Educators striving to ensure their schools are welcoming to all students as the nation continues to struggle with xenophobia and anti-Muslim bias will find an array of strategies to combat Islamophobia and be an advocate for immigrant and refugee students in the latest issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance magazine, released this week.
The Spring issue offers a guide for educators and school support staff – adults who often witness the hardships and biases immigrant and refugee children encounter on a daily basis. The magazine also examines how a school’s anti-hate and anti-bullying policies aren’t enough in the fight against Islamophobia.
“Anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim attitudes can take a devastating toll on students,” said Maureen Costello, Teaching Tolerance director. “Teachers and administrators can make a dramatic – and positive – impact on the lives of these students by being an advocate for them and ensuring school policies and practices make it clear that their school is an accepting place for all students.”
The feature “Immigrant and Refugee Children: A Guide for Educators and School Support Staff” provides a wealth of information about immigration policies, the rights and responsibilities of educators and the steps they and their communities can take to ensure the safety and well-being of immigrant and refugee children.
The information is particularly important for educators as the immigration policies of the new president could have a dramatic impact on students who are undocumented or are among the 4.1 million U.S.–born children living in mixed status households with at least one undocumented parent or family member. The feature was adapted by Teaching Tolerance from a guide originally published by the American Federation of Teachers and its partners, United We Dream’s Dream Educational Empowerment Program, the National Immigration Law Center and First Focus.
“Expelling Islamophobia” looks at how the most effective way for schools to combat Islamophobia is to address anti-Muslim bias specifically and emphasize religious literacy. It also notes how school district leaders across the country are recognizing that religious literacy makes schools safer for everyone.
The theme of welcoming schools can also be found in “Controlling the Student Body,” which explores how school dress codes can do more harm than good when they inadvertently favor certain ethnicities and races or target other identity characteristics such as gender.
Another feature, “Students Speak” shares the advice students across the country offered President Donald Trump. Teaching Tolerance mailed more than 1,000 of the students’ submissions to him. The students’ advice, which often encouraged Trump to choose his words carefully and to use the power of the presidency to better the country for everyone, demonstrated that students are listening closely to him and care deeply about what the next four years means for the country.
Other topics explored in this issue include how learning about slavery can teach us about ourselves, a look at how a Latina civic empowerment program transformed an elementary school’s students and an interview with journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones about why so many students still attend segregated schools.
Teaching Tolerance magazine, published three times a year, is the nation’s leading journal serving educators on diversity issues. It is distributed free of charge to more than 410,000 educators nationwide.