Educator: Teachers Should Have Conversations With High Schoolers About Social Justice

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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An educator said Thursday that teachers should have conversations with high schoolers about social justice issues like race and “systems of power.”

Educator, attorney, and parent Jane Dimyan Ehrenfeld made the remarks in a letter published in The Washington Post.

“We need to support teachers in facilitating dialogues about social justice and systems of power, so that students learn how to discuss and unpack the issues they face in their daily lives,” said Ehrenfeld.

“Our students grow up in a world with systemic racism, inequity, and oppression,” continued the educator. “These issues are a part of their daily lives, and we need to address them in classrooms and in schools.”

Ehrenfeld had her own fourth-grade students engage in a slightly less politically-fraught cause: air conditioning in their school. She took them on a field trip to Washington, D.C., to petition their state representative; their classroom had air conditioning two weeks later.

But Ehrenfeld also wants teachers to tackle more contentious issues.

“Merely allowing protest is not enough,” the educator wrote. “The conversation we need to have goes beyond permitting student action; it is about pushing students to think about the importance of their actions, the power of their voices, and their ability — and responsibility — to stand up against the greatest injustices.”

Ehrenfeld reflected on how, during a conversation about Darfur, a high school student in a class she was visiting asked why African American killings by police officers did not constitute genocide. She said this teacher handled the incident “masterfully,” letting students talk about this but then refocusing them on Darfur. Ehrenfeld also quoted one of her colleagues as education nonprofit Inspired Teaching, who suggested that classes should not just prepare kids to pass tests, but also prepare them for citizenship.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Ehrenfeld to learn which current social or political issues she would like teachers to address, but the educator did not respond in time for press.

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