VINELAND, N.J. (CBS)–As history teachers like to say, one of the reasons we study the past is so we don’t make the same mistakes.
If the deadly clashes last month in Charlottesville, Virgina are any indication, America still has a lot to learn about racism.
“As things happened over the summer it just gave me a sad feeling to watch our country coming apart over racism, intolerance and so forth,” says Ross Stanger.
As supervisor of instruction and social studies for Vineland Public Schools, Stanger wanted to incorporate something new this year to promote tolerance.
Fellow administrator JoAnne Negrin, who oversees the foreign languages department, had the same goal.
She suggested doing what the town where she lives Cherry Hill did this year, putting out signs for the “Hate Has No Home Here” campaign.
Then they decided to take it a step further and put the initiative into the curriculum as part of the district’s character education program.
“We want the students to embody through projects what it means to be tolerant and respectful of all the different people,” says Stanger.
Projects will incorporate the latest technologies like having students create their own movies and podcasts promoting tolerance and diversity.
“We want to drive home the point that this is a community that welcomes everyone,” says Negrin.
School officials say the anti-racism lessons won’t just be limited to just a single unit within social studies and history classes but it’s something they’ll work into the curriculum throughout the school year.
“Hate is not something that you’re born with. Hate is something that you’re taught, as is the idea of tolerance and respect for people,” says Stanger.