#USvsHate: A Report on Our Spring 2018 Pilot

#USvsHate: A Report on Our Spring 2018 Pilot

Mica Pollock (Professor and Director, Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence [CREATE], UC San Diego) and San Diego educator colleagues

With seed support from Teaching Tolerance, we have completed a San Diego pilot of #USvsHate, an educator- and youth-led messaging project designed to counter the hate spike tracked in schools nationally.

We now plan to scale #USvsHate across the San Diego region in the 2018-19 school year. Participants from elsewhere are also most welcome! We hope to fully scale the project nationally in fall 2019.

[1] Partners include district leaders, principals, and teachers from the San Diego Unified School District, Sweetwater Union High School District, and Vista Unified High School District, with support from the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) and the Department of Education Studies, UC San Diego.

What is #USvsHate?

Designed by Mica Pollock and educators in San Diego, #USvsHate is an educator- and youth-led messaging project designed to counter bigotry in schools and create safe and welcoming classrooms. We seek to unite diverse school communities against the post-election hate surge.

In #USvsHate, educators and students dialogue about inclusion using lessons curated from 20 teacher support organizations. Then, students create anti-hate messages for their school communities that explicitly address, explore, and refuse racism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, sexism, or other hate forms. Educators and students can display all messages via school walls, activities or websites, and then send “best” entries to #USvsHate for broader sharing via a biannual message contest (November 2018 and April 2019). Winning entries in our pilot #USvsHate contest were made into free posters and stickers for participating classrooms. In a scaled-up version in 2018-19, we will accept #USvsHate messages in any media. Winning entries in our contests will be amplified via our website and social media, and made into free posters and stickers for participating classrooms.

Why #USvsHate?

Since the 2016 election season, as documented by Teaching Tolerance and UCLA researchers, educators and students have said they urgently need supports for talking about equity and inclusion, and across lines of race, income, sexuality, gender, religion, and national origin. In a climate of increased anxiety, hate, unleashed racism, and fear, more than 90 percent of teachers recently surveyed nationally agreed that in increasingly polarized school climates, they particularly needed help to “encourage and model civil exchange and greater understanding across lines of difference.” Almost a third of teachers surveyed in May 2017 “reported an increase in students making derogatory remarks about other groups during class discussions.” Recent school hate and harassment examples included swastikas and n-words, taunts to peers about deportation, visible messages like “Kill the [N-word]” and “F--k Jews,” and explicit statements of white supremacy.

Combined, these factors indicate a critical need for supporting educators and students in equity- and inclusion-oriented action, dialogue and messaging. #USvsHate has focused relentlessly on this very goal.

#USvsHate: the specifics of the intervention

In #USvsHate, teachers teach a sample lesson (ideally, a short series of lessons) from a list curated from a national group of partner organizations. Lessons support classroom dialogue about inclusion in the following three categories:

1) Community Building Activities setting norms and building inclusive relationships.

2) Foundational Anti-Hate Lessons exploring overarching issues of hate and bias, bullying, stereotypes, and ally behavior. (These lessons, including a student-requested section titled Words Can Hurt, also help give participants the chance to discuss recent experiences with hate.)

3) More Specific Anti-Hate Lessons on specific forms of hate needing attention in specific communities.

To conclude any lesson, students are then invited to create anti-hate messages in any media for their school communities that will do the following:

  • explicitly address, explore, and refuse racism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, sexism, or other hate forms in schools;
  • communicate that people across lines of difference contribute to our communities, regions, and nations;
  • bust myths about “types” of kids too often misrepresented;
  • ask peers to treat peers kindly and respectfully so schools stay safe for learning.

Beginning in fall 2018, students will be invited to create anti-hate messages in any media, including hand-drawn or digital images for posters or stickers; poems, essays, spoken word, performances, speeches, letters to the editor, videos, or other media. Winning entries in a bi-annual #USvsHate contest will be amplified via our website and social media, and made into free posters and stickers for participating classrooms.

