t want to come down hard on my black brothers but it was a black punk that almost took my nephew’s life, I just get really upset when I hear this white privilege BS. Does my white truck have privilege over the black asphalt?

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