Teacher Starts Educators' Group To Oppose Nuclear Arms
By Stephanie DeAbreu Special to Education Week
Concerned that educators "are leaving to others" the task of alerting young people to the dangers of nuclear war, Roberta Snow, a teacher and administrator in the Brookline, Mass., public school system, has founded Edu cators for Social Responsibility (esr) to mo bilize opposition to the nuclear-arms buildup.
The new organization joins the ranks of such anti-nuclear-war groups as Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Lawyer's Alli ance for Nuclear Arms Control, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
"I saw the physicians organize, the lawyers organize, and I was aware of the many peace groups springing up all over the country," said Ms. Snow, "and I realized, as educators, we were letting others educate people for the fu ture when this was our responsibility. We have the greatest responsibility of any of the professional groups, yet we have remained si lent."
The goals of esr, Ms. Snow said, are to work to reduce the threat of nuclear war, to promote peace, and to seek alternatives to war.
To help achieve those goals, she explained, esr is working with state and national teachers' unions to convince them that teach ers have the responsibility to initiate class room debate about nuclear war and to adopt statements on nuclear disarmament. She add ed that the organization is also becoming ac tive in local politics and is lobbying school boards to support educational programs aimed at increasing awareness of the dangers of nuclear war.
esr plans to serve as a resource and infor mation center, according to Ms. Snow. She added that esr is also searching for people who have found appropriate ways of teaching such subjects in schools. (See Commentary on page 24.)
As coordinator of The Nuclear Program for Facing History and Ourselves in the Brook line school system, Ms. Snow has developed a pilot course for high-school students called "Decision Making in the Nuclear Age." The course, which can run from six weeks to an entire semester, deals with the technology of nuclear weapons and related social, political, economic, and ethical issues, she said.
Working out of her office in the administra tion building of the Brookline school system, Ms. Snow said she and an associate field up to 50 inquiries a day about esr
The queries, she said, come from teachers, administrators, and parents who want to know more about nuclear issues and the best ways to present the issues, share their con cerns with their colleagues, and develop cur ricula for use in the schools.
Although esr's first priority at this point is to help educators work within school sys tems, Ms. Snow believes the organization could also play an important role in educating "mainstream America" about the dangers of nuclear weapons. Toward that end, Ms. Snow says, the group plans to sponsor public work shops on nuclear-arms issues.
esr publishes a bimonthly newsletter to inform its members and to provide a forum for educators to discuss their activities and programs.
Ms. Snow said local chapters of esr are be ing organized in California, New York City, central New Jersey, western Massachusetts, Cape Cod, the Baltimore-Washington area, and elsewhere throughout the country.
For further information about esr, contact Educators for Social Responsibility, Box 1041, Brookline Village, Mass. 02147.