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UNANIMOUS! Oakland Schools to Hold Teachins on Iraq (english)
by Jonah Zern
Email: jonah (nospam) riseup.net
16 Nov 2002
The Oakland School Board Unanimously (with one
abstention) passed a resolution to plan teach-ins
throughout the School District on the war on Iraq
Here is the FRONT PAGE! Oakland Tribune article and
below is the School Board Resolution, cosponsored by
Board Member Dan Siegel and Oakland Education
Association president Sheila Quintana.
Anti-war school board plans teach-ins
By Alex Katz, STAFF WRITER
OAKLAND -- Students in kindergarten through 12th grade will learn about the proposed war in Iraq at 1960s-style "teach-ins," a vocally anti-war school board decided Wednesday.
School board member Dan Siegel proposed the resolution encouraging schools to set aside time to teach about the planned conflict to rid Iraq of what President Bush calls "weapons of mass destruction."
"I think the pending war with Iraq is a matter that has the most serious consequences for people in this country," Siegel said, citing the inevitable deaths of Iraqi civilians and U.S. military personnel, as well as the allocation of resources away from schools and toward war.
The teach-ins will be voluntary and open to parents. Each school site will determine when, or if, the events will happen.
Despite vocal opposition to an Iraq war expressed at school board meetings by board members, schools Superintendent Dennis Chaconas, teachers and students, Siegel said information will be presented in an impartial manner by teachers of all political stripes.
"We ask teachers to do that all the time," said Siegel, who led anti-Vietnam War protests as student body president at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1969. "We have enough integrity and respect for the students to provide them the information and let them make up their own minds."
Fifth-graders from Sequoia Elementary School spoke in favor of the teach-in at Wednesday's board meeting and read letters they had written to Bush opposing an Iraq war.
"When you go to war, you are setting a bad example for all the kids in the U.S.A.," one letter stated. "Wars and fights are not right, and bombing beautiful things is not right either."
Teacher Betty Olson-Jones said the students came up with the idea on their own.
The students invited Bush to come to a weekly class at Sequoia that teaches youngsters how to resolve problems without fighting.
"It's not fair for other people (if) they get killed, because they haven't done anything to George Bush," said student Jennifer, whose parents did not want her last name published.
Bush "is only mad at one person (Iraqi President Saddam Hussein)," Jennifer said. "We think (Bush) should come to our class on Wednesday to learn some (conflict resolution) skills."
The fifth-graders showed they understood that the United States once supported Iraq militarily.
"We think it's strange to go to war with a country you taught war to," student Emma Styles-Swaim said. "We think it's strange because, well, it's weird."
A White House spokesperson was not available to comment Thursday. One official said the students could probably expect some kind of response from the White House.
School board member Bruce Kariya voiced concern about exposing children below fourth grade to "the ravages of war."
Other board members disagreed. As school board member Greg Hodge put it, Iraqi children below the fourth grade will lose their lives in any U.S. attack, so why shouldn't children here at least know about it?
"At the end of the day, it's not going to be Bush and it's not going to be (Vice President Dick) Cheney going off to war," board member Jason Hodge said. "They make the decision and then send our young people to war."
RESOLUTION CALLING FOR A DAY OF PUBLIC EDUCATION
ON WAR AGAINST IRAQ
Cosponsored by Dan Siegel, Boar Member and Sheila Quintana, President of the Oakland Education Association
WHEREAS, the United States government states that it is preparing to initiate a war against the nation of Iraq; and
WHEREAS, an attack on Iraq by the United States would have enormous human, financial and political consequences in the United States and the world community; and
WHEREAS, it is essential that the people of the United States be well-informed on the causes and consequences of military action by their government,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the
Oakland Unified School District decrees that there shall be citywide public education at the school level concerning the background of the current crisis concerning Iraq, the options available to the United States government for attempting to resolve that crisis, and the likely consequences of a United States military attack on Iraq;
FURTHER, that the District's Division of Student Achievement shall work with the Oakland Education Association to develop a list of available resources and lessons that are appropriate for the classroom;
FURTHER, that schools may invite parents and other members of the public to participate in the educational programs; and
FURTHER, that no student or teacher who objects to participation in such educational programs shall be required to do so.