Hello and welcome to our keynote today. On behalf of the American Federation of Teachers, I am so excited to kick off our keynote on freedom to teach. Honestly, my name is Kelly Booze and I'm the proud director of the American Federation of Teachers. Share my lesson before we begin. I'd like to thank today's virtual conference sponsor, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Museum of Natural History offers. Support through resources materials, virtual and in person. Programs and teacher loyalty passes. You can learn more about Carnegie Museum of Natural History by clicking on their logo on the right side of your screen and we truly appreciate your support. Alright, I'm going to really quickly show a quick housekeeping video so you know how to engage with our speakers today and then I will be back shortly. Hello everyone, welcome to our 2022 share my lesson virtual conference. My name is Kelly Booze, director of the American Federation of Teachers. Share my lesson before we. Hello everyone, welcome to our 2022 share my lesson virtual conference. My name is Kelly Booze, director of the American Federation of Teachers. Share my lesson before we begin. We'll go over a few housekeeping items. For those of you. My apologies everybody. I think we're having a little technical difficulties on this webinar, so I and at this point since we're on day three of our virtual conference, I'm gonna just assume that most of you know how to use this platform and engage in. If not, we've got a team ready to answer any questions, so if there's any technical issues, oops, let's not push that pull. Let's not advance the slides just yet, sorry. So every every time of any one of us that are here accidentally pushes the pole, it will pop up and move for everybody. So we're pushing up the very first poll questions so you know how to use it and you can get that professional development credit at the very end. The question is, do you wordle? Yes no or what is wordle? So go ahead and submit that response and you do know that if you respond to at least 2 poll questions, you will get professional development credit in a certificate that you'll be able to download. In this webinar today, that poll question is actually a popup poll question that's not happening within the slides. As has been the case with some of our other sessions, I will tell you that I have now kind of addicted to Wardell, and I was. I felt like I hit the Jack Jack Pot one time when I got the the answer in just 2/2 times. So looks like we've got a good mix. I will make sure to put that link into that wordell and with that I'm super excited to pass. The baton over to RAFT Secretary, Treasurer Fed Ingram Fed. Thank you so much for being here in moderating and kicking off this incredible conversation that is so necessary for us to have. I wish it were not necessary for us to have, but I'm I'm grateful that we are together today and fed. Do you? Do you wordle? Do you use wordle? I do not wordell, but I feel like I should. I don't but Kelly thank you very much for having me, although I don't worry though, I am going to try and steer us through this very energetic conversation and very necessary conversation this afternoon. So am I on? You are. We are all good. Hey everybody, and thank you all for joining us out there for this third day of this very important conference. And I want to thank all of you for joining us from around the country and frankly around the world. A big greetings to our panelists today. Susan Nossal Susan Nozzle is the CEO of PEN America and she will be bringing us greetings in just a few moments. Julie Womack who is the organizing director. For red wine and blue and she is more importantly among, and so we thank her for being here with us to add that perspective. And we also have US Representative Jahana Hayes. More importantly, she's a teacher. She's our colleague and we want to thank you representative for being here today with us, and we'll hear from them in just a few moments. I'm just going to step back for a second and say to all of you, my name is Frederick Ingram and I'm the secretary Treasurer. As you've heard for the American Federation of Teachers. Afti I started my education career as a high school band director, music Teacher Down in Miami, FL and before being elected to serve in a FT leadership at the national level. I feel a variety of roles, including as president of the United Teachers of Dade down in Miami and President of the Florida Education Association. I am excited to be having this conversation with you today and I'm also grateful we have an esteemed group. As you heard already of folks here to talk about this issue of freedom and honesty and teaching on our virtual stage this evening, we have people coming from different roles, perspectives and experiences, and I'm looking forward to us having a rich conversation about ensuring students have access to diverse and truthful educational experiences. That include even the tough parts of our country's past. People trying to politicize teaching and demonize teachers is nothing new. And it hasn't been limited to the quote, UN quote, controversial topics of of today, or what state and local legislation around the country called divisive concepts. You will remember learning how back in the 1920s and still today. In some places it was biology teachers fighting to teach evolution. Whenever there is a shift in America, it is the nation's teachers who are responsible for teaching the truth, being truth tellers, standing in the gap, and today that responsibility is once again falling heavily on educators shoulders around the country. We are seeing history and English teachers fighting to teach honest history and to include the struggles our country has gone through, including struggles with racism and inequality and recognition for our marginalized groups like our LGBTQ community. We are seeing librarians fighting to keep books accessible in libraries, and we are seeing community members and parents. A lot of parents coming together to support educators in the struggles for the freedom to teach polling shows the vast majority of Americans disagree with book banning and agree with teaching honest history. So we decided to hold this conversation today to get at the heart of the issue. What's happening. Why is this important and what can we do about it? Before turning it over to our panelists, I want to read a quote that highlights one of the big answers to the question why is this important? This was written by Jeffrey Isaac in a blog for the