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As educators, we must challenge ourselves to stand up for social justice

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by Ashley Muscarella, NEA Student Program Chair

Recently, intolerance has reared its ugly head on a national scale. In lieu of hate and bigotry, we have all the more reason why we must be outspoken about our own core values. As aspiring educators, we know our public schools should be safe spaces where all students, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic background, can have a learning environment that nurtures the mind and encourages exploration and problem-solving.

This is why as a college student and aspiring educator, I am proud to see higher learning institutions around the country take a stand against intolerance and hate.

Several, including Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Michigan State University, Louisiana State University, the University of North Carolina and the University of Florida, have all denied venue requests for the fall semester from Richard B. Spencer, the white supremacist who led the violent Charlottesville protest last month that resulted in the death of anti-hate activist Heather Heyer.

Recent tweet from Richard Spencer regarding a denied request to appear at the Univ. of Florida

We know from a recent tweet, Spencer is not giving up his college tour of intolerance. This is why we must stand together as social justice warriors and activists.

If you are a college student preparing to serve in our public schools or a new or veteran educator, a great way to take a stand and work to build an environment worthy of our kids is to be an active member of your local association. Your union can be a resource to you as a vehicle for social justice advocacy, cultural awareness training, and professional practices that help us become the strongest educators and most-valued community allies.

The next generation of educators, myself included, must be committed to dismantling the racial hierarchy in our country that has allowed groups like Spencer’s to grow. It’s not easy to discuss things like white privilege or socio-economic privilege. But to grow, we must find comfort in the discomfort. We must challenge ourselves to reflect upon our internal biases and external privileges so that we may fight for a better future for our students.

Future educators, like myself, teeter between striving for a better today and setting the example for the future we know our students deserve.

As an aspiring educator, I am a proud member of a generation that is willing to stand up against racial inequality, sexual, gender, and religious discrimination as well as ignorance and intolerance. I know the fight is long, but shying away is not an option for me or my peers. We are the promise of a new and better tomorrow—a future which we must uphold.

10 responses to “As educators, we must challenge ourselves to stand up for social justice

  1. Recently intolerance has reared its ugly head? From a non teacher? Come on, this writer thinks intolerance is something new? But protesting god knows what in schools, and indoctrinating kids to socialism is a good thing? Gimme a break!

  2. Social justice? It took the Stock Market crash of ’29, and the subsequent Great Depression to unify the nation behind social justice, and then Roosevelt’s New Deal was met with vitriolic cries of protest from capitalists who claimed his attempts at balanced capitalism were “socialism,” and”communism!” Sound familiar? But look at the results!
    Social justice sounds like a no-brainer, but the obsticals from moneyed interest are confoundable! We’re all familiar with Citizens United vs The FEC, but right wing think tanks and propaganda outlets like “Free Congress Foundation,” “Heritage Foundation,” “Americans for Prosperity,” etc. have changed the very nature of public discourse until “truth” is a subjective concept. For a further a dress of this topic see “The Integration of Theory & Practice” by Free Congress Foundation’s Paul Weyrich and Eric Heubeck. The tenants of their right wing propaganda manifest would have made Joseph Goebels blush!

  3. Teachers should keep their political views to themselves. Maybe if teaching History early on things would be different. Teaching love and acceptance begins at home. It’s your job to teach, not be a politician! Homeschooling looks better and better…

    1. Homeschool is what insulates students into thinking their parents’ biases are the norm. Do you think the racists out there today learned how to hate from school?

    2. “Social justice advocacy, cultural awareness training, and professional practices” do not make a teacher a politician. I teach at a school where 2600 students speak 42 different languages. I am an advocate for these young people, and if I don’t have the resources to assist a student, I will reach out to those that do.

      1. Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if the school did not admit non English speakers? Then those in attendance would get more attention rather than catering to those who cannot speak the language of this country.

      1. I do keep my political views to myself with my students, but that doesn’t mean I have to keep my political views to myself in my private life. As a citizen, we have the right and responsibility to be involved in our communities and the direction of our country. I applaud college students who are getting involved.

    3. And maybe not pretend it’s an American right to not receive the pledge of allegiance. Exercising a right does not make it right.

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