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February 2017

"We are now struggling for a new world which is based on peace, which is based on love, which is based on justice, which is based on accountability, based on human rights." 

~ Tawakkol Karman,
   Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
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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Everyone can play a part in promoting HRE in the U.S.
Human rights education resources at your fingertips.
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Happy Valentine's Day from Human Rights Educators USA

New Lessons in HRE Curriculum Guide

Human Rights Educators USA is pleased to announce the release of five new lessons for the Human Rights Education Curriculum Integration Guide designed to to assist educators seeking to integrate human rights into their curriculum. Each lesson has been reviewed by peers and experts in the field and field-tested with students. 

The lessons use a common template that highlights linkages to Common Core standards (history and social science connections to language arts), and provides assistance in modifying the lessons for students with limited English proficiency and other individual needs.
The entire guide is available for free on the HRE USA website and each model lessons is available to download in word or PDF format.

>> Access the HRE Curriculum Integration Guide
Join HRE USA on LinkedIn

Become part of the HRE USA on LinkedIn and meet your fellow HRE USA members! Join the HRE USA LinkedIn page to:

  • Stay up-to-date on HRE USA activities and events
  • Network and connect with other educators, practitioners, advocates and leaders within the HRE field
  • Exchange ideas and start and contribute to discussions on HRE topics of interest to you
  • Hear about opportunities, jobs, and announcements within the HRE community
Please join and help us make it a dynamic platform for all of us to share!  

>> Join HRE USA on LinkedIn

If you don't have a LinkedIn account, you can create a new one here. Then simply login and search for, “HRE USA” and join. 
Meet Harry Lawson

By Nancy Flowers

Harry Lawson, the newest member of HRE USA’s Steering Committee, brings rich experience, political insight, and a remarkable gift for words to our work for human rights education. Born in Harlem, Harry had parents who put a high priority on education, especially his mother, a teacher who saw that he and his sister “had more homework from home than from school.” She made sure he attended good public secondary schools and challenged him to leave the familiar world of New York City to attend Howard University.

Harry graduated from Howard with a degree in education and a minor in history. He served as a special education instructional assistant for several years before he went back to school to complete a Masters in Social Work. He remembers these two years of study as also a time to “work on myself.” As a second year MSW candidate he served as an intern at the National Low Income Housing Coalition and joined the staff following his graduation under the supervision of a fellow social worker, Sheila Crowley. 

For the past twelve years Harry has worked at the National Education Association (NEA), starting off as a field organizer. He recalls this as a time when “I took any assignment that came along,” including stints in Idaho, West Virginia, the Texas border, and Las Vegas.  Now as the new director of NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Department, he wants to “put the human back into human rights” making them relevant to everyone’s daily experience where they live and work. 

Harry Lawson has encouragement for those who regard public education as a cornerstone of democracy and anticipate with dread the new Secretary of Education who has no experience of public schools and advocates charter schools and publicly funded vouchers for private schools. He resurrects the old saw “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” and advises educators to choose the issues that matter most in their own lives: “We may not find many victories at the Federal level, but local communities can achieve real results.” He cites examples of NEA members who on their own initiative have joined together to oppose discriminatory policies targeting transgender students and undocumented students. This approach recalls Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous words about where human rights begin: “in small places close to home … Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.”

Harry Lawson joins HRE USA’s Steering Committee at a time when his vision and experience could not be more needed!

Protect Education in Public Schools 

>> Oppose Private School Vouchers
At a time of limited funding for existing education programs, it is unthinkable to divert billions of dollars to vouchers or similar privatization schemes instead of helping the tens of millions of students who attend our public schools. Vouchers don’t even create choice for parents, but rather choice for private schools — they can reject students based on economic status, academic achievement, disability, or even gender. Tell Congress to invest in strong and inclusive public schools that ensure all students have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of ZIP code.

>> Educate Betsy DeVos About the Value of Public Schools
Tell Betsy DeVos why public schools are worth fighting for. If you work in a school, educate her about the challenges of the job. Tell her what issues your students face outside of school that affect them in the classroom, and what she should do to help now she has been confirmed as Secretary of Education.

Submit HRE Proposals for NCSS 2017 

The Human Rights Education Community of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) invites HRE USA members and friends to submit proposals for the NCSS 2017 Annual Conference to be held in San Francisco, CA from November 17-19, with pre-conference programs Nov 15-16.