Chancre Institute. Jeffrey Isaac is a professor of political science at Indiana University Bloomington, and he writes quote. Education is a dangerous thing for authoritarian leaders and regimes. Four, it nurtures freethinking individuals capable of asking questions and seeking their own answers. For this reason, teachers have long been on the front lines of the struggle for democracy. In the US, teachers are facing a well orchestrated political campaign by the far right to limit the teaching of certain subjects and perspectives in public schools, all in the name of a patriotism that is manifestly hostile to a multiethnic and multiracial democracy and a well educated citizenry UN quote. I think Professor Isaacs words there put the importance of these issues in a stark light. The survival of our democracy is not a given. And defending democracy is not something we can lead to others. Democracy requires free thinkers and question askers. It requires critical thinking and that is what is at the core of our country's educational system today. Our schools are responsible for helping to nurture students, natural curiosity and teach them to think critically about the world around them. With that I want to open up the conversation. To start, I would love for each of our panelists tonight to tell us briefly about yourselves. About what you're doing around stopping censorship in our schools and ensuring teachers have the freedom to teach? Honestly, we'll start with Susan. Let's see, maybe we won't start with Susan. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Can you hear me now? Yes we can OK sorry about that, but I'm very pleased to be here and very pleased that you are putting attention and focus on this critical issue. I am the CEO of PEN America. We are an organization dedicated to both celebrating and defending freedom of expression worldwide and we are involved in threats to free expression across the Grove. Now particularly in Ukraine and Russia and other repressive environments including China. But also increasingly, and especially over the last six or seven years right here in the United States and when it comes to, we started a program on free speech and education back in 2016, and at the time our primary focus was on college campuses and the environment of chilling and difficulties in having open discourse cancellations of speakers calls for trigger warnings on curriculum for safe spaces where certain ideas. Works off limits, and many of those threats emanated from the left, but what we've seen over the last period is just an intensification of threats to free speech that are originating from the right and we we call this, not the Red scare, but the Ed scare because to us it's a constellation of threats that are blossoming and and morphing and taking on new forms. And this includes what we call educational gag orders, so those. Our bills that are being introduced in statehouses across the country more than 130 bills introduced and pending now 14 laws in 12 different states that aim to regulate what can be taught in the classroom. And the vast majority Duke target K through 12 schools, although others also target higher education. So we've done a report on educational gag orders and really coined that term that has taken on. Pretty wide resonance as I think an accurate way to describe what others might call divisive concept bills or attacks on on critical race theory. Of course we all know what's at stake is not critical race theory, you know that's a a red herring. What we're talking about is the teaching and learning on issues like slavery and the role of race and gender in American history. So they're the educational gag order bills, they're book bands and book band bills. So these are both. Actions in school boards and within libraries to challenge and restrict access to books. And you know, in and and really a new phenomenon, state level legislation taking certain books, off limits for access in schools, availability on curriculum and. Library shelves and then the third element of what we call the edge scare. Our teacher surveillance and punishment bills and now more than a dozen introduced bills that require the posting of all curriculum to be taught in classroom. All videos, all reading materials, everything that is going to be shared with students. A requirement that that be posted and made available online for commentary political. Interference potentially, and you know with that what that represents. And I I look forward to the discussion on this today is you know when we coined the term educational gag orders. I think that didn't feel good to some of the proponents of these bills who you know on the conservative side side, still style themselves as standard bearers for the First Amendment and freedom of speech, and so having it pointed out that the measures that they're introducing and pushing in statehouses across the country really amount to gag orders. Was uncomfortable and so they pivoted and they've been quite open about this in certain contexts. To this notion of transparency, because it's hard to argue against transparency, right? Shouldn't our schools be open? And don't parents have the right to have a say? And why do you have something to hide? And yet these transparency bills you know in our mind it's it's crystal clear that they are an attempt to intimidate and sensor and limit what's taught in the classroom. You know, for fear that anything that may be the slightest bit. Controversial May may trigger a controversy that in some cases can lead to teachers being banned and being being punished or fined in school systems being fined for what's taught in the classroom, and so one area I'm hoping we'll talk about tonight is is sort of how to best push back against these transparency bills. 