Wednesday, July 6, 2016

How Can Teachers Be Part of Sept 9 Solidarity Events?

Given the timing of the September 9 events, so early in a school semester, it will be a challenge for teachers to make a concrete commitment to participation.  However, there are some opportunities for teachers to make a maximal contribution to the efforts. 

Already, the statewide chapger of the teachers activist organization Bad Ass Teachers Association (BATS) has written a statement supporting our efforts.

The following is a proposed set of actions for teachers of BATS, and NEA and AFT locals, as well as individual justice motivated teachers to participate in the September 9th Solidarity with the Incarceratd and Enslaved, in support of the Multi-State Prison Shut Down:

·         A letter sent to the BATS membership and to allied teachers union, including the state chapter and locals, and any other activist teachers in NJ (and beyond) including the BATS statement and a set of suggested actions, including issuing their own statements of support.
·         Dedicating the week of September 9 to September 16 to this solidarity effort.  Teachers should try to set up activities for other teachers and for students – either during study periods, after school or activity periods or lunch (whatever the tradition at your school is).  The activities should be educational and topical with a presentation by either a teacher in the school knowledgeable on the topic or an outside speaker.  The activity should be widely promoted and any appropriate student clubs be invited to assist in the outreach.  The 13th. Amendment exemption clause and the enslavement of incarcerated should be discussed.  Discussion should be encouraged about the problem and solutions.  If any students decide they want to try to organize a club around the issue that should be encouraged and participating teachers should offer to be faculty advisor.
·         Develop a curriculum for Decarceration and ending of incarcerated enslavement.  An effort to advocate for the inclusion of the curriculum in the state curriculum cab be initiated.  Meanwhile, the curriculum should be published at a website dedicated to teachers interested in the Decarceration issue and students should be made aware and if interested their embracing of the curriculum should be supported.  Below are some potential resources from a simple search.  However a curriculum should be comprehensive.
·         Education to youth should include helping them steer clear of incarceration.  That does not only mean avoiding crime but teaching legal knowledge as to how to handle one self around police.  This is particularly needed given the growing presence of police in the school system.  Schools are obligated to help their students avoid prison terms and criminality,  Legal workshops and written materials and links should be made available to the youth through the abovementioned activities and through the student groups that embrace this effort.  See:
·         Create a “contest” for students across NJ to participate in support of the September 9 initiative.  Entries should be accepted from now until September 16.  They should include any measure of support for the demands to end enslavement and to Decarcerate and otherwise support the struggles of the incarcerated.  Some of the ways to participate can include the following (the contest would not be competitive - everyone that participates is a winner.  Perhaps the prize could be a music CD with decarceration music on it.)
A.      Painting, drawing, poster representation or other visual representation.
B.      An opinion piece, article, poetry, song
C.      A musical performance.
D.      Participation in any event calling for Decarceration or an end to enslavement.
E.      Write a letter or letters to incarcerated.
F.       Providing any measure of support including petitioning, making a flier, spreading the word about events or even organizing an event.
G.      Other activities in support

This is just a starting proposal.  Hopefully BATS members and other teachers can offer some additional ideas that can be incorporated into this plan.  To offer feedback – call or text 908-881-5275.

Some Curriculum Resources

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