First issue of Learning for Justice magazine out now

Learning for Justice magazine, a Southern Poverty Law Center project recommended for grades 6-12, has released its first issue.

“Educators, students, their families and commu­nities are joining together to demand truth-telling in schools and to counter decisions that censor dialogue around race and injustice in the classroom,” writes Learning for Justice director Jalaya Liles Dunn in her Perspectives opener.…

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Local 1060’s Toomey talks ‘Off the Page’ book forum

Following the positive feedback from the book club she started in her district, North Bergen Federation of Teachers (Local 1060) President Carol Toomey thought the concept would work well as part of the AFTNJ’s social justice committee.

Hence the creation of “Off the Page, Into the World,” which is open to all AFTNJ members and aims to bring social justice into working spaces.…

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‘Off the Page’ book forums focus on social justice

The AFTNJ social justice committee will hold virtual book forums Oct. 13 and Nov. 16 through its “Off the Page, Into the World” initiative to bring social justice into working spaces.

The book forums will provide a welcoming, nonjudgmental meet-up to exchange ideas on a complex topic, explains committee co-chair Anthony Balzano, a professor of anthropology and sociology at Sussex County Community College.…

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Diversity Dialogue: Building alliances, social justice and the future of unions

By Anthony Balzano

The recent Jane McAlevey book “A Collective Bargain: Unions, Organizing, and the Fight for Democracy” (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2020) acknowledges — although few sources give them credit — how unions fought to defeat a white supremacist candidate and pull Joe Biden across the finish line. This happened while certain politicians incited white nationalist fervor in response to the horrifying execution of George Floyd.…

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Webinar covers building bonds between educators, community

Join Rethinking Schools and the Bargain for the Common Good Network for an online discussion June 8 on building relationships between educators and community and fighting for social justice in education.

To register for “Teacher Unions and Social Justice: Building Power Through Labor and Community Partnerships,” which begins at 7 p.m. ET on June 8, click here.…

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Black educators challenged by ‘racial battle fatigue’

For more than a year, black Americans “have experienced a perfect storm of social and emotional stressors,” and during that time, black educators “have been in the awkward positions of having to create lessons around police violence,” writes Peggy Barmore for The Hechinger Report.

“There’s a sense of angst among black teachers, and they’re losing sleep over it,” Barmore adds.…

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Diversity Dialogue: Curriculum on race and slavery is a problem for certain elites

By Anthony Balzano

Recent news reports show that political and social elites are having a problem with curriculum on race and the legacy of slavery.  

One example comes from the parents of children at elite private schools in New York City protesting against “an obsessive focus on race and identity in schools.” These parents send their children to exclusive K-12 institutions in Manhattan with tuition exceeding $50,000 a year, so-called Ivy League training grounds.…

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Diversity Dialogue: Don’t be idle as our democracy slides toward aristocracy

By Donna M. Chiera

In March, I wrote a blog post on how GOP state legislators realized changing demographics threaten their chances of winning statewide and federal elections. Rather than addressing and adapting their positions to meet the needs of their constituents, they are passing laws to suppress the rights of the voters in these states.…

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Mercy and change are at the heart of Many Threads webinar

Join Leven “Chuck” Wilson, whose credits include being a partner of the AFT’s teacher diversity program, for the webinar “Courageous Conversation: The Art of Listening, Mercy and Change” on April 22 at 4 p.m. ET.

According to the description by co-presenter NYSUT, participants of this Many Threads, One Fabric session will “learn more about the essential art of change as we fight to address the attitudinal and structural barriers behind the persistent racial disparities witnessed in our communities and workplaces.”…

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Rutgers personnel among the speakers at education reform conference

Registration is now open for this year’s Education Reform, Communities and Social Justice Research Conference, taking place via Zoom on June 2, 16 and 30.

Elisabeth H. Kim from Rutgers University in Newark has one of the talks set for June 2 under the collective heading Community Schools, School Safety & Restorative Justice.

As part of the Social Justice & Youth Voices programming on June 16, Marina Feldman, a full-time teaching assistant at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, will discuss the struggle to save the Lincoln Annex School in New Brunswick.…

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Sign up now for SURJ’s anti-racism training

AFT’s New Jersey members are invited to register for anti-racism training sessions scheduled for March 22 and 30 that were developed by the New Jersey chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and Rutgers LEARN.

Each 90-minute session will address white privilege and white supremacy, and participants will learn how to take action in their workplace and community as a first step in committing to anti-racism.…

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Diversity Dialogue: Voter suppression elsewhere really is an injustice for people everywhere

By Donna M. Chiera

In my role as a member of the AFT Teachers program and policy council, I sat through many discussions about charters, privatization and changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The discussions were always about somewhere else, so I listened half-heartedly — after all, I work in New Jersey, a progressive, labor-friendly blue state.…

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AFT, AAUP launch A New Deal for Higher Education

The AFT and the American Association of University Professors on Feb. 10 rolled out an effort that will advocate for prioritizing teaching, ensuring job security and canceling student debt, among other goals.

Dubbed A New Deal for Higher Education, the platform “seeks to recenter our public colleges and universities as a common good” as well as pursue reforms related to racial injustice and inequities, labor practices and other issues, according to its website.…

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Diversity Dialogue: Inside the socially conscious music and mind of Devon Gilfillian

By Chris M. Junior

It’s been common lately for entertainers to capitalize on an awards-show audience by weaving societal commentary into their acceptance speeches.

You won’t hear any of that from singer-guitarist Devon Gilfillian at this year’s Grammy Awards on CBS (recently postponed to March 14 due to COVID-19 cases surging in Los Angeles). That’s because Gilfillian hasn’t been nominated for a golden gramophone — although his full-length debut for Capitol Records, “Black Hole Rainbow,” is a contender in the category Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, but that honor goes to an engineer, not an artist.…

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Diversity Dialogue: Minor’s book shines a light on equity in education

By Elizabeth Govea

In January 2020, back when the world was “normal,” members of my local and some administrators from our schools had the opportunity to attend the AFT’s Center for School Improvement (CSI) Leadership Institute conference for “Transforming Systems to be Culturally Responsive” in New York City. My local president, who attended the conference with me, reached out with the idea of starting a book club with our members, feeling that my passion for topics such as equity in education, social justice, restorative justice and culturally responsive teaching pours out of me and is contagious to all.…

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