'cause you see even quite reasonable people who are kind of on our side when it comes to the gag order. Saying, well, transparency, really, what you know? What's wrong with that? And I, I'd love to hear. From some of the participants in this webinar, what you think are the most potent arguments from the perspective of a teacher in terms of why having to put out everything that you're doing in the classroom ahead of time for public review in this way may not be conducive to the kind of open discourse and comfortable environment that we know fosters learning, so I'll leave it there. Thank you so much, Frederick. Thank you, thank you Susan, I appreciate that perspective and we're gonna push right along to Julie. You represent red wine and blue and parent organization, so you have an interesting perspective that we'd like to hear. Would you tell us a little bit about you and your group and then talk to us? Just you know about the issues at hand. So I am the organizing director for Red wine and blue. I am actually so I am a suburban mom and we are a community at red wine and blue of 300,000 women and we use digital media and front front organizing to bring change to the suburbs one at a time. And really I fit perfectly into our organization. Before 2016. I was not a super activist. I voted. I thought I paid attention to the issues and was informed. But the 2016 election really changed all of that for me, and realized that that was not insufficient and that I had to get more involved. I formed grassroots groups in my community along with many many women across the country who were doing this in the suburbs, and that brought me along to me, our founder, Katy Perry's with red wine and blue and got me involved in the organization. What I can say right now that we're seeing, and I think it's almost been like a year that we started hearing women in our Facebook groups talking about what is the CRT stuff? I keep hearing it. Come up or I I see some things on social media or someones mentioning it at school board and that was our clue that OK, something's going on here and it became pretty apparent pretty quickly that this was very much a coordinated effort and a political agenda. So what we started doing was trying to hold some seminars and some informational sessions to get people educated about this. And if you pay attention to what's going on and where these book bands are happening, it's very clear. That this is an attempt to win back suburban voters. We launched what we call our book Ban Busters campaign about couple months now and on the website. If you go check it out, we are tracking book bans across the country. So we have an interactive map so you can click on your state and see what's going on in terms of bans. Has there been a ban passed? Is there one pending you can click through and see information news articles about what is going on? You can report bans because we know that local media is not existent in all places anymore. So it's we. You know, some things are kind of falling below the radar or shadow banning where the books are allegedly on the shelf, but they're just not available to check out. Those are things that can be reported, and if you go to the map and you look at it, the one thing you're going to think we're up to 48 states now that have either legislation or bans reported. But if you look at the map, you're going to see where the concentrations of bands are. And Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia. These are swing states. That's why you're only you're not really seeing them in Louisiana. You're seeing them in states that that the Conservatives need to win back suburban voters. So it is very much a coordinated effort and we are really paying attention to that. I am thrilled, though, to say that the one thing we are seeing is there is a lot of energy around these book bands. We are doing what we call our troublemaker trainings. Or we bring women on and we give them tools to how do you effectively organize in your community? How do you bring people together around issues like book bands or you know calls to get rid of DI programs or attacks on teachers? You know? How do you push back against that? So we're bringing them in. We're training them. How to do that? How to go push back at the school board level and there is a lot of energy and there is a lot of creativity and every day I talk to women across the country. Here we're doing this. Who wanna step up, who are appalled by what they're seeing? You know, women move their families to the suburbs for the high quality education. And So what we're seeing going on in the school boards really is just appalling. When people learn about it, it's getting that message out there and making sure people are aware that this is going on. Because when you do, if you look at the polling, it's like 86% of people oppose this. It's. It is definitely an issue that can be defeated, but it's raising that awareness and making sure that our voices are being heard in the Community. So I'll stop there and I would love to go into more detail later about, like what I'm seeing people doing the creativity and how people are really organizing to fight back. Absolutely thank you very much. I've got a million questions for you and Suzanne as it relates to what we're seeing in different states for school boards and local politics as it relates to state government and and what we can do about that. So you guys get ready, OK, but last but not least for opening comments is Representative Jahana Hayes and I would like to keep calling her the honorable Johanna Hayes, but for this dialogue I want everybody to just remember six years ago. She was the Ambassador of Education. The national teacher of the Year, the pinnacle of our profession. But 15 years prior to that, she was a history and civics teacher. What better time would it be if not for all these bad bills, that Suzanne and Julie talks about to be a history teacher right now to be a civics teacher? That's going on? People should be, you know, jumping in those classrooms Jehanabad more and more of our colleagues are exiting the classroom because of some of these laws that are coming down in our classrooms. Would you just give us your perspective from where you are now at the levers of power, and then how that actually trickles down to our classroom? And really, what's happening? Give us the perspective from. A 360 perspective 'cause I think you can give it give it to us all. That's why we saved you for last. Well, thank you so much for having me and for having this very timely conversation. I'm going to try to condense this down into two to three minutes because there's so much I can say on this topic. As you just said, I was a history teacher for 15 years. I taught U.S. history, world history, comparative government, civics, geography, and African American history. I had five different preps and I don't know how you could teach any of those topics without teaching every part. You know of the American experience of the global experience. Some of those parts are to be celebrated, and some of them are some really difficult lessons, but you cannot remove any part of that. There's so much to be said about that, but I think the two things that are really important, just based on what we've heard from the other two presenters. First of