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May 2016
“I have learned that to teach law or democracy without teaching human rights is vastly inadequate.  Human rights are a value system and a foundation on which law and democracy rests.  Young people must be taught ethical behavior, and human rights are a set of ethical standards that the world has agreed upon” 
~ Edward O'Brien, 
Co-founder of Street Law and and HRE pioneer
To promote human dignity, justice, and peace by cultivating an expansive, vibrant base of support for Human Rights Education (HRE) in the United States.
>> Learn More
>> Steering Committee
Everyone can play a part in promoting HRE in the U.S.
Human rights education resources at your fingertips.
>> Getting Started
>> Find Resources
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>> School-wide involvement


New Coordinator for HRE USA Regional Representatives

Starting in May, Violette Rodriguez Sofaer will coordinate HRE USA’s Regional Representatives, twenty individuals who promote and support our partners and HRE in their respective cities, states, or geographic area. She replaces Nancy Flowers, who will concentrate her activities on building HRE USA's online resource library.

Formerly a Regional Representative for Northern California, Violette has worked as a community educator and human rights advocate for over twenty years.  She has served as Program Administrator for The World As It Could Be Human Rights Education Program and as a Board Member of the United Nations Association-USA East Bay Chapter.  She holds a M.A. in International and Multicultural Education with an emphasis in Human Rights Education and a B.A. in Sociology and Legal Studies from the University of San Francisco. 

>> Become a Regional Representative
There are currently opportunities for a regional representative in the Pacific Northwest and openings for co-representatives in Chicago, DC, the Southwest and the San Francisco Bay area.

For more information, contact Violette Rodriguez Sofaer

Join the HRE Movement!

Become part of the growing Human Rights Education movement in the USA. Join one of the following HRE USA’s organizing committees:
Collaborative Action, Policy and Advocacy Committee
This committee develops, reviews, and undertakes collaborative action projects in conjunction with HRE USA partner organizations. Projects include submitting the first national civil society shadow report on HRE in the US to the United Nations, developing a HRE Curriculum Guide, and actively advocating US states to integrate HRE into new or revised education standards. CAPAC meets by teleconference, for one hour on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 2:00 pm Eastern standard time. Members receive updates about the various projects CAPAC has undertaken, discuss issues relevant to those projects, and explore possible new projects. 
>> Join Now! Email Adam Stone
Partner Growth and Involvement Committee
This committee develops ongoing strategies to engage and grow the involvement of HRE USA individual and organizational partners. This includes outreach to our regional representative groups, management of our HRE resource library, and communication of the many opportunities there are for participation within the network. The Partner Growth and Involvement Committee meets by teleconference for one hour on the 4th Thursday of each month at 5:00 pm Eastern standard time.

>> Join Now! Email Kirby Edmonds

Reminder O'Brien Award nominations Due

Human Rights Educators USA (HRE USA) invites nominations for the 2016 Edward O’Brien Human Rights Education Award. This award recognizes an outstanding contribution to human rights education in the United States.This can be in the form of:

1.  A person or organization that has made a significant contribution to human rights education in the U.S.;

  A material resource (e.g., book, curriculum, video, game, poster, song) and the person(s), institution, or organization that created it;

3.  A practical resource (e.g., methodology, outreach program, degree program, policy initiative); and the person(s), institution, or organization that developed it.

The 2016 Edward O’Brien Human Rights Education Award will be presented in early December during the conference of the National Council for the Social Studies in Washington, DC.

>> Learn more
>> Download Nomination Form
>> Remembering Ed O'Brien (1945-2015)

Send inquiries for nominations to Nancy Flowers

Steering Committee Nominations

Do you know someone, or do you want to join, our steering committee and help shape the future of human rights education?
Our rules call for the election every summer of new Steering Committee members to replace retiring members. This year there are 2 open seats to be filled, and we invite all members to make nominations for their replacements. You may nominate anyone who fits the criteria for membership and can fulfill the responsibilities of Steering Committee members.This invitation includes nominating yourself, should you be interesting in serving! Brief biographies of current Steering Committee members can be viewed here. A ballot will be sent to all HRE USA partners in early July.

>> Learn more
Send inquiries and nominations to Kirby Edmonds, HRE USA co-chair. 

HRE USA at Rutgers Teaching the World Forum 

A number of HRE USA partners presented recently at the Rutgers Teaching the World Forum on April 15th. Bill Fernekes moderated a panel discussion among contributors to the new publication Towards a Just Society: The Personal Journeys of Human Rights Educators that included Nancy Flowers, Abraham Magendzo, Kristi Rudelius-Palmer, Felisa Tibbitts, Cosette Thompson, and the forum’s key-note speaker, Anita Yudkin of the University of Puerto Rico. Also on the program were members of the HRE USA New Jersey Curriculum Integration Guide who presented on their lessons and experiences: Michael Catelli, Sarah Falzarano, Anna Major, Kris Myers, and John Terry.

