Bill of Rights Defense Committee for Educators

From the Bill of Rights Defense Committee:

Last year, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) launched the People’s Campaign for the Constitution (PCC) in order to help galvanize the movement to restore the rule of law and civil liberties. We appreciate your support and participation. This spring, after submitting letters to the Attorney General on behalf of 4,000 supporters demanding prosecution for torture-related crimes by former officials, BORDC launched the PCC’s first national affinity groups.

They bring together legal professionals in one group, and educators in another, concerned about issues including executive secrecy, warrantless electronic and physical surveillance, preventive detention, and torture accountability. The first activity of the educators’ group was a recent conference call on which several participants collaboratively defined the group’s near-term agenda. They set priorities and identified several exciting intermediate-term projects, each of which has teams in place to coordinate an effort among volunteers. We write to invite your participation in those projects.

The projects offer chances to bring civil liberties issues to the forefront of education, empowering students, supporting educators, and impacting policy. Specifically, the PCC educators’ network seeks volunteers to plug in on the following projects:

1)  Report on security measures in schools undermining the Constitution:  Developing a detailed report about how security measures in schools (e.g., comprehensive metal detector scanning without suspicion; biometric tracking and identification devices; restrictions on student speech; requirements for clear book bags) undermine the privacy expectations of students and dull their sensitivity to constitutional values.

2)  Curriculum development: Compiling educational materials to demonstrate how public policies (e.g., surveillance, detention, torture, secrecy) affect and ultimately undermine constitutional rights. The project will (a) review currently available materials; and (b) identify potential gaps and compile syllabi to fill them, with audiences including K-12 students, as well as their teachers.

3)  Forming a teacher peer network: Teachers will be gathering resources to assist one another in navigating complicated situations (e.g., how to thoughtfully discuss current events in the classroom without bias, addressing pressure from administrators, etc) and developing an online platform (e.g., a blog, forum, social networking site or wiki) to compile and make them available.

These project teams will be coordinating their respective further efforts in the next week, and would enthusiastically welcome your participation. For more information, or to get involved with one or more of these efforts, email Emma Roderick, Grassroots Campaign Coordinator for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.

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