Students and Social Justice Issues


We must not only work for the rights of teachers, but as teachers, we must active and loud advocates for the needs of our students and our communities. – Amanda Kail, Teacher

 

 The Issues:

Bully-Free

  • Student bullying occurs once every seven minutes. In schools across America, one in three students report being bullied weekly. But while an overwhelming majority of school staff believe that it’s their job to intervene when they see bullying of a student occurring, bullying behavior is still pervasive and isn’t always handled properly.The more educators know about identifying bullying, intervening in a bullying incident, and advocating for bullied students the more likely it is that they will be empowered to contribute to a safe school environment. Click here for resources.

English Language Learners

  • Over 400 languages are spoken by students who are English Language Learners nationwide. English Language Learners comprise 10 percent of the student population enrolled in U.S. K–12 schools—the fastest-growing group of students in our nation’s schools. These students bring a rich cultural diversity to our student populations and communities, but with a language barrier to participation and access in the education system, ELL students are also disproportionately underserved.Unfortunately, these demographic changes haven’t seen parallel changes in the way schools perceive and educate ELL students. Many educators are under-prepared to meet the linguistic and academic needs of ELLs, and many lack the cultural competence to deal with this diverse group of students. At the same time, current school resources are inadequate for providing the training and support ELL educators and students need. Click here for more information.

Immigration

  • A pragmatic approach to immigration is critical for our students –the center of our communities. All students should have the opportunity to learn without the fear and distress that result from unfair immigration policies. Educators are witnessing the impact of this trauma on for our students, their families and our communities firsthand.This is why educators support commonsense immigration reforms that include:
    • Addressing the millions of students and young adults who were brought here as children by their parents.
    • Preserving family unity.
    • Creating a realistic path to citizenship for the aspiring citizens who call America home.

Click here for more information.

LGBTQ

  • LGTBQ students are more likely to face bullying and harassment in school leading to poor grades, dropping out of school and even homelessness. LGBTQ students at the college level also report feeling unsafe and unwelcome.
  • All students and educators deserve to be treated with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Safe and affirming schools are a core element of student success. Click here for resources.

Voting Rights

  • States across the country have passed measures to make it harder for Americans—particularly people of color, the elderly, students, and people with disabilities—to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. These measures include voter ID laws, cuts to early voting, and purges of voter rolls.
  • In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court decision gutted key components of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, whose provisions were remarkably successful in protecting the voting rights of individuals most vulnerable to voter discrimination: communities of color, the elderly, the poor, and those with limited English skills.
  • A vibrant democracy requires expanded participation.
  • It is time for Congress to restore protections of the VRA, which ensure access to the ballot for all voters. Click here for more information.

Opportunity

  • Our schools belong to all of us: the students who learn in them, the parents who support them, the educators and staff who work in them and the communities that they anchor.A student’s chances for success should not depend on living in the right zip code, winning a charter lottery, or affording private school. Every child deserves access to a system of publicly funded, equitable and democratically controlled public schools. When we short-change some students, we short-change our nation as a whole.  If we’re serious about every child’s future, let’s get serious about doing what works. Click here for more information.

Racial Justice

  • Our education system while intended to uphold equal opportunity, often also entrenches disparities by its sheer design.  In July, the NEA passed a resolution to challenge ourselves — 3 million of our nation’s educators — to discuss and fight institutional racism in our schools. We are engaging our members to dialogue and look through a clearer lens when examining policy and practice in our school systems and our communities. Click here for more information.

Ending School-to-Prison Pipeline

  • Zero tolerance and other exclusionary school discipline policies are pushing kids out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system at unprecedented rates. Too many students are lost to our communities this way. Disciplined at disproportionate rates and with heightened severity for minor infractions that used to warrant a trip to the principal’s office, students of color are most impacted.
  • Positive approaches to discipline (also called restorative practices) result in improved school climates and increased educational opportunities. Where implemented well, they work –preserving a students’ opportunity to education, empowering educators with tools to address student issues and connect, and building trust in the school community.
  • When every student has a right to a quality education, to be treated with dignity, and to be provided with the opportunity to learn, students, educators and communities win. Click here for more information.