Left to Right: Nancy Flowers, Dennis Banks,  Menno Metselaar (Anne Frank House),  Felisa Tibbitts, Bill Fernekes, Abraham Magendzo, Anita Yudkin, Cosette Thompson, David Shiman, Sandra Sirota

HRE USA at UPR Town Hall Consultation 

On April 27th, HRE USA participated in a civil society consultation with representatives from the U.S. State Department’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group. Held in the style of a town hall, the consultation focused on the recommendations related to Working Group Six: Treaties, International Mechanisms, and Domestic Implementation and invited civil society organizations to comment on the United States’ domestic implementation of its existing human rights treaty commitments. 

HRE USA spokesperson Rosemary Blanchard pointed out that one commitment that recurs in several of the human rights treaties ratified by the United States is a commitment to educate the people of the United States about the human rights enshrined in these treaties.

HRE USA has asked the State Department to establish a formal relationship with the U.S. Department of Education to better perform its’ treaty-based commitments to teach the people human rights. Read HRE USA’s statement to U.S. State Department's UPR Working Group #6.

Take Action!
Ask U.S. Government to fulfill treaty obligations to provide HRE!

>> Attend a Meeting:  Check out this calendar of upcoming Working Group consultations that are taking place through mid-September. Members of civil society and members of the public are welcome to attend these consultations and provide input on U.S. implementation of the UPR and treaty committee recommendations it has accepted. Learn More.

>> Submit Comments: You can also submit comments to the Working Groups online by emailing

>> Talk to Legislators: Share this HRE USA statement and ask your members of Congress to exercise oversight of U.S. Compliance with its treaty obligations to teach human rights.  Ask them to support appropriations for the sections in recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act that support programs of American history, civics, economics, geography, or government education. And, ask them to support the inclusion of human rights and humanitarian law programs in the educational programs and activities supported by the ESSA.

Let HRE USA know if you have any questions about the HRE USA position or about how to approach your Congressional delegation and share what you hear. We need to start identifying members of the Congress who will help us to bring HRE into the mainstream. For more information, contact Rosemary Blanchard.

California History & Social Science Standards 
Still time to comment on revisions.

HRE USA has commented extensively on California’s proposed History/Social Science Framework revisions that implement California’s History/Social Science standards.  Many HRE USA recommendations for enhanced coverage of human rights education themes in the revised framework were accepted in the draft that went to the Instructional Quality Commission (IOC). Now, however, the California State Board of Education has requested that the full Instructional Quality Commission conduct a final review of the edits to the framework.

The IOC will meet on May 19 to consider the edits and send their final recommendation to the California State Board of Education. HRE USA will be sending additional comments to the IOC, praising the extent to which the H/SS Subject Matter Committee incorporated HRE relevant content areas into the final framework, but also urging the IOC to incorporate more references to the development of International Humanitarian Law, especially the United States’ role in that development, into the Framework.

As more information becomes available, it will be posted to the HRE USA website

>> If you are interested in taking action on this issue, please contact Rosemary Blanchard

Educators Condemn New Anti-LGBT Law

By Sabrina Holcomb, National Education Association (NEA)
Discrimination has been signed into law.

When North Carolina’s General Assembly passed House Bill 2 in an emergency session week before last, it was widely condemned as the nation’s worst anti-LGBT rights bill. Wholesale legislation that eliminated protections for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens had civil rights advocates wondering what century they were in.
Not to be outdone, Mississippi has approved even more sweeping legislation, prompting critics to call House Bill 1523 the most hateful anti-LGBT “religious freedom” bill to date. Civil rights advocates hoping HB 1523 would die on the governor’s desk were horrified when he signed the bill into law this week."

>> Read full article
>> Take Action against discrimination

Where are Asian-American Voice On The School-to-Prison Pipeline?

By Sabrina Holcomb, National Education Association (NEA)

“Mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline have sparked a national conversation on prison reform, but until now, few Asian-American voices have been part of the discussion. Eddy Zheng is working to change that. Zheng became the youngest inmate in California’s infamous San Quentin prison after he was tried as an adult for a home invasion robbery at the age of 16. Sentenced to life with a possibility of parole, Zheng spent the next 20 years in prison.
Determined to turn his life around, Zheng focused on education—his own and fellow prisoners’—as the key to rehabilitation and reconciliation. He earned his GED and associates’ degree; co-edited a literary anthology by Asian and Pacific American prisoners; started the first poetry slam at San Quentin; and tried to launch an API ethnic studies program, for which he was punished with an eleven-month stint in solitary confinement. Today, Zheng is a Soros Justice Fellow and community activist who raises awareness about the immigration-to-prison pipeline and the impact of criminal justice polices on API youth and families.”

