NYSUT member Joe Karb is always amazed at how K-12 students can bring a serious discussion about human rights down to its simplest form.
"My students have a great sense of empathy, and they really understand fairness," says Karb, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade social studies in the Springville- Griffith Institute Central School District, south of Buffalo. Karb is a member of the Springville Faculty Association.
That insight inspired Karb and his colleague Ben Higgins to redesign the national "Speak Truth to Power" video contest they originally created for students in grades 6-12 and bring it to elementary students. That contest is co-sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers, NYSUT and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
The new project — "Everyone Has Rights" — is open to K-5 students throughout the state and invites them to create a 60- to 90-second public service announcement centered on a theme from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The U.N. declaration sets out more than two dozen basic rights, including freedom from slavery, the need for safe workplaces and protection against forced marriage.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for students to combine creative energy with technology, and learn about the worldwide desire for dignity," said NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler.
A panel of volunteers will judge the public service announcements and will select 20 classrooms to be recognized, with each classroom receiving $100 for supplies and $75 for a class celebration.
Videos are due April 1. Watch www.nysut.org for more details about how to enter submissions.