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HRE USA NEWSLETTER                                                                 November 2015
To promote human dignity, justice, and peace by cultivating an expansive, vibrant base of support for Human Rights Education (HRE) in the United States.

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Kristi Rudelius-Palmer to be awarded Inaugural Edward O'Brien HRE Award

Kristi Rudelius-Palmer of the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center will be the recipient of HRE USA's inaugural 2015 Edward O’Brian Award for Human Rights Education. Established in memory of Ed O’Brien, pioneer human rights educator, the O’Brian Award honors an outstanding contribution to human rights education in the United States.

The award will be presented by Scott Hirschfeld of the US Committee for UNICEF on November 13th, 2015 during the HRE Community Reception during the National Council for the Social Studies Conference in New Orleans. The event is open to the public. Please join us to help congratulate Kristi Rudelius-Palmer!

>> Learn More about the award 

Friday, November 13

Time: 4:00 - 5:30 pm
Where: Fulton Room, Marriott859 Convention Center Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70130

HRE Community at NCSS

Please meet up with HRE USA members and the NCSS HRE Community at the NCSS Annual Conference in New Orleans November 13 - 15.  Human Rights is a theme of the NCSS Conference this year and there will be many exciting opportunities to learn from HRE practitioners -- teachers, researchers, dreamers.

The HRE Community has some special events planned for New Orleans:

  1. HRE Community Meeting
    Friday, November 13 from 2:15 to 3:05 in the Julia Room at the Marriott Hotel. Come and help us plan the next steps for the HRE Community and meet social studies colleagues with a passion for human rights
  2. HRE Community at NCSS Community Showcase
    Friday, November 13 from 12:00-2:00 and Saturday, November 14 from 12:05-2:15 in the poster session area of the  exhibit hall. The Community Showcase gives conference attendees the opportunity to learn about the various NCSS Communities, to meet Community leaders and to pick up our materials. This is also a great time to introduce the HRE Community to your colleagues and encourage them (and YOU if you haven't done it yet) to join the NCSS Human Rights Education Community.  It's easy to do and free with your NCSS membership.

  3. HRE Community Scholar Speakers
    Saturday, November 14 at 2:40 pm in Room 210 at the Convention Center.  Andrea McEvoy Spero and Susan Katz will discuss their recent book, Bringing Human Rights Education to US Classrooms (Palgrave McMillan, 2015) and share with us examples of effective human rights education in elementary, middle and high school settings.
  4. HRE Community Reception and Presentation of Ed O'Brien Human Rights Award
    Saturday, November 14 from 4:00-5:30 pm in Fulton Room at the Marriott. The reception will be held following the Community Scholar presentation. There will be refreshments, light snacks and a no-host bar. Come and mingle and get to know the community of human rights educators within NCSS. During the reception, HRE USA will award the recipient of the first Edward O'Brien Human Rights Educator Award (see above). 
  5. HRE at NCSS 2015 Guide
    As you are filling out your schedule of "can't miss" presentations and programs at NCSS New Orleans, please check out this guide to the human rights-related presentations, prepared for us by Dr. Glen Mitoma and the students and staff from the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut.
 >> Conference information and registration.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Advocate for Positive Discipline Policies

"What the Spring Valley Confrontation Teaches Us About School Discipline“  

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The video of a school resource officer’s violent takedown of a 16-year-old girl sitting at her desk has ignited new concern around school discipline policies that criminalize nonviolent behavior, particularly the conduct of students of color.

The video was a stark reminder that the statistics and stories we hear about student suspension and arrest rates are about real children. 

Multiple factors contributed to the escalation of this incident from a cell phone infraction (the student pulled out her phone in class) into a national controversy about discipline, race, and the societal factors that cause some students—and adults—to act out.”  

>> Read more

Help keep more kids in the classroom by advocating for positive discipline policies.

Write for Rights

Amnesty International USA invites you and your students to join Write for Rights, our global human rights letter-writing project focusing on 12 specific cases of human rights abuses around the world. Write for Rights frees prisoners of conscience, protects human rights defenders, and spreads hope.

Amnesty International USA has created an Educator’s Guide, focusing on 5 cases including girls forced into marriage in Burkina Faso; a journalist imprisoned in Uzbekistan; and Albert Woodfox, subjected to over 40 years of solitary confinement in Louisiana. By learning about these 5 cases and writing letters to help end these abuses, students will gain an introduction to human rights, effective letter-writing skills, and feel empowered knowing that their words can make a difference around the world. Participate from now through December! 