>> Read full article
>> Take Action on School-to-Prison Pipeline

Consider This: Does Knowing About The UDHR Matter?

By Sandra Sohcot, Director, The World as It Could Be

Just after the Brussels terrorist attack, I received an email from a friend who worried that fear-mongering, especially directed at specific groups of people, would worsen already challenging situations. He wondered how to infuse more about peace, connection and compassion into the public conversation, a question that resonated with my own thoughts following a recent conversation I had with a group of youth at the REACH Ashland Youth Center as they read the UDHR.

The UDHR came about in response to the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust, providing an internationally agreed-upon set of rights that members of the world community would uphold to foster peace and respect for human dignity.Yet only a small percentage (7%) of the US population knows the UDHR exists!

In the clip above, I note examples of how youth have applied their knowledge of the UDHR to day-to-day situations. 

We’d like to know your thoughts —and those of your friends, family, students, and colleagues — about these issues.

  • How can knowledge of the UDHR help us move public conversation toward finding solutions that include empathy and respect for all human beings, even while dealing with horrific acts committed by some people?
  • How can knowledge of our human rights help us bring about the changes needed to address the gaps in these rights in our immediate communities?
>> Read full blog or send your thoughts now via Email, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram

Freedom from Domestic Violence as a Fundamental Human Rights in Iowa

On the evening of April 5, 2016, the City Council of Iowa City unanimously adopted the "Iowa City Resolution to Recognize Freedom from Domestic Violence as a Fundamental Human Right."  The Iowa City Human Rights Commission voted unanimously to co-sponsor the Resolution. Four posters designed by the Legal Clinic will be placed on city buses and Campuses as soon as the city approves them.

In adopting this resolution, Iowa City has become the first Iowa community to join approximately 26 other city and county governments across the nation that have chosen to recognize domestic violence as a human right. The advocates who introduced those resolutions, many of them members of clinical faculties in law schools, believe that the domestic violence - human rights link is an important one because recognizing freedom from domestic violence as a fundamental entitlement of the human condition does more to acknowledge the seriousness of intimate partner violence than does simply labeling it as a bad, even a criminal, act. The Domestic Violence Intervention Program agreed with that assessment and worked with the Legal Clinic of the University of Iowa Law School to bring awareness to the movement by presenting the resolution to City Council.

Summer Institute for Educators: Teaching Human Rights in a Global Context
June 8-9, 2016

In June, The University of Iowa College of Education, in cooperation with The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, will hold a 2-day workshop on Teaching Human Rights in a Global Context for secondary school teachers, grades 6-12.  The partnership was developed by Andrea Cohen, PhD student in Social Studies/Human Rights Education. Topics include: defining human rights and human rights education, understanding the human rights framework in education, integrating/infusing human rights into curriculum, and how the Museum and its collection provide valuable resources for lessons about freedom, identity, human rights and human dignity. 
FREE tuition for selected teachers
Application Due: May 9th. 
>> Learn more and register
10th International Conference on Conflict Resolution Education 

Building Stronger Communities Through Peace, Justice, and Security

June 8 - 13, 2016
Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio, USA

The 2016 conference builds upon prior conferences in 2004 - 2015 in Ohio and Virginia, which brought together government representatives from among the 50 states and around the globe and their non-governmental organization partners who have legislation or policies in conflict resolution education and related fields. The annual audience includes college/university educators and students, K-12 educators, prevention specialists, and state, local, national and international policy makers.
>> Learn more and register
Speak Truth to Power Summer Programs

  • July 23-30, Los Angeles, CA
  • August 1-5, New York, NY
The Speak Truth To Power Theater Program merges human rights education with social justice theater to address the realities of oppression and create tools for liberation.  
>> Download Flyer

  • June 22, Washington, D.C.
  • July 18-19, July 25, and July 30, Los Angeles, CA
  • July 27-29, Austin, TX
  • August 2-4, New York, NY
The Speak Truth to Power Summer institute introduces participants to Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and the Speak Truth to Power programs.  The institute will deepen your understanding of Human Rights Education and pedagogy through active engagement in learning about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Human Rights Framework.
 >> Download Flyer
For more information about either of these programs, contact Karen Robinson