all, these decisions are made at the local level, and one of the things that I can tell you, educators, me I. I thought I was a teacher I taught. About history, I taught about civics, but I was not incredibly politically engaged. These decisions are made at the local level. Books aren't just banned, you know. School boards take boats, make these decisions. So really making sure that your local elected officials understand and appreciate what is important to you. You cannot teach history and remove huge chunks you cannot teach about the civil civil war without teaching about slavery. You cannot teach about the civil rights area era without teaching about reconstruction, and all of the laws that were put in place. And in my experience when I taught those those lessons in an urban public high school. Kids didn't feel like it was divisive kids. It was a the stage that we all could learn from. I think the other thing that is really important is to make sure that our educators are thoroughly prepared and supported when they're standing in front of these classes. The last thing we want is for teachers to recede at this time from teaching about these critical lessons, but they should feel supported. Curriculum is already public. Most teachers use Google classrooms, so your lessons are not as secret already. Parents already have access to this information, but teachers need to feel supported not only by their administration but by their community to know that you trust me to teach your children. I think one of the things for me as I taught some just really. Just sensitive subject area was the fact that I had already built an environmental trust where kids could ask a question where I could give an answer where kids can ask for clarification or understanding and they knew that my goal was to give them all the information and teach them how to think critically, not what to think but how to think that stage has to be set and the only way we do that is to make sure that our educators are properly prepared, have the resources, have the skills training. Have cultural competency training and understand the community where they are serving all of those things are important before you ever open a textbook and attempt to teach your first lesson. I, if I were in the classroom right now, I I really believe that my parents I have developed a relationship with my parents where they trusted me enough to know that this is what we're teaching about or this is what we're talking about. If there were and actually this has happened to me in the classroom where I thought. There's a different book that that gives the same information, but from a different perspective and I went to my principal or my curriculum supervisor and said I'd like for us to add this to the approved reading list. Teachers don't decide curriculum on their own, and I think that is really what is being misinterpreted right now. This idea that teachers are just closing the door and going rogue and teaching whatever they want to teach history is based on facts. The information is there, the timeline is there. I didn't choose for these events. To happen in our history, we just pull that information together and present it to students. But it is not fair that so many educators are in the classroom and they feel like they're on their own. They're not supported in these conversations. Many, many of them are facing punitive decisions based on lessons that they're taught. Teachers need to be supported. They need to have the resources they need. They need to have the support that they need. They need to be able to. They, meaning teachers. Need to have mentors that they can look to to say I'm not completely comfortable teaching this subject. Can you help me, you know to research it to get the background information to deepen my understanding, so that when I present it to my students, they can receive it in the spirit in which it's meant. And that's one of the things that we don't see happening. I think teachers are unfortunately afraid or feel some level of concern or just don't want the responsibility of having to fight. These battles that they've been create and as a result we are seeing good teachers. Amazing teachers. You know educators not leave their school but leave the profession completely and that is something that we all should be working hard to prevent. The last thing I'll say is it is. It is very telling that during the pandemic we heard you know we have to get our kids back in school. We have to get them in front of their teachers. That is the the biggest indicator for success. The kids missed the teachers, you know. Zoom learning or virtual learning is not helping. Kids need to be in class. With teachers. We heard that for a year and a half. And now upon their return, we're hearing we don't trust the teachers that we sent our kids back to. You can't have it both ways. I think that we need to trust the educators who have. This is a profession with the training, who have the the depth of knowledge, the depth of understanding to deliver these lessons and then support them. I don't think we want to graduate a generation of young people who. Have had who have been shielded from all of the painful parts of our history, and go into the world with no appreciation or understanding of why these things are important of how hard fought these battles were. I mean, where do we? Where do we start? Do we erase the stories of the American Revolution that were religious persecution? Do we relate erase the stories of slavery or the civil rights movement or Native Americans in this country? Every part of our history. Has a protagonist, you know? So we really have to give kids all of that information and then use that as a springboard to show them that we are moving in the right direction. Anything else, I think, is a dereliction of the duty of every educator and every elected official whose job is to support our teachers and our educators and our families and our communities to make sure that we graduate. And informed generation. Thank you, thank you Johanna. I you know, I feel like I need an hour with each of you, just as you know, just so that we can get through some of the issues that are going on. But I'm gonna stay in my lane as a moderator tonight and just ask the questions because there's so much to add. But Susan I wanna go back to you because so much of what you said linked to what Julie and Johanna said and I heard from someone says it's all politics are local and some of this stuff is happening on a local level school boards, superintendents. Even