Education Groups Call for 'A Physically and Emotionally Safe Learning Environment'

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Spurred by reports of increased harassment of students who are members of ethic and religious minorities since the election, a number of education organizations have issued a call to action. Most of the organizations are as mainstream as they come: the National PTA, the National School Boards Association and so on.

From Education Week:
The organizations issuing the call to action are: the AASA, the School Superintendents Association; the American School Counselor Association; GLSEN, an LBGT student group; the National Association of Elementary School Principals; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; National PTA; the National School Boards Association; the National Association of School Psychologists; and the National Association of Independent Schools.

"We come together as national education organizations in the wake of the troubling rash of reports of bias incidents and violence occurring in schools across the nation in recent days," the groups said in a statement. "As learning communities, schools and school systems are responsible for providing all students with a physically and emotionally safe learning environment. This principle is the foundation of academic achievement, healthy individual development, and civic engagement. Violence, intimidation, and purposefully harmful expressions of bias undercut the core mission of schools and have no place in our school communities."

The statement applauded the schools and districts "that have already taken meaningful steps to develop and support positive school climate in their communities." It did not list any examples. In recent weeks, districts like Los Angeles Unified have approved resolutions following repeated school walkouts by thousands of students. Those resolutions call for safe and supportive learning environments, and some have made special mention of a refusal to cooperate with possible future federal immigration enforcement.

Many teachers have also made extra efforts to discuss students' fears in the classroom and to use the election as an opportunity to talk about civics issues, such as the separation of powers and civil rights.

The groups' statement asks their constiuents and "all education leaders" to take the following steps:

  •"Publicly reaffirm the inclusive values that are the foundation of healthy learning cultures,"
  •"Lead a conversation with their school community on the core values of respect and inclusion at the heart of all learning; and"
  •"Consider posting a statement regarding these core values throughout their schools and/or all the schools within their district."

"These actions should specifically affirm the right of all students, regardless of race, color, national origin, immigration status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or religion to be educated in an environment free from fear, violence, and intimidation," the statement said. 

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