California Educator

December 2015

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"lived in fear" of being bullied and harassed by peers. "It was disturbing," Platt said. "I didn't realize how many kids are getting shoved into lockers on a daily basis and how pervasive it is on campus." * Asking students to write down their experi- ences. e drama teacher turned their stories into a musical called 22 Percent, performed by students. "It was intense," recalled Harris. "Students were singing their own stories." * Creating "Safe Space" posters and asking col- leagues to display them in their classrooms, to inform students they could talk to their teacher if they were feeling confused or upset, and that slurs and negative comments would not be tolerated in the class. * Organizing a "fishbowl" exercise where stu- dents sat in a circle surrounded by school staff, who listened as students shared stories about what it was like to be an LGBTQIA student at CVHS. Many staff had no idea of the challenges their students faced. * Sponsoring Ally Week in fall 2015, a celebration of LGBTQIA students and peers who support them. All students were asked to write positive, encourag- ing messages to LGBTQIA students and share stories about being an ally to someone. The messages and stories were turned into a "paper chain of kindness" and displayed in the hallway. Tie-dyed "Ally" T-shirts sold like hotcakes. At a school football game that week, Associated Student Body members, cheerleaders and band per- formers wore rainbow stickers and ribbons. However, some staff members, parents and football players were opposed to players wearing stickers on their helmets. One player feared upsetting his parents and asked if he could wear the sticker inside his helmet. Some critics predicted that players with stickers would be punched by members of the opposing team, but that didn't happen. At times Platt and Harris have had to remind staff that certain policies and behaviors toward LGBTQIA students are not only wrong, they are discriminatory and illegal. For example, forcing seniors to choose a drape for girls or a tux for boys in graduation photos does not take gender identification into account and is discriminatory, they pointed out. Some staff members were not always receptive to their suggested changes. "We've had to remind everyone that it's our job to make sure the school is safe for all students," Platt said. "at's something that no one can really argue against. at's the real message. It's not about 'those kids,' it's about 'our kids.' " I N D E C E M B E R , President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Sec- ondary Education Act (ESEA), marking the end to the one-size-fits-all approach to educating students and the misuse of standardized testing. It was a triumph for educators in California and across the country, who repeatedly called on legislators to rewrite the flawed 14-year-old No Child Left Behind Act and give all students an opportunity to suc- ceed and educators a stronger voice in the classroom. "This new law is a well-deserved victory for our nation because ESSA will create greater opportunity for every student regardless of ZIP code," says NEA President Lily Eskelsen GarcĂ­a. CTA President Eric Heins says California is actually ahead of the curve when it comes to standardized testing. "In many ways, the new federal law will mandate that states do what we in California have already been working on for a few years now, including a broader accountability system of using multiple measures of student success, instead of just test scores," says Heins. He notes that ESSA separates test scores from high-stakes decision-making, and lets states determine their own accountability plans, rather than follow top-down directives from Washington, D.C. Educators should be proud, Heins adds. "is law empowers edu- cators to do what they do best: reach our students where they are, instead of forcing them to keep up with a testing manual. Cal- ifornia's educators are proud to have joined the nationwide mobilization of teachers and parents to get Congress to pass this overdue law. "We did it, at last, and we did it together. California's students will succeed as a direct result of our unity and perseverance." F o r i n f o r m a t i o n a b o u t ESSA's implementation, go to essa. Educators' activism helps pass historic ESEA reauthorization LET EVERY STUDENT SUCCEED E X T R A C R E D I T A N SW E R S Shapes (2-dimensional and 3-dimensional) 1. Square 2. Triangle 3. Cube 4. Octagon 5. Pyramid Challenge: Rectangle First names of U.S. Presidents 1. Dwight 2. Warren 3. Lyndon 4. Abraham 5. Ronald Challenge: Barack 53 December 2015 / January 2016

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