California Educator

May 2015

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P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y S C O T T B U S C H M A N "Their reaction was anger," says Brown, Inglewood Teachers Association. Students at Inglewood Continuation High School can relate to Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice — three unarmed African American males whose lives were tragically cut short. Most are students of color, and according to Brown, many have been stopped by police for wearing hoodies and baggy pants — or being black or brown. "These events are tragedies, but they are also teachable moments," says Brown. "I weave them into my lessons. One of the great ways we discuss race in this country is by looking through the prism of the Declaration of Independence, which says all men are created equal and entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And my students are asking why white students have In the wake of Ferguson, classrooms take up the matter of race by Sherry Posnick-Goodwin better resources and better schools, and are not arrested or traumatized to the extent that children of color are." Brown is not alone. Other teachers are weaving tragic events into history lessons and classroom discus- sions to help students grapple with confusion and anger. They are discussing race, inequity, police tactics, poverty, social justice and racial profiling. Students in David Brown's history class don't al- ways keep up with the headlines. But they were well aware that Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was killed by a police officer in Fergu- son, Missouri, and that a grand jury voted not to indict the white officer who shot him. When young people talk about race and inequity, says David Brown, "they don't feel as powerless and they can advocate for their needs." Michael Rodriguez with a mural created by his students. Best practices Learning 42

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