November 18, 2016
A high school lesson plan written by a Mission High School teacher and shared by UESF has garnered a lot of attention over the past few days. The lesson plan was intended to be used to help our students understand and put in perspective the presidential election. UESF stands by the posting and sharing of the lesson plan and the academic freedom of teachers to develop and implement their own curriculum.
As teachers, one of our fundamental roles in the classroom is to ensure the social and emotional wellbeing of our students. Following a bitter and divisive presidential campaign, during which our President-elect made a series of racist, sexist, and xenophobic remarks, many of our students have expressed feelings of fear, intimidation, and uncertainty. To simply ignore or somehow diminish the impact the language on the campaign trail has had on our students would be a grave disservice to them. In fact, there is no better place to have these discussions than a safe space at school.
We cannot state strongly enough that we support the right of our students to form and express their own beliefs. San Francisco students who support the President-elect should be protected from intimidation and fear and their voice should be included in all discussions about the presidential race and the future. Because of the pain caused by the divisive rhetoric, the best way to have these discussions are in safe spaces at our schools. It is appropriate to use a restorative justice model when having these discussions.
Moving forward, we intend to set up a committee of rank-and-file educators, to look at ways that we can develop age-appropriate lesson plans and curriculum that address current events. Regardless of political affiliation, we can all agree that the role of our government and our elected leaders is going to undergo fast and profound changes. If you are interested in participating in such discussions, please email UESF President Lita Blanc at lblanc [at] uesf [dot] org.
UESF is committed to the civil and human rights of all of our students and the communities that we serve. We are ready to vigorously defend any attempts to curtail the rights of immigrants, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, and the rights of women to control their own bodies. We will also stand firm to defend full funding and support for our schools and our vital social services.
UESF is equally committed to defending our rights to academic freedom. Read this statement by UESF President Lita Blanc affirming the right to academic freedom.
We welcome your thoughts about all of these issues and the perspectives of our students, their families, and all San Francisco residents. Please send an email to ask-uesf [at] uesf [dot] org with any comments you might have.
Thank you for all of the work you do and for your ongoing commitment to providing a quality education to our students!
P.S. For an excellent set of resources for educators, students, and families to counter hateful rhetoric and foster positive dialogue, check out this page put together by the National Education Association.