Classroom Strategies for Economic Crisis

As a new president takes the helm of a country facing an historic economic downturn, the Southern Poverty Law Center's Spring 2009 issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine offers classroom strategies to help teachers address the pressures that students, families and school systems inevitably face during harsh economic times.

The magazine, released today, is being distributed free of charge to more than 400,000 educators nationwide.

"Teaching in the Downturn" offers strategies for addressing the symptoms of an economic crisis that can spill into the classroom, such as parental substance abuse, classroom behavioral problems, school budget cuts and growing neighborhood poverty. Psychologist Melanie Killen discusses how educators can help their students cope during hard times, and social critic Meizhu Lui offers her take on where the crisis may lead us.

"There is no doubt that we are living in perilous times, but just as with each generation, change for the better can happen," said Lecia Brooks, director of the SPLC's Teaching Tolerance program. "This issue highlights the challenges educators face in the classroom and offers help for navigating these uncertain and challenging times."

The issue also includes an excerpt of President-elect Barack Obama's historic March 2008 speech on race, "A More Perfect Union," and provides questions to help teachers foster classroom discussions that can lead to a deeper understanding about race and diversity.

The latest issue of Teaching Tolerance can be read at

Education, race and social class also are examined in "Crossing the Gap," which shows how students in a racially and socially segregated Chicago school system organized a diverse grassroots movement that crossed barriers as they demanded equality in school funding. Their courageous deeds are reminiscent of the 1969 Mexican-American student-led revolt against unfair school regulations in Crystal City, Texas, that set the stage for the Latino civil rights movement. That story is revisited in "Walkout in Crystal City."

Teaching Tolerance magazine, published twice a year by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is the nation's leading journal serving educators on diversity issues. In 2007, the magazine was named Periodical of the Year by the Association of Educational Publishers for the second consecutive year. Teaching Tolerance films have garnered four Academy Award nominations and won two Oscars.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala., is a nonprofit civil rights organization that combats bigotry and discrimination through litigation, education and advocacy. For more information, see