by Claire Miller
Several College of Education faculty and staff members are working with other colleges and universities across the state to discuss a ban of ethnic studies courses in public schools in Tucson, Ariz., and how it could impact Georgia schools.
On Saturday, Feb. 4, the public is invited to attend a free “Teach-In” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the College of Education, room 150 (30 Pryor Street, Atlanta), where they will find out more about the ban in Arizona and discuss how teachers, legislators and other leaders can respond. Free lunch and materials will be provided.
“Since 2010, there has been a movement in the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona to ban Mexican American studies classes because some critics said those programs encouraged divisiveness,” said Alyssa Hadley Dunn, COE clinical assistant professor of urban teacher education and one of several people organizing the event. “There are people in Arizona trying to fight back because they believe it’s important to teach all students about their cultural heritage and identity. In solidarity with those who believe ethnic and cultural studies are vital to education, we thought it was important to respond at the higher education level because we believe in academic freedom and we prepare teachers to work with ethnically diverse students. We are concerned about the censoring of certain histories, pedagogies and texts.”
Students, faculty and staff from the COE, Emory University, Clayton State University, Kennesaw State University, Georgia Gwinnett College, Metro Atlantans for Public Schools and the Georgia chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education – who have formed a group called Georgians for Freadom in response to the ethnic studies ban – are coordinating this event, which will begin with a general session highlighting the history behind the ban and will break into three sessions aimed at addressing curriculum development, censored books, and legislative action.
The event, co-sponsored by the COE’s Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence, the Department of Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology, the Department of Early Childhood Education and the COE/Professional Education Faculty Diversity committees, will be streamed online and will feature “virtual” keynote speakers, such as Huffington Post writer Jeff Biggers and Tucson teachers and students, who will participate via webcast.
The “Teach-In” will conclude with a wrap-up session to discuss how those working in higher education, PK-12 schools and other community settings can address the issues surrounding the ethnic studies ban.
“After this event, I hope attendees have formed a better understanding of the history of ethnic studies and the ban in Arizona, learned how to teach for social justice in the classroom and found ways to fight for educational equity in their schools, communities and across the state,” Dunn said. “People have really mobilized around these issues.”
To download a flyer for the event, click here.