Oakland teens to be schooled in human rights

Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Rigoberta Menchu, Susan B. Anthony, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and Winston Churchill will be cast in stone, side by side, in a new bronze sculpture, “Remember Them,” to be installed in downtown Oakland. 

And, as soon as it’s completed, every Oakland high school student will study the “lives and lessons” of  these human rights leaders in a mandatory curriculum designed by the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.

Mario Chiodo, an Oakland artist, chose 25 people to feature in the installment. He is donating his time for the Oakland Chamber of Commerce Foundation project and some art students will have a chance to work with him on the piece, according to the “Remember Them” Web site.

Tomorrow, the Oakland Rotary is donating $40,000 to the educational aspect.  

Which major historical figures are typically studied in Oakland schools? Are there certain leaders who are studied in fifth grade, and others in sixth grade, or are some of the more well known figures — such as Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr. — taught every year?

It seems like it would be difficult to choose which leaders to study, since there are so many. Which do you think deserve more exposure?

images from the Remember Them Web site

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    Do you know in what classes this will be taught? Starting when?

  • Nextset

    More left wing political indoctrination using the Oakland public school students as captive audiences.

    The selection of which figures to study are very predictable. Socialist & Collectivist figures will dominate.

    The students would be better served by Western Civilization, Industrial History, Military History, Economic History or other such fields. Or maybe just concentrating on reading, writing, and math.

    I don’t have a problem with indoctrination of the young – most succesful and expansionist societies such as Red China and the Mormons are big into indoctrination.

    I just don’t like setting the students up to fail in competition with their likely future adversaries (Ivy league classmates, Nursing school classmates, boot camp cadets, whatever…).

    This program is a mistake. It’s another feel-good thing that puts the kids further behind in competing for survival in this Brave New World.

  • Katy Murphy

    Jesse: I’m not sure — I think the timing depends on the completion of the sculpture. I presume it would be woven into the social studies curriculum somewhere. What do you think about the class?

  • oakie

    If the students of OUSD could only add and subtract and multiply and divide, then, maybe. Priorities.

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  • Teri Gruenwald

    I am really interested in the lesson planning behind this project and what the students will be reading and writing in reaction to this. It sounds to me (a middle school history and language arts teacher) like a wonderful way to weave in key skills in the core academic subjects of history, reading and writing while teaching students about significant people who have changed the world. And for the most part, these people were ordinary human beings who did something extraordinary–a lesson for all of us–and how what they did has had an impact on our lives as well. For example, Susan B. Anthony’s dedication to suffrage for women leads directly to the 19th amendment and what a great story that is. And that’s what history should be–the great stories of people making history.

  • Nextset

    Teri G: I’m not saying there isn’t some merit in studying individuals who “did something extraordinary” – Thomas Edison comes to mind. My concern is an old one, that OUSD and the other Urban districts very carefully fill their kids with the notion that they are victims who need to disobey authority.

    In this way the Urban kids become different and distinct from those who tend to become a higher socioeconomic class. Some of this indoctrination would be better suited for older students and all of it should be tempered by indocrination to obey authority while seeking to become part of it (then turning the boat’s course). There is a difference..

    It’s this sort of indoctrination that preceedes 15 or 16 year olds walking out of class to “protest” a school employee’s termination and getting into an altercation with the city police, for example.

    Focusing on “protests”, civil unrest and radicals is unhealthy for urban youth when they should be focusing on captains of industry and commerce, WWII, or perhaps the Depression of 1929-1940 – or maybe Civics in general which is sorely missing from teens and adults lately. It is no accident that this program is being pushed. There is quite an agenda going on – it just doesn’t lead to successful, self sufficient adulthood for the kids.

  • Sharon

    Nextset said: “More left wing political indoctrination using the Oakland public school students as captive audiences.” This definitely goes on, of course.

    My older daughter had a “sociology and culture” teacher at Skyline who verbally attacked her during a class discussion because she had revealed that her father was in the U.S. Navy Reserve. This teacher responded to her that her father, then, was one of the “killers.” She tried to present her views, but his open hostility nearly brought her to tears.

    We discussed the matter at home, not wanting to get into a big, nasty confrontation with the teacher. Today I would be much, much more assertive with that situation. Of course, we never respected the teacher after that. And of course, he constantly tried to indoctrinate his students about his personal political beliefs all year long. He must have loved having this sort of power.

    I don’t mind if students are instructed about the accomplishments of world leaders, but the school leadership needs to be strong and admonish teachers to not spew their one-sided extremist views to students.

  • Nextset

    Sharon: It’s good training for your daughter to be exposed to that Thug of a teacher. People like that can usually be manipulated into a total loss of their composure by an experienced critical thinker who poses a few critical questions the hostile zealot can’t handle.

    The public schools are not only failure factories but they are indoctrination centers for anti-Western Culture misfits to work in. It’s too bad that good children have to attend these places.

    Sunshine is a good disinfectant. The name and conduct of a public school employee who would disparage members of our armed forces should have been publicized with formal and public complaints to the school district.

    As far as the indoctrination, it’s common practice for left wing America haters in authority in public schools to give failing grades to those who publicly disagree with their politics. So your child has to be warned about exactly how to handle these situation. Repeating what was said publicly with attribution as to when and where the comments were made is useful. For example, asking the principal at a large public gatherings what she thinks of such statements by this teacher.

    Untimately your child should not have to be in such a school. But people get by a well as they think they can.

  • John

    When I first saw the heading of this post I was hoping Afro Americans might be taking a class in respecting the rights of Asian Americans on Oakland buses and elsewhere. I once worked with a church organization serving the Asian American community, a primary concern of many was getting harassed, ridiculed, and worse by Afro Americans. Yes siree, a good schooling in human rights, for one group of hyphenated-Americans in particular, is just what the doctor ordered. Maybe even the likes of Doctor Martin Luther King!

  • Nextset

    John: Acting out in public is one of the problems with people having unreasonable and unearned self esteem. If the black kids went to decent public schools, believe me, they would not be acting out on buses and anywhere else in public.

    And by “decent” public schools I mean schools that are worthy of the term – schools that discipline the students, not pacify them for a few hours and send them home worse than before.

    Our urban schools including OUSD refuse to discipline students because they are black. A form of racism.

  • Abuela Araña

    I love the idea of a work of public art that features an international cast of visionary people to serve as a touchpoint for students to examine the role of the individual in the world. Winston Churchill? Fascinating people with tangential relationships to human rights, I’d say, but maybe I don’t know enough about them.
    Nelson Mandela? Rosa Luxemborg? Like Abraham Lincoln and all the rest, creatures of their historical period who did something to advance the cause of human rights, despite their frailties. I applaud the project and appreciate the participation of the artist and sponsors.