The #USvsHate project aims to shift school climate to emphasize safety for all; build youth voice; equip teachers with dialogue tools; and pilot an inclusion process to be scaled up statewide and nationally. It also seeks to pool resources from national educator support organizations for use in a collective action anti-hate project that students and teachers anywhere can join.

The remainder of this page describes results from the 2018 spring pilot.

#USvsHate 2018 pilot description

In winter 2017, after conversations with nearly twenty national educator support organizations, Pollock and San Diego educator leaders were awarded a 10K seed grant from Teaching Tolerance to pilot #USvsHate with educators representing three major San Diego school districts (Sweetwater Union High School District, San Diego Unified School District, and the Vista Unified School District). As Pollock had documented, San Diego was no exception to the national hate surge, making it an important polarized community for piloting the #USvsHate intervention. In San Diego, majority white teachers serve proportionately more undocumented immigrants and refugee students than other communities nationally, alongside residents who are vehemently both pro- and anti-immigration. Students report anti-black racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and homophobia remain virulent, even as marches across the city have also demonstrated active support for diversity.

A diverse educator leadership team of nearly 10 educators (principals, equity office leaders, family and community engagement staff) representing the three major San Diego school districts codesigned and piloted the #USvsHate intervention with Pollock and a team of graduate students from UC San Diego. We created a draft guide to the project and invited a pilot group of 10 additional interested educators from the districts to choose lessons to pilot and invite student-made #USvsHate posters.

Educators from the three districts piloted the intervention in high school and middle school classrooms (including 20 “advisory” classes in one high school, English 10-12 classes in another high school, and science classes and English classes in two more middle schools), with links to diversity and LGBTQ ally clubs. One educator in charge of her district’s family engagement efforts piloted the activities with local immigrant parents along with a student diversity club. In total, the #USvsHate pilot engaged almost 1,000 San Diego students.

Educators chose activities supporting them to facilitate classroom dialogues on topics ranging from Islamophobia to xenophobia to homophobia to racism, choosing lessons from a large resource list of lessons offered by nationally renowned educator organizations. Each educator reviewed and chose topics that fit his/her current student relationships, curricular needs, and local school climate issues. Lessons chosen ranged from lessons on “empathy” by Teaching Tolerance, to use of an Anti-Defamation League “Pyramid of Hate,” to lessons on homelessness, refugees, Islamophobia, and homophobia. Some watched the film “Bully.” Several were teaching explicitly on these issues with their populations for the first time.

Teachers then invited youth to make anti-hate #USvsHate posters for school walls, expressing anti-hate messaging of the four types above. When reviewing entries, we expanded to produce winning “anywhere messages” as small stickers as well. (See winning student messages, here). In a planned fall 2018 scale-up, by student request, we will support students to end #USvsHate lessons by producing anti-hate messaging in any media (hand-drawn or digital posters; poems, essays, spoken word, performances, videos, speeches, or other media) for their schools. Entries in any media can be sent to our biannual message contest for broader sharing via our website and social media; winning entries will also be made into free posters and stickers for all participating classrooms. In spring 2019, we will repeat the process with more San Diego participants. All year, #USvsHate will include anyone interested in participating from anywhere in the country.

Through a process of youth voting, one winning entry (see our website) was reproduced as a “conversation starter” poster for participating schools’ classroom walls. Two were reproduced as “anywhere message” stickers participating students could put on laptops, folders, water bottles, cars, and elsewhere to shape climate. Products were delivered to students to end the school year and are now being spotted across the community.

Pollock and graduate students collected student input on informal google surveys taken throughout the pilot and in several informal post-pilot focus groups, and via design conversations between #USvsHate educator leaders and pilot participants. As seen below, participating students and teachers called #USvsHate a unifying and sorely needed “way in” to inclusion work in the post-election climate. And as ultimate evidence of effectiveness, participating teachers and students want the project scaled across San Diego County and far beyond.