principles at some point and the laws and bills are affecting that. But what are you seeing on on on a as local as you can get for for the fight back? For teachers in terms of support for our schools in terms of of groups that are out there and what can teachers or people who care about the educational village? What can they do? Well, I think Julie made a really important point, which is that there is a lot of opposition to these measures and a lot of recognition that to Joanna's point that these infringe upon the rights of teachers that they run counter to free speech protections that they are aimed to. Intimidate that you know they're fundamentally UN American and so that is something that. Can be broad, can and must be brought out and we're seeing inspiring examples of teachers, librarians, students. Often the most effective voices speaking in front of school boards. In some cases testifying at state legislatures, demonstrating and organizing within their communities, and so that's very powerful. And I, I think you're right that these battles do have to be waged at the local level. There, it's clearly a. Political strategy I was struck listening to the response to the President. Biden, State of the Union address. Some weeks ago the phrase parents rights came up three times and the governor of Iowa speech and you know that's not a phrase we were hearing until recently. And you know part of it, yes, is through the frustrations over the pandemic and the disruptions to education. But it's crystal clear they have seized on this as a winning. Political issue and a lot of the argument I think, is that national level kind of Moraes and standards and and social norms are being imposed locally, and so you know in terms of the substance of the issues, we know when it comes to curricula, it has to do with race and and how we understand the history of race in this country. When it comes to book bans, it's race but also religion, ethnicity, particularly books. And messaging relating to LGBT populations and, you know, we haven't even gotten into what's happening in Florida or Texas in relation to that. This. This vicious targeting of stories and narratives and families with LGBTQ identities and an effort to erase that from the classroom in the younger grades and just sort of strike fear in the hearts of anybody who might broach it in curriculum. Even for older students, and so in order to push back against this notion that you know these are concepts are coming in from the outside, that this is something foreign. This doesn't belong in a classroom for young children. This is not how the way that we think of things in this Community. It's not a set of ideas we want in this community. What we need is people from that individual community who speak with the authority of being rooted locally. Understanding. What the local history and norms and traditions are to frame the argument in terms that their neighbors and public officials, the people they elect to office? Whether that's the US Congress or the local school board, will understand. So the work that we're doing at pet America, that red wine and blue is doing to equip parents, teachers, librarians, students to speak out in their own voices to go and read the books. Very often these bands are being handed down without anybody actually having read the book. And when someone comes forward and says, hey listen, I've read that book and maybe you know, there's a little section that is controversial or might be upsetting, but this is an important classic narrative that needs to be made available that's incredibly persuasive, and so the training the equipping we have toolkit on our website and we're doing extensive outreach with communities across the country to position people to. Wage these fights because they are the most authentic and very often the most effective voices. Thank you, thank you for that right here. Fred. Absolutely, absolutely Johanna. Well, the only thing I was gonna say there is that we have to expand upon that just a little bit more because if we are waiting for people to only those affected to speak out, you know it cannot just be. And I say this, I I represent a district that has 41 towns. I have some really large cities. I have affluent suburbs. I have rural farming communities and. In summer, I guess the point I'm trying to make is this is good information for all kids to learn. I mean it doesn't matter whether you have LGBTQ youth in your school or immigrants in your school or even children of color in your school. It's good information for all kids to to learn these things. So if we are waiting for community validators to buy into it and say, OK, well, I guess it's OK if we have a more culturally rich or diverse curriculum. I, I think that will still leave people behind. Teachers should not have to be fighting battles. You know, this is the fast. This is who we are. This is the richness of this country. The richness of our diversity. And I really think that there has to be. You know everybody just this collective push to say that it is important that children recognize I don't know that families are different. They're composed different and maybe just because this isn't your experience or what you've seen in your community. At some point in your life, you may leave this community and this is how the world is. I just think that that's very important because I hear people you know, especially now I, I mean, we just passed in Congress the Crown Act, which was a here discrimination bill and people said, well, what do you need that for? Why is that? If you are, you know a black student, there was no question why something like that was relevant or important. You know. So, just really. Not waiting for an experience to get to you, but just having the depth of empathy and understanding to appreciate that just because this isn't something that I'm familiar with. You know it's important enough and I trust that other people's experiences are important, and I think that is part of the problem, because in a lot of these homogeneous communities, it's like that never happened to me. It must not be a problem, and that's not always the case, so really, just having. Just an open mind to say that we are open to different perspectives and different viewpoints and really viewing our community through a different lens. I mean just to say, of course I agree with you. I couldn't agree more. I mean, we look at these values as universal in terms of both freedom of expression and equality. We look at at literature and books. Is