Letters To The Editor

You Spoke, We Listened

Reader reactions: your responses to Islamophobia, native voices and Kid President.

Reader Reactions

TT Director Maureen Costello addressed Islamophobia in her Spring 2016 “Perspectives” column—and stirred mixed responses.

As I was reading your Perspectives piece, I was just nodding my head in total agreement. … We are not a tolerant nation anymore, and I feel we continue to step backward every day. We are on a slippery slope of being a NATION of fear, prejudice and hate. I only hope that your magazine and online resources can make a change. Thank you!

—Submitted by Teresa Joiner, via email


I appreciate your passion and agree with teaching, in a non-biased way, about Islam, but I didn’t realize there has been a fear-based violent outbreak toward Muslims. … I believe your term “Islamophobia” is just too strong. In light of what is happening around the world and what has happened in the U.S., can you really blame people for being somewhat fearful? 

—Submitted by Tanya Wahlert, via email


Props to the Math Teacher!

Your very last sentence [in “Why I Teach: Solving Problems Beyond Math Class”] was the ultimate summation, “My job is to be a conduit to their path.” That should resonate with every one of us who work with youth in any capacity, as well as ... parents to challenging children. Thank you for a heartfelt and honestly written perspective. I am sharing this with others.

Skye Green, via tolerance.org


Including Native Voices

I just wanted to thank Dave Constantin for his article, “Rewriting History—for the Better.” I teach in New Mexico and was in the process of teaching Manifest Destiny to my students. My Native students were visibly discouraged and one even said, “This makes me sad and mad.” That evening I happened to be reading Teaching Tolerance magazine and saw Dave’s article. The article and resources gave me what I needed to revise my lesson for the next day to include multiple perspectives. The students who had, the day before, been visibly discouraged at the end of class were smiling and cheerfully chatting with classmates at the end of the class that included resources from the Native American perspective.

Soni Buda-Thornburgh, via email 


Lost Opportunity

I was disturbed by Adrienne van der Valk’s insinuation [in “What We’re NOT Reading”] that students should not read A Birthday Cake for George Washington because it “...denies the oppression inherent in slavery but also suggests that resistance isn’t needed or relevant.” ... To dismiss a book out of hand because it does not frame a topic in what we feel is an appropriate way, takes opportunities away from students to see varying points of view and make their own critical decisions about what [they] will and will not read.

Millard Cover, via email


Love for Kid President

I love the One World posters and use many in my classroom. Thank you!

Carrie Lynn Richardson, via Facebook 


Perspectives Helps Me Do My Job

A few of my colleagues and I are using Perspectives in our classrooms. It has been amazing and I would recommend it to anyone. My students frequently ask, “Are we going to have more uncomfortable conversations?” This makes me happy and makes me feel like I’m doing my job, exposing my students to issues of social justice. I appreciate the central texts included in Perspectives and I use them frequently. Thank you!

Kelly Afuvai, via email 


Buddy or Bully Bench? 

As a school counselor, I am not a fan of this approach [spelled out in “Wanted: Playground Buddy”]. Imagine the child sitting on the bench and waiting for someone to come over to ask them to play ... and no one comes over. It helps [the] administration feel better, to say they are doing something positive for these kids, but in reality, [it’s] not teaching kids skills they need to make positive social connections.

Linda Bergh, via Facebook


Props to TT Writer! 

Kudos to Jonathan Gold for his article [“Shifting Out of Neutral”] on owning and empowering teacher bias for the sake of opening constructive, critical thinking of moral issues within the framework of history, or any subject for that matter. Like Jon , I too teach 7th and 8th grade history. My students often ask me about my opinion on a great many topics. When I do share, I have always tried to be careful to share my “educated opinion” only after my students have had a chance to explore their own thoughts and feelings. Afterwards, I often prompt my students with, “Let’s re-examine, or re-think this issue, now that we have more to consider.”

Paul Maloy, via tolerance.org


Stellar Tweet

@Tolerance_org Of all the resources available to teachers online, your work is unparalleled in impact & access. My classroom thanks you!

Whitney Alves @AlvesWhitney, via Twitter


Stellar Facebook Comment

Teaching Tolerance is doing great work. Invaluable resource for educators, and very much needed in these times when fear and hatred of “the other” is so much a part of what passes for political dialogue in our country.

Susanna Winters, via Facebook

Tell Us What You Think!

Have an opinion about something you see in Teaching Tolerance magazine or on our website? Email us at lfjeditor@splcenter.org with the subject line “Letter to the Editor.” Or mail a letter to 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL 36104.

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