California Educator

January / February 2017

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Page 45 of 59

In art class at Charlotte Wood Middle School, teacher Gary Leveque and students wear signs around their necks: "Hate Makes Us All Ugly." In Jill Watson's classroom at Twin Creeks Elementary School, a sign tells third-graders "ere's No Place for Hate." In Eghosa Obaiza's classroom at California High School, a huge heart adorns a wall, with the words: "Protect Your Humanity." A fter several well-publicized hate crimes in San Ramon Valley Unified School District during the fall election season, educators are letting students know in no uncertain terms that racism and bul- lying aren't tolerated. San Ramon Valley Education Association (SRVEA) members and others in this upper-class community were shocked by recent incidents, including racial epithets written in a boys' bathroom with one urinal marked "whites" and another marked "colored." In a girls' bathroom, the N-word was scrawled. At elementary schools, students have yelled "Go home" to students of color. These are not isolated events. They reflect an uptick in hate crimes nationwide, which some researchers attribute to behavior displayed by Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, such as referring to Mexican immigrants as "rapists and criminals," calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, mocking a disabled reporter, and demeaning women. The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported more than 1,000 incidents of hateful graffiti, assaults and bullying in the U.S. since the election, with nearly half occurring at K-12 schools and universities. And nearly half of perpetrators directly referenced a candidate and campaign slogans. Incidents have occurred elsewhere in California. In a survey of 800 CTA members in December, almost half of the respondents said their students needed help coping with the results of the election at school, and more than a quarter said they had seen students using Donald Trump's example to bully or say offensive things to students of a different race or ethnicity. This alarming trend has many educators — no matter their political leanings or how they voted — concerned about improving Fighting Back Against Hate San Ramon school community comes together to make change By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Photos by Scott Buschman California High School's Eghosa Obaiza in front of the poetry "heart" wall in her classroom. " It's important to give students a voice and space to express themselves, so they can work together to make the changes they want. It allows them to do exceptional things." — Eghosa Obaiza, San Ramon Valley Education Association 44 teaching & learning

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