such an important vehicle to bridge across divides and to spark empathy and to put you inside the head of somebody who has a life experience completely different from yours. Somebody that you might have been taught to hate or to be suspicious of, or to look down upon. Being able to see the world through their eyes in a story in a narrative can be such a powerful and transformative experience, and it's experienced people of color have been asked to undergo weeding white narratives their whole lives. You know, when when you know people, my age were in school, those were virtually all the books that were taught, and so to live in a pluralistic society. It's extremely important that all of us have some ability to inhabit other people shoes to see the world from there. Perspective and and to to also see our own lives and life experience from a distance and have some objectivity and recognize that what we're used to isn't just a universal norm and may not represent other people's experience. So I just want to say I agree with all of that. I just think in terms of waging these battles, sometimes the most effective spokespeople and ambassadors can be those who really know the local community, and I think it's really going to take a team approach because I want Julie to jump in here too, because? She has a vantage point of seeing and hearing from parents each and every day and understanding that it's going to take those closest to the the community who live on the corner who live in the rural areas in the suburban areas, in the urban areas. What is that message that our parents are saying and then what is it that they need to be hearing so that we can all advance this? The right educational agenda forward and the right educational agenda should be about kids first, about students first and then what they learn. On top of that should be truth. It should be all of the truth, the ugly, the good, the bad, whatever it is so that they can be informed citizens to make their own decisions about what happens in their their society. That we're going to leave them to Julie. What are you hearing from our parents? Well, the parents that I'm talking to who are aware of this, like I said, are just appalled because they they want their kids to have a well rounded education. They want them to be prepared for the 21st century. You know, you're not going to work in corporate America, and you know, I was going to say corporate America spends like billions of dollars a year on like DI programs. So you're not going to send your kid off into a world without any preparation and having them being sheltered from different perspectives and different ideas like that. Telling a parent that will really sink in. Because that is not what they want. They want their children to be successful. I was going to say one thing about some of the framing though. In the messaging you were talking about how the parents rights came up and you keep hearing the other side on this talk about critical race theory. What's what we want to do with our book band Busters Campaign is really turn the narrative we need to own the narrative on this and we need to own the framing so we want it to be book bands. If you're going to come up and complain at a school board about something or talking about critical race theory, we want that to immediately be. You're just talking about book bands because you know what? People don't like book bands. It doesn't pull well. It doesn't sound good. It brings up awful history, so we need that to be the the framing people talking about parents rights, which is going to be the new push on this. I, I think Suzanne had her colleague had a great. I saw an email that he was in. He said something about its teacher surveillance. You know that doesn't sound so great. You need to. We need to think of the messages that we're sending. What we're saying, don't pair it. They're talking points. Make sure you're saving. You're stating your point on this and also parents who are going to school board. Need to know that they need to call it exactly what's going on. They need to say that this is a political agenda and that we need to come together because kids are gonna win when parents and teachers are united. That's how kids are going to be successful, and so that's what they need to be saying when they show up at these school board meetings. But in terms of getting that message out there? I mean, the most important thing I want to say is that is really a very small but vocal minority that is standing up and pushing this agenda. If you look at statistics ballotpedia. And after the 2021 election, put out some results that showed like 78% of mainstream school board candidates actually won. They defeated kind of these right wing extremists and I think it was New Hampshire that just had very very similar. Results were like 88% of the mainstream candidates won. And that's because people are organizing and standing up against it. So I don't want people to have this idea that this is like a super successful thing. It's really not. They're just very, very organized and they have a lot of dark. Money behind them and they're getting the conservative media behind them so their voices are just very loud. But because it's at the local level, your voices can be way louder because you're addressing your school board and your community. So if you get parents to show up and talk about how a book impacted their child or why they want their children to have a well rounded education, if you get students to show up and talk about what a book meant to them, I've heard so many kids, and especially in the LBGT community, who have said some of these. Books have saved their lives because they're seeing themselves represented, and I know it's true from students, so all different backgrounds and places and religions. But teachers voices are so important to for you all to stand up and to say how a bill is going to impact you and how in your ability to teach subjects what things may be blocked in your curriculum. If some of these bills pass, those voices are so powerful, and even if you feel, and I know a lot of teachers feel that they can't do that because of job security or whatever issues they may have. You know there are parent groups I have seen who are collecting teachers from statements of statements from teachers like anonymously and reading them at school board or passing them out like your voices can be heard even if maybe you're not in a position to be the one to stand up and do that. But yeah, I'm getting that local organizing going