Results: Youth and Adults Say #USvsHate Inclusion Efforts and Talk Tools are Sorely Needed

Highlights from participating educator and student insights, captured in focus group, surveys, and educator discussions, include the following.

Students called anti-hate effort critical right now, particularly re peer-peer interactions.

On a survey given to all student participants, students’ qualitative responses to #USvsHate lessons chosen by teachers were overwhelmingly positive.

Asked “What is one thing you learned from the #USvsHate activity?”, students said things like the following: “People should respect each other for who they are.” “Do not judge a book by its cover. Everybody deserves the right to freedom and peace.” “I’ve learned to accept others even more.” “That we should care about what is happening.” “That everyone is different and we need to accept it and support those people.” “I learned that students can come together for a change instead of fighting.” “To respect others and have empathy.” “I learned that we can stand up for each other.”

Asked “What is one thing you are still thinking about as you leave?”, students said things like the following: “To include everyone.” “There is so much hate in the world. We have to do something about it.” “To be kind to everyone that you meet or talk to, Something [my school] says they try to work on but never do.” “How to combat hate and how to speak up about injustice I see in day to day life.” “Be kind to others.” “Include others.” “One thing I think about is how can people be so rude to one another especially when they haven’t done anything wrong to you.” “That we should be more mindful of others around us.” “That we should respect everyone.” “To always do the right thing.” “I’m still thinking about how there’s no equality in this world and the fact that we have to fight for it.” “As I leave, I am still thinking about what we can do as a school to better the educational and community atmosphere.” “How I can make choices, speak and interact with others while being free of hate.” “The importance of our voices.”

And asked “To make your school feel welcoming to all students, what additional supports do students need?,” students said things like the following: “Students need more inclusion by everyone in the school.” “I think my school needs more inclusion for everyone.” “We need to learn that we all sleep under the same sky no matter what color your skin is.” “One thing I learned was that there are many ‘groups’ that have been alienated.” “Make so we all have to interact with people we don’t know.”

In follow-up informal focus groups, students called specifically for the importance of lessons demonstrating to peers that “words can hurt,” given daily hate language in their school communities.

Students summed up that they hear words like “the n word, beaner, retarded, and gay” “multiple times a day.” One high school student put it this way: “I hear the n word used a lot. Other racial slurs are used almost as if it’s become a joke recently—online too, it transfers itself to school, people think it’s normal. With all these things like black people getting shot and political issues surrounding race. . . It’s become a joke to use these slurs.” Another student noted that, “It doesn’t lose its power, people become numb to it. It’s used so often that they become used to it.” And another: “they will say it and not realize the impact they have on others’ lives.”

The idea that hate talk has become so common as to be “a joke” was repeated by students in multiple schools. As one student put it, “there are people making racist jokes and when you get upset, they’re saying ‘get over it,’ and using homophobic slurs and saying “deal with it.” When you get upset, they say ‘get over it.’” Another student added, “When a racist joke happens and someone gets upset, they say ‘so and so does it, so it’s ok.’” Yet another student said that “I’ve noticed that when people use really hurtful things to one another, and you try to defend it . . . they attack you and focus their hate on you. Then they say ‘you’re too sensitive’ when you want to defend someone. You’re put into this vulnerable situation.”
And another, her voice cracking near the end, said this:

People say things at school and people don’t say anything back because they think it’s a joke. They’ve heard it so often that it’s, ok like. It’s not like you can change what everyone says, so people don’t say anything back. And it’s “oh they could be joking,” even though you know they shouldn’t be joking about it. I personally don’t get bothered when people call me “beaner” because I can tell they’re joking but lately hearing it . . .I can tell they mean it.
Another noted that they heard such talk more often since the election: “people are saying that how it’s going on in the political area... it also makes me sad to see how a lot of things have become a joke because they’re surrounded by politics —like certain phobias, Islamophobia especially has become a joke.” A middle schooler noted that, “People think stereotypes are the facts and they use that in arguments. They say ‘Well most of them do that, so. . .’”
Given these pervasive national and school climate issues, students argued, they needed tools clarifying that words actually hurt, and tools for responding to peers when they say hurtful things. As one student put it, they needed help with “How to address certain things we feel uncomfortable with. If someone says something you’re uncomfortable with, we should discuss how we’re supposed to talk to them if they’re our peer. How to say ‘I’m uncomfortable with that, I don’t feel you should be saying that.’”

So, as many students urged, #USvsHate dialogues about hate and hateful words’ effects were crucial. “What we’re doing right now helps because it opens people’s minds to multiple perspectives. This with the posters will help raise awareness,” said one youth. Another mentioned a lesson using the ADL’s “pyramid of hate” as being effective for the “words that hurt” purpose, saying it caused “people to be like ‘woah, I’m on the pyramid of hate!’” Another student noted that, “This project you are doing, #USvsHate, has really sparked something in me – I used to use mean words like that for people, and now I've been thinking about the consequences for people. . .it’s made me really aware of how my actions and my words affect other people.” She also had started going home to have conversations with her parents about these issues. Another student wanted to start an #USvsHate club to scale the project to her peers.

Our one pilot with immigrant parents focused similarly on the need to address hurtful words and ideas. As the Family and Community Engagement pilot educator put it,

Parents said, “we want to continue talking about this.” One parent said, “My daughter has talked about name-calling and bullying, transgender this,” and they felt very empowered to understand terms they didn’t grow up hearing. They said “I’ve heard my daughter bring that up.”

Lessons chosen by parents covered Islamophobia, immigration, gender and heterosexism, all issues pervasive but underexplored in the community. Collaboration with a student diversity club was creating “a space for parents to talk about critical topics that their children bring to them and that they don’t talk about or receive education about.”

After these focus groups confirmed that slurs and derisive comments were daily forms of “hate” at schools, we decided to create a student-requested section of #USvsHate lessons under the banner Words Can Hurt, so that teachers have more tools to help peers understand the negative (and positive) power of everyday language. We are recommending for our scale-up that teachers try these Words Can Hurt special lessons after more introductory activities building relationship as needed in school communities.

Students also argued that student-made anti-hate messaging was key.

In one school where students said they heard cruel language multiple times a day, premade anti-bully/“no place for hate” posters were already on the walls before #USvsHate. But as one student explained, “When we walk into school, we’re so used to it (that particular poster) that it’s now nothing really new, people don’t listen to that anyway. It doesn’t change anything because it doesn’t pop out.” Another student explained that if an “authority figure,” Mr X, “came up to us and said ‘don’t bully people,’ it’s still kinda like, uhh. .. not genuine. Nobody really looks up to them or respects them.” As another middle schooler put it, “If people our age said it it’d be more respected”:

We see that poster on the library every day. It’s not new, vibrant, it doesn’t really stand
out. People don’t want to see something that old, for example. They don’t want to see my
grandma saying “don't hate people.” They wanna see kids who go through things on a
daily basis like we do, who relate to the struggles we are experiencing now.

A peer clarified that,

When kids see giant posters like “don’t hate,” some kids tend to make fun of it, like “they’re pushing it.” So if it was more student-led, like “hey, kids did that,” not like “teach you principles,” someone might look at that more, like “. . . hmm.” It needs to speak a message that relates to the people looking at it. The posters we have now . . . you’re passing over it and it’s like, “ok, it says some things that I’m supposed to follow, meh.”

In all, students made clear that an adult-made anti-hate poster on the wall doesn't itself create change. It was the #USvsHate process of students themselves discussing the issues/their experiences, then making anti-hate messages, that held promise.

Teachers said they welcomed #USvsHate’s inclusion lessons and dialogue supports.

