Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 much discussion and debate has taken place among educators and on college campuses as to how the U.S. should respond, the history of U.S. foreign policy and whether or not the Bush sdministration’s policies will actually stop terrorism.

The Oakland Education Association (OEA) Executive Board passed a motion Sept. 20 in sympathy with the victims and pledging to be a “voice for non-violence, defense of democratic rights and civil liberties and resistance to ethnic and religious scapegoat.”

The OEA prioritized helping students deal with the crisis emotionally, reflect on the issues involved and “find stability in the classroom.”

The OEA also supported Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) in her lone vote against the war, “even while wishing to seek justice in this case.”

The current issue of Rethinking Schools, a non-profit progressive education publication, features a special report, “War, Terrorism, and America’s Classrooms: Teaching in the Aftermath of the September 11th Tragedy,” which offers articles from people like author and Professor Steven Jay Gould and parents Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez, whose son was killed at the World Trade Center.

The report also offers ideas for classroom discussions that will “help students and teachers alike come to grips with what happened that day and what has happened since, notably the war in Afghanistan.”

Hampshire College in Massachusetts voted Dec. 6 to condemn Bush’s war on terrorism and proposed alternative solutions to ending terrorism. Perhaps the first in the nation, the whole college community – students, faculty and staff – voted 693-121 for the resolution.

“Our community has spoken,” said Michael Sherrard, an organizer with Hampshire Students for a Peaceful Response, which sponsored the vote. “We refuse to fall into silent support for an unjust war that kills innocents overseas and threatens our safety and civil liberties at home.”

Organizers defended the right to free expression of those who disagreed with the vote. “As a diverse community of strong individuals, there are some at Hampshire who do not support our views. Even if they are in the minority, their opinions and rights to free expression must be respected. We wish that politicians and the media would extend the same respect to those of us who oppose this unjust war, or who happen to bear the same skin tone as Osama bin Laden,” said Donald Jackson, also a member of Students for a Peaceful Response.

The resolution linked the war on terrorism to racial profiling and the assault on civil liberties here as well as the brunt workers bear in this economic crisis at the expense of the corporate looting policies of the Bush administration.

Educators at Evergreen State College in Washington signed a statement that condemns the attacks of Sept. 11, supports the use of international tribunals to bring to justice those who committed the acts and also encourages the U.S. to break the cycle of violence by ending the war and not extending it further.

They also advocated that universities recognize a diversity of views stating, “We urge all educational institutions to strongly support the academic freedom of their faculty, staff and students and to publicly discuss the issues surrounding the current crisis.”

The right-wing American Council of Trustees and Alumni headed by Lynne Cheney (wife of Vice President Dick Cheney) has been harassing and targeting faculty who oppose or even seek to discuss alternative policies to the war on terrorism.

A petition is being circulated by the Chicago-based Center for Economic Research and Social Change, opposing such anti-democratic actions. Academics and others are urged to “speak out strongly in defense of academic freedom and civil liberties, not just as an abstract principle but as a practical necessity.”

The petition warns that attacks on faculty who have questioned or dissented from the Bush administration’s current war policy have coincided with other ominous developments.

Colleges and universities are being pressured by agencies of the federal government to hand over confidential information from student files, as well as by Congressional moves to limit visas for students from abroad.

Full text of resolutions and other resources available through this link.