and getting those parents to show up is just so effective because all politics is local and like I. Said it is a smaller side, but if nobody shows up for our side if no one shows up to speak, they are the only voice in the room and we that can't happen. Got it, thank you very much. So listen. We have a speed round and then we have a final conclusion of of of a final set of questions. So I wanna start with a Johanna and then I wanna go to Suzanne and then I wanna go to Julie and then we're gonna do a wrap up. But I have a question really for all three of you from a different vantage point that you bring and it's really about book banning and I want to talk to you Johanna about. The fact that we've seen this before in history, and we've seen it in some of the ugliest animals of of of systems of political systems around the country around the world. When people start to ban books, there are other things that follow that in this. In the in the cyclical thing of history. And we we see you are truly one of the Vanguards and guardians of our schools, our public schools, our teachers, and we. Thank you for that. But there are many of your colleagues that are that are simply. They are. They are outrageous as it relates to banning books and trying to come come down on teachers. What is it that we can do the public citizenry? To combat this, to help you on your level because you're champion championing all the right things. But we need to get you some help and we need that help to go down to our local level to our governors, to our State House and state Senate folks and then to our Council member right? And So what is it that you and we have all kinds of people on this zoom tonight and it's not zoom but we have all kinds of people on our program tonight like. Bus drivers and cafeteria workers. We have security guards. We have the educational village that surround us, surrounds us and so from your vantage point, just tell us a little bit how we can help. Well, first of all we need to be able to call it what it is. This is all politically motivated. You're absolutely right. It's a a minority. It's very small group of people who are very loud. I taught history for 15 years and every year in the US history I'm showing kids you know, posters of of the sale of of of Women of African Americans of Slaves. But then we saw last year that a book like beloved and award-winning novel was. Offensive and and hurt a child's feelings. There are parts of our history that are offensive that but as long as they are framed in the context of this is a teachable moment. This is a lesson that is being learned because if we continue to remove all of those books, I mean, I think about it. I taught history for 15 years. Uh, you know, some of the language that was used in the approved text, or you know, some of the. Referring to immigrants as scalawags or, you know, just all of these super offensive names and in the context of the time in which they happen, helped to frame the lesson. And I think it really is going to be. It's going to take for local leaders for local parents, for community members who have the opposing viewpoint to enter this conversation, because it is, you know, in my state we had a state representative who we just. Connecticut was the first state to pass. A mandatory African American and Latino history as part of the graduation requirement and we had a state Rep who introduced legislation to remove that and the same group of parents went from town to town showing up at school board meetings protesting outside and the problem is, is that you know, we've heard on this on this call that the people who feel differently just don't want to engage because it's such a visceral environment. But what ends up happening? Is the only people who go on record as having an opinion? Are those fringe conversations so it really is going to take for us to whatever that looks like. Whether it is writing letters to your local leaders, whether it is showing up at board meetings, but somebody has to have the courage to stand up against this. It cannot just be the small group of really loud people and a handful of teachers. It has to be the parents. It has to be the students. It has to be the community leaders who believe in and value the richness of diversity in our communities. And want a deeper understanding of how people engage, how they interact doesn't mean that everyone has to be exactly the same. You know our diversity is our strength. It is important that we teach that it's OK to be different or to have different views or different values, and that is OK. But if people feel like I can't say that out loud, that is the beginning of the end of democracy. So it is much more important than just a lesson in a classroom. It really is setting the stage for how we engage in a free society. Thank you, thank you representative Susan, you wrote a book called Dare to speak defending free Speech for all and so you bring an expertise to this because you've done some research. What are we seeing today and how do we fight back? Yeah look, my book is an effort to explain how we can live together in our diverse, digitized and divided society without curbing free speech. And it really goes directly to the tensions that we're talking about today, where on the left we see a retreat from free speech for fear that it represents a smokescreen for hatred. We see young people questioning the viability and utility of free speech and. Believing that in order to become a more inclusive, more equal society where everybody has a sense of security and belonging that more restrictions on speech are necessary to realize that. And then we now see on the right this incredible betrayal of free speech principles, invoking the power of government through legislation and school board action to ban and punish speech. And So what I argue for very passionately, is that we kind of have to renegotiate. The rules for free speech I layout 20 principles for how to do that, and five are directed to people when they're speaking 5 or when you're listening. Five are when you're debating free speech questions and five address issues of free speech policy that we're grappling with, including, for example, social media regulation. I really argue for a give and take between principles of voluntary restraint in the exercise of speech, right? So the idea that we ought to be conscientious with language we ought to. Think about who we're speaking to and who's in our audience. How do they want to be referred to? The idea that if you have a powerful platform, you