With school budgets tightening across the country, Southern Poverty Law Center staff are racing to meet an extraordinary demand for the free resources Teaching Tolerance offers educators. And thanks to generous donations from Center supporters, every request is fulfilled.
In just the last three months of 2005, the Center's fulfillment department has processed more than 130,000 orders for Teaching Tolerance materials. The number far exceeds any total for a three-month period in Center history.
The orders are coming in for a variety of new and traditionally popular Teaching Tolerance materials:
• On November 15, an estimated four million students participated in Mix It Up at Lunch Day. In order to support teachers at the 9,000 schools participating in the program, Center staff filled more than 18,000 orders for materials related to the ground-breaking program.
- In just the first four months of its release, more than 30,000 educators have requested One Survivor Remembers, the Center's newest teaching kit. Developed around the Academy Award-winning documentary of the same name, the kit uses the powerful story of Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein to illuminate for students the dangers of hatred, extremism, prejudice and bigotry.
- More than 32,000 of the new One World Poster Sets have been shipped. The set includes 10 classroom-size, full-color posters, a teacher's guide and is designed to help students think about their responsibilities to one another.
- One of the largest increases is the demand for the Center's Academy Award-nominated documentary Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks. Teachers across the country turned to the video and accompanying kit as the 50th anniversary of Parks' heroic stand on December 1, 1955, approached. More than 20,000 teaching kits have been delivered to classrooms since September. That's in addition to the 42,000 Rosa Parks kits that were distributed in the first year of its release.
- The second video in the Mighty Times series, Mighty Times: The Children's March, has also been in high demand since its release in January. The special teachers' edition of the Academy Awardý-winning film, requested by 70,000 educators since it became available, tells how the young people of Birmingham, Ala., braved fire hoses and police dogs and brought segregation to its knees.
As the teaching kits hit the schools, the feedback from teachers is overwhelming. One teacher wrote to say how effective the materials have been in the classroom.
"I have never been let down by the resources from Teaching Tolerance magazine, and [The Children's March] was no exception," the teacher wrote. "Thank you for helping me show my students how even people their age have changed society throughout history."
Another thanked the Center and its supporters for the free resources.
"I simply cannot believe you are able to offer [Teaching Tolerance] for FREE since it is entirely more valuable than the most of the resources I pay for. Please know that by supporting me as a teacher, you are touching the lives of [the students] in my care."
In turn, hundreds of Center supporters have shown their thanks for the work the teachers are doing in the classroom.
In addition to making donations to the Center, many signed an open letter to America's teachers. The letter, sponsored by the Center, thanked the nation's educators for the work they are doing to teach tolerance and create safer schools.
Many supporters added their own personal words of thanks to America's teachers.
"Thank you for inspiring hope into our most precious future," one wrote. "With your help, the next generation will become leaders in healing the world of bigotry, extremism, sexism and greed. You hold the future in your hands."