In particular, teachers welcome the fact that #USvsHate does not only reach teachers who feel they are “super radical,” but any teacher.

The expanded leadership team piloting #USvsHate agreed that what one participant called “justice education professional development” is sorely lacking in schools and teacher education programs. They felt #USvsHate could provide a crucial entry point for people who feel isolated and anxious to try such curriculum, and who thus could benefit from a larger community working on such curricular efforts. In a post-election climate particularly, participants argued, teachers can benefit from a community of peers participating in similar activities simultaneously.

Teachers agreed that the “Getting Started” document (updated version on our new website. appropriately set the tone for including all of “US” in this project, meaning both all students and all teachers – not just “the choir” who already lead such activities routinely in their classrooms or clubs. As one lead teacher, Carmela, put it, even as “the great majority of these are not ‘dip your toe in’ conversations or topics,” one lesson to start down a larger road could be a crucial entry point. Teachers also said it was crucial to make space for these types of inclusion lessons in any subject, as well as in advisories and clubs. As Carmela, also a diversity club advisor, put it, “as a science teacher, it’s so hard to fit these sociocultural units into science – I do my best. . .otherwise, we stop doing these ‘be kind’ activities after elementary unless they are being punished. We don’t weave in that type of discourse on being a human.”

Educator participants argued that even while more-experienced educators could of course “do more with the project” than new educators, #USvsHate offers an important “low barrier to entry” way for any teacher to start to teach lessons about inclusion and diversity, alongside many colleagues and students elsewhere trying the same thing. At the same time, several were excited about using the resource list to develop multi-week or even year-long curricular efforts. As one group said, “our teachers would love to turn this into a full ninth grade unit. They would be able to build on it in 10, 11, 12th. The kids really care about it--they’re incredibly passionate.”

Yet pilot teachers also agreed that #USvsHate was not trying to offer a structured massive curriculum with this intervention. It simply opens the door to such further effort. Instead, one leader noted, “we are offering a host of resources that teachers can dip into depending on their comfort level, what they gravitate towards, what time they have, and what ‘hate’ issues are particularly relevant at their school and to their students (and their curriculum).”

Pilot teachers appreciated the freedom of being able to choose lessons from a broad, “gold mine” curated list.

Teacher Patrick, who showed the film Bully in his AVID (advisory) classes (producing this winning image), put it this way:

I really enjoyed the experience this year of searching through all of the resources and activities for something that felt like it fit my style as a teacher and my students' needs. Having the choice gave me more buy in. Eventually we could offer prepared units/curricula around a topic or depth level for those that don't want to go with the "a la carte" style we've got now.

The pilot team thus decided that, as one leader put it, “We are happy if teachers do one lesson, period, before inviting anti-hate message creation by students. We advise them to try doing a short series of 1-3 lessons. And we secretly hope they get inspired and try all the lessons over time.” One participating high school plans to do just this: AVID (Advisory) teachers tried a series of #USvsHate lessons with all 9th graders in their classes, and teachers now want to assemble the #USvsHate lessons and process into a curriculum that advisory classes could tap into across all four years of high school.

Still, participants found even single-lesson participation in #USvsHate valuable. Middle school teacher Erin chose a two-lesson inquiry that produced one winning student message:

I started off with: [the Anti-Defamation League’s] We Were Strangers Too: Learning about Refugees through Art. I had them do a gallery walk with the artwork on that one and we gave verbal feedback and had an overall discussion, tying it in with the Holocaust and the refugee situation during WWII. Then we did [from the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility]: Intersectionality: What Is It? How Can It Help Us? Students learn about the term "intersectionality," and consider what role it played in the 2017 and 2018 Women's Marches. I used the idea of intersectionality to bring in other ideas about identities, and seeing the people around them as not just one thing, but a person with a multiplicity of experiences.

Her students produced “Differences Make Us Beautiful,” a student choice for an Everywhere Message sticker.