have a duty of care to think ahead to do some research, not to just run your mouth off in a way that might unintentionally offend other people. Even if you didn't mean any malice. On the flip side, though, I argue that when you're responding to speech, you need to take into account intent and context. And even if something bothers you, you know you should probe beyond that and say, well. You know, was this person being willfully offensive? Were they being just sort of negligent? Are they ignorant? Are they discounting me or denigrating my experience or or maybe? Maybe they aren't. Maybe they're brand new immigrant and what they said, you know, has a completely different meaning in the environment that they're from. So I sent all of this out and argue for kind of a new bargain in terms of how we exercise our own free speech, rights and respect those and protect those of others. Thank you, thank you so much and Julie, I guess I'll look for you for a wrap up because it's our parents at the core. Who are the guardians of our children along with our teachers along with our cafeteria workers along with our bus drivers along with our principals and along with our district administrators. It's all of us and that against a backdrop of CRT book banning COVID to wear a mask or not to wear a mask to have a vaccine or not have a vaccine. All of the vitriol we hear against one another when we should be pulling for one another, because that's truly what our schools are about. Bring us, bring them all and we will teach them all. What is it that you can tell our listening audience about? What they can do as parents and as the bigger educational village to move us forward for our children? Well, like I said, the the group that is pushing this agenda is the small minority, but they're loud and so you as parents. As teachers we all have to be louder and I don't mean loud like we're going to school board and screaming and yelling like you're seeing happening. I just mean strength in numbers and showing up, and I think the very first thing is to just be vocal with everybody you know about what is going on. I think there is a need to raise awareness because people might have. You know, we all have busy lives, right? We've got you know, kids and work and home and things going on. And so you may catch a story here or two on the news about book bans or something going some censorship or something happening with teachers. But people really don't pay attention and I find this every day with the people I talked to. Even people in my circle who I'm really good friends with and they know what I do for a living and they haven't heard of some of this stuff. So there's a real need to raise awareness, so please use your voices with your networks. I mean other teachers. Other administration, but your neighbors. The people you see in the you know car rider pick up line are at your kids. Sports events. Talk about what legislation is pending. Like have you heard about this? Talk about how last room or the things that your students are going to lose out on, and when you raise that awareness, then I I think you're you will see people in paying more, you know, paying attention to it. And like I said, the the polling is clear. This is not a popular issue. People do not want to see their kids education undermine. They don't want to see their their schools that they think are are valuable institutions to be hurt. There was just an article recently that the AP, the College Board you know made decertify. Some AP classes in schools if there's legislation passed that's gonna ban certain topics, I'm going to tell you where I live. In my suburb, parents will lose their mind if they hear that is going to happen. So you need to raise awareness and sound that alarm and then you know, find those parents in your community who are really concerned about this and like try to make sure that they're getting organized. If they're getting activated, heck, send them to water. My troublemaker trainings. I'll teach him how to do it, but you need to have those voices. 'cause if your voice is show up and talk. I feel very strongly that you're going to win on this issue, but we just need to make sure that people know what's going on and they need to know the impact of what's happening. Thank you Julie Womack. Red wine and blue Suzanne Nossel of Pen America and our distinguished honorable Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. Thank you all very much for joining us tonight. I am glad and grateful that you all are in this fight and I want to thank you all for a wonderful evening of conversation of trying to pin down this issue of teaching. Honest. And to our student teaching honesty to our students, there are millions of children in this country who are depending on us. To get this right, they are depending on us. To get this right. And so from each of your vantage points, you all are adding to the edification of our children's education and their very lives. I always say our children will take care of us one way or another. We better pour into them now or they will pour into us later. So thank you all very much. This is share my lesson and the FT. Is so honored to be here to be partnered with you all, this session will close with the Chairman lesson housekeeping video again, my heart goes out to you. All goes out to all of my colleagues because we are in perilous times but the one hope that we have is our classrooms is our schools is our teachers and our students and our parents all banding together to make the future better than it was for us. Thank you all so much and goodnight. Hi everyone, Kelly booze rejoining you again. 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Today's political climate has become yet another barrier to teachers doing their jobs. Despite Americans overwhelmingly opposing book bans and supporting honest history being taught in public schools, some states are working to ban books and limit what is taught. Teachers are being scared into silence, and students are watching as they and their communities are being ignored.

Featuring U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes; CEO of PEN America, Suzanne Nossel; Organizing Director of Red Wine & Blue, Julie Womack; and facilitated by AFT Secretary-Treasurer, Fedrick Ingram, this session will be an open discussion on the importance of teaching honest history and affirming students’ identities, and how to teach honestly in such polarized times.

Available for one-hour of PD credit.*

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