While many students across the Omaha and Council Bluffs areas had Monday, Feb. 18, off of school due to the President's Day holiday, a group of approximately 50 students and their teachers joined UNO students and faculty at the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center in a deliberation exercise on the topic of banning of hate speech in the United States.
Participating students from Omaha Burke High School, Omaha North High School, Kanesville Alternative School, Mary Our Queen Middle School and Millard North High School had previously spent time in their classrooms learning and practicing skills for discussing controversial topics; however, Monday marked the first time the students had an opportunity to come together and use these skills with peers from other schools.
Teachers from other participating schools, Omaha Bryan Middle School, Omaha Central High School and Omaha Buffett Middle School, were also in attendance to help facilitate discussions.
Connie Schaffer, associate professor of teacher education, helped organize the event, which is called "New Perspectives in Deliberation."
"Our deliberation followed a process developed by Street Law, an international nonprofit organization that helps develop classroom and community programs to educate young people about law and government," she explained. "All the teachers and I were trained on this method this past summer, and the teachers have been leading deliberations in their classrooms this year. In addition to the Omaha and Council Bluffs schools, students from the Denver and Washington D.C. area are also participating in these deliberations."
Students and community members completed a pre-assessment prior to the deliberation. Following Monday's event, each teacher will have their students fill out a follow up assessment to highlight lessons learned and knowledge gained about the deliberative process and the role the law and government play in responding to issues of hate speech.
We had a great deliberation today! Thanks to all the community members and of course to @ConnieSchaffer3 for all her hard work. It was amazing to hear so many kids share their ideas in a safe and structured format. Thanks @StreetLawInc for all the work you do!— Mrs. Stowe (@mrs_stowe) February 18, 2019
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.