Teachers decided three categories of lesson would best support teachers’ lesson choice.

The original pilot resource list was organized into four types of lessons framed as moving from introductory to deeper learning for students:

1) Initial Community Building Activities;

2) General Anti-Hate Lessons exploring overarching issues of hate and bias;

3) More Specific Anti-Hate Lessons on specific forms of hate needing attention in specific communities;

4) Going Deeper lessons that can achieve the ultimate purpose of #USvsHate: helping students to more fully know and value the people they share their school and community with.

After the pilot, we decided that the goal of “going deeper” in learning about peers and community was and should be woven throughout all lessons. So, we absorbed the fourth “Going Deeper” category into three lesson categories, and this is reflected in our resource list.

1) Community Building Activities setting norms and building inclusive relationships.
2) Foundational Anti-Hate Lessons exploring overarching issues of hate and bias, bullying, stereotypes, and ally behavior. (Includes new student-recommended section Words Can Hurt)
3) More Specific Anti-Hate Lessons on specific forms of hate needing attention in specific communities.

Teachers and students determined that the #USvsHate process should invite students to create anti-hate messaging in any media (not just posters) and after every lesson, not just “at the end” of a series of #USvsHate lessons.

Participants agreed that anti-hate message production gave students ongoing opportunities to put their reactions into public action. They thus determined that there was no need for students to wait until “the end” of a series of lessons to make anti-hate messaging. So, we decided that students should be encouraged to take action by creating anti-hate messaging after any #USvsHate lesson, to create an ongoing sense of engagement, urgency and collective messaging impact. We now highly recommend Teaching Tolerance’s “Do Somethings” and additional resources for this purpose.

Thus, for our fall 2018 scale-up, we are asking teachers to invite students to make and share anti-hate messaging after any lesson chosen. This way, teachers can invite student-made anti-hate “products” consistently, to create a sense of impact even with single introductory lessons. Our process documents will encourage participants to share any messaging locally, while honing “best” work to submit to two annual #USvsHate message contests for broader sharing. This will broaden the possibilities for ongoing and public anti-hate messaging beyond (and still including) the final poster/sticker contest originally envisioned as the sole “product” of #USvsHate participation.

Students urged us to let #USvsHate messages come in any media, not just posters, even as posters and stickers will remain a final product.

One student summed up that #USvsHate anti-hate messages should be invited in “More ways than a poster – essays, speeches, or spoken word poems, poetry, music, and videos. Those are all good ways to spark conversation.” Others suggested school assemblies and school newspaper stories could be additional #USvsHate messaging opportunities. While “posters and stickers could start the conversation,” a student summed up, other forms of product would also be “another good way to put all your ideas together,” and “help students process what they are learning.”

So, our scale-up will encourage students to create #USvsHate messaging in any media. Winning entries in all media will be shared digitally via our website and social media. We will also produce winning posters and stickers to be sent back free to participating classrooms. Our process document now says clearly that #USvsHate messages can come in any media:

Some winning entries will become full-size posters for classrooms; others will become stickers; others will be shared as videos or memes. A speech into a smartphone camera, a great letter to the editor, a poem, or a school performance can be an #USvsHate message. A potential poster or sticker can be drawn by hand on paper, or
created digitally using a phone or computer. Don’t limit your creativity!  ... Messages can offer powerful words and powerful visual images. You don’t have to be an amazing artist or filmmaker. The real power is the message.

Supporting students in the message creation process

We found that some students needed little guidance in creating #USvsHate anti-hate messages after doing lessons. As teacher Erin put it of her students making the “Differences Make Us Beautiful” message:
My group of girls had a great back and forth with each other before they started. I let them pick groups for this, so they were already comfortable with each other, and shared personal experiences and insights. They went back and forth for a few minutes before they landed on the idea of butterflies. All the credit for their image goes to them. I just gave them basic guidelines of making it easy to read, kind of summative of what they learned, not going too complex or overly detailed. I pointed out the artwork that I left up from the “We Were Strangers, too” project, and how those images condensed a lot of experience into a concise image. Then students took it from there!