>> Download Educator's Guide
>> Learn More 

Push Congress to Finish ESEA Authorization

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Attention members of Congress: You've come really far on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Please finish the job so schools don't have to live under the very outdated and pretty much universally despised No Child Left Behind Act (aka the current version of ESEA) for yet another school year.

That's the message ten big-name education organizations representing teachers, school administrators, principals and state officials are taking to Facebook, Twitter, Politico, and other media through a weeklong digital ad campaign.

Here's a quote from the ad: "Please pass a final bill that focuses on opportunity for all students, no matter their ZIP code. Great progress has already been made on this legislation. We can't let it slip away. Our students cannot wait any longer for a revised law."

The groups include: the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the Association of School Business Officials International, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National School Boards Association, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National PTA, and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

And when it comes to ESEA reauthorization, at least lately, these groups often get their way. Earlier this year, when it looked like the Senate version of the bill might be stalled, they wrote a letter to Senate leaders asking them to move the legislation forward, and then it was scheduled for a floor debate. And in July, they asked Congress to get going on negotiations to reconcile the two bills—and got their wish.

Quick refresher: ESEA reauthorization has been stalled since 2007. But earlier this year, the Senate overwhelming passed a bipartisan bill to rewrite the law, and a GOP-only measure barely skated through the House

This fall, the staffers for all four key lawmakers working on K-12 issues—Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., and Bobby Scott, D-Va.—have been putting in long hours to try to negotiate a deal that can make it through both houses of Congress and be signed by President Barack Obama, ideally by the end of the year.

Big issues under discussion have included finding the sweet spot on accountability, figuring out how many and which programs should stay in the law (including whether there should be a pre-kindergarten program), and deciding just how much power the U.S. Secretary of Education should have. More here.

Palisade Charter High School - Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities 

More than 40 student leaders, teachers and administrators discussed the first draft of the Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities at Palisades Charter High School, in Pacific Palisades, CA. Using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, participants are taking a human rights-based approach to identifying their rights and responsibilities. Students are soliciting feedback from the entire school community, meeting weekly to continue the development of the Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, and hope to have the school vote for ratification by the end of the academic year.

Prior to the meeting, every student on campus took the "Taking the Human Rights Temperature of Your School" survey to look at campus culture through a human rights lens. Response to survey questions ranged from a high of 87% of their student body believe their school community welcomes students, teachers, administrators and staff from diverse backgrounds and cultures, including people not born in this country, to a low of only 50% believe someone accused of wrong-doing is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The survey provides a road map for their work developing the student generated document.

(For more information about the Palisades Charter HS survey, contact Kristin Ghazarians)

Call for Participation in AIUSA HRE Thematic Coordination Group

Amnesty International alums are in the early months of rejuvenating the AIUSA Human Rights Education Thematic Coordination Group.

They are looking for human rights educators interested in becoming full participants in the AIUSA planning process so that every case, every event, every consular visit and even every fundraiser, have an explicit multi-age human rights education component including such events as movie openings, ten-K races, art shows, death penalty execution vigils, and especially AI's International "Write for Rights" Annual Global Writeathon during the December celebration the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

If you have been active in AIUSA in the past and feel you'd like to join the effort to rebirth human rights education in AIUSA, please email Ellen V. Moore at to get added to the list of like-minded AIUSA-alums and stay updated on progress toward a Human Rights Education Thematic Coordination Group in AIUSA.

Radical Teacher: HRE Issue 

Radical Teacher, founded in 1975, is a socialist, feminist, and anti-racist journal dedicated to the theory and practice of teaching. It serves the community of educators who are working for democratic process, peace, and justice. The magazine examines the root causes of inequality and promotes progressive social change.

They publish articles on classroom practices and curriculum, as well as on educational issues related to gender and sexuality, disability, culture, globalization, privatization, race, class, and other similar topics. 

Their latest volume, Radical Teaching About Human Rights looks closely at such issues as empowering marginalized students, resistance and social justice, history and humanitarian interventions, and Counter-Narratives of Human Rights in Black Women’s Fiction.  

>> Download Radical Teacher Journal