The theme is "Expanding Visions/Bridging Traditions" with multiple sub-themes that provide ample opportunity to feature human rights education in pre-conference clinics, workshops, and sessions. Let's show the NCSS family of educators how vital human rights centered learning and teaching can be! 

The deadline for proposals is February 27

>> Register for NCSS 2017
>> Submit a proposal

Facing History Together Student Essay Contest

Facing History and Ourselves is thrilled to announce the 2017 Facing History Together Student Essay Contest. Inspired by a powerful quote from the late Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate, this year's essay prompt asks students to reflect on what story, book, or person has influenced their thinking about ethical decision making.

Looking for ways to bring this contest to your classroom? Explore these ready-to-use lesson plans that will help you engage your students with the prompt and get them ready to write. 
Deadline for submissions is March 15

>> Learn more

Restoring Dignity in Public Schools: Human Rights Education in Action 

Book review by Nancy Flowers
As the title suggests, Restoring Dignity in Public Schools asserts as essential  “an approach centered on the dignity of students and teachers,” which the author , Maria Hantzopoulos, considers a defining principle of HRE. She argues that HRE must be “threaded into the fabric of all aspects of curriculum and school life.” and contends that HRE can “serve as a form of academic (re)socialization by motivating young people to stay and do well in school." Hantzopoulos supports these claims with quotations from extensive interviews with students, alumni, and teachers and with her own observations of the school, both as a former teacher and a researcher making site visits. 

>> Read full review
Human Rights 101
Human Rights 101 provides a concise and accessible overview of human rights in just sixteen pages including:
  • The universality and moral foundations of human rights
  • The UN human rights system
  • International humanitarian law
  • Regional human rights systems
  • The role of NGOs in advancing human rights
  • The role of the USA in human rights
Written by HRE USA partner Professor Sam McFarland for his human rights course and published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, this FREE primer is ideal for teachers and high school students alike. 

>> Download resource
HRE Indicator Framework

How do we know if and how governmental bodies are meeting their human rights education commitments as enshrined in international frameworks and standards? HRE 2020, the global coalition for HRE (of which HRE USA is the North American representative) has produced an extremely useful manual that provides indicators to examine the presence and quality of HRE policies and practices. For example, a review of HRE should be included in every required reports our government makes to UN treaty bodies on how the USA is meeting its legal obligations to the treaties it has ratified.

This FREE user-friendly manual gives explicit guidance for evaluating HRE in national planning, the formal education and informal sectors, as well as training for law enforcement, military personnel, civil servants, health workers, social workers, journalist and other professionals.

HRE USA Discussion Series

When: February 23, and March 30
Time: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Where: Amnesty International USA, 5 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York NY  10001

Human Rights Educators USA invites you to three interactive sessions in 2017 to identify the most pressing human rights issues we are facing today, discuss integrating human rights into our practice in the post-Obama era, and plan for specific areas of application and action. Each discussion session will be co-facilitated by HRE USA members, Felisa Tibbits, Scott Hirschfeld, Sandra Sirota, Kristina Eberbach, and Rebecca Norlander.  Please RSVP as space is limited.


California Council for the Social Studies Conference

When: March 2-5
Where: Double Tree Hilton, Sacramento, CA 

Human Rights Educators! Come to the CCSS Conference and learn about how the new History and Social Science Framework can be applied to teach about human rights with these great sessions:

Thursday, March 2
10:00-4:30: The New History-Social Science Framework Rollout 

Friday, March 3
2:15-4:30: Implementation of the History–Social Science Framework

Friday, March 3
2:15-3:15:  Ever Heard of Clara Foltz? Civil Rights in CA History 
2:15 -3-:15:  Housing Discrimination as a Cause for Racial Isolation 

Saturday, March 4
2:15-4:30: The World As It Could Be: Arts-Based Teaching of UDHR
3:30 – 4:30: Teaching Human Rights Within the New Framework 

>> Learn More and Register

Voice of Witness Oral History Training

When: June 27-30
Time: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Where: Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 

Interested in storytelling? Join Voice of Witness for their seventh annual Amplifying Unheard Voices Oral History Training from June 27-30, 2017 in San Francisco.

This unique four-day training highlights the power of personal narrative and provides educators, storytellers, and social justice advocates with the tools to conduct oral history projects in their classrooms and communities. In an effort to be as inclusive as possible, they offer a sliding scale rate for tuition. 

>> Learn more and register