Similarly, teacher Patrick’s student individually produced this winning message after her 9th-grade AVID class watched and discussed the film Bully. Teacher Kalie’s student went home and produced our winning poster message, a watercolor, on her own after a series of lessons on speaking up against hate.

Still, adult leaders felt that to be fully inclusive of less driven creators, a more robust and clear process for message critique and image production should be part of the scale-up. We now clearly highlight clear criteria for #USvsHate messages in the Getting Started guide to the #USvsHate process, and we outline a process where an audience of peers can offer feedback to student creators on how draft #USvsHate messages could be improved for final “submission.”

Students should be able to make #USvsHate messages on their own, without adult help.

We toyed with the notion of linking winning students with community graphic designers or graphic design teachers to professionalize and digitize their poster/sticker images. However, our pilot made clear that any requirement involving additional (unstipended) adults could create a barrier for students. In preparing final images for submission, the watercolor artist turned hers in on paper for scanning, and another figured out how to turn her image digital in the free Google Drawings program; in contrast, however, a middle school group had to rely on the help of a teacher’s husband to submit their final in our preferred “vector format” (ideal for production-ready images). It was obvious that many schools lack equipment and understanding for turning images digital. So, we continue to prioritize a message creation process that students can accomplish without adult help, trading off some professionalism of image for the freedom of youth-led production. For example, we will call submission of images in vector format “ideal,” but not required. In a Guide for student creators, we also now clearly encourage hand-drawn images, films made with available smartphones, and even no-tech “messages” like speeches, poems, or letters to the editor.

Thus, we are willing to trade professional level image quality for paper-based or non-digital entries to keep a “low barrier to entry” supporting any energized message-maker. At the same time, to help schools acquire the digital tools needed for producing highest-quality #USvsHate images (and to fund the physical production of winning posters and stickers), we are pursuing various sponsorships.

Preparing for scaleup

Our original “how to” documents were in Word, and sent to participating teachers by email. Teachers decided that “If there were a website that had all the instructions, links on there would make things so much easier.” We have now drafted a website (hosted on Pollock’s #Schooltalking site) to support the scaleup. We are finishing the website in August before scaleup.

In response to teachers overwhelmed by a “gold mine” resource list without annotation, we also have streamlined and curated our resource lists with suggestions next to each resource of likely time, materials, audience, and benefits. Teachers also wanted fewer standalone readings in favor of “full blown lessons for students,” so we created a special Professional Development section where stand-alone and professional development-oriented readings will “live” on the website.

We plan on embedding #USvsHate work deeply across San Diego schools and communities in fall 2018 and then scaling further across the region in spring 2019. Participants from anywhere in the country are also welcome to join us at any time. Our hope is that a broader national scaleup in fall 2019 would proceed in collaboration with Teaching Tolerance and the nearly 20 national teacher support organizations whose activities form the basis of the #USvsHate resource list.

Conclusion

There is an urgent need to equip educators as well as students with new tools for inclusive dialogue, messaging, and unifying action across social and political lines. In the complex wake of the 2016 election, many educators now feel unprecedented career risk if they discuss “controversial issues” at all with colleagues and students, much less issues of equity and inclusion -- even as educators know that schools remain perhaps the only place where Americans might talk across lines of demographic and political difference. Educators and students feel both increasingly isolated and anxious in their schools’ dialogue environments, and highly committed to engaging in equity-and inclusion-oriented dialogue. Students seek to glue their own school communities together. As two students put it after their participation in #USvsHate, “It’s better to teach the next generation than fix what’s broken in society” – “because when we get older it’s already like our mindset.” #USvsHate is stepping up to meet this need, with a collective creative action project inviting participation by all.

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