Washington, DC, home of The Education Town Hall, was the first jurisdiction to become a “Human Rights City” in 2008, in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A follow-up report noted challenges for the District in human rights education and, more generally, in education reform. Human Rights education received a grade of “C” in the report; public education, “D.” Today, only one of the five education-related recommendations has been realized here in the District.
“We encourage DC residents, local authorities and organizations committed to human rights to use this report and its recommendations and join together to insure that our community lives up to the ideal of a Human Rights City for meaningful positive economic and social change,” authors of the Human Rights report concluded in February 2012. Much is yet to accomplish.
How is education, a basic human right, faring in your jurisdiction?
Is human rights education thriving in your hometown?
Education Recommendations and DC Response
- The DC Council has re-established its Education Committee.
- DC has not responded to the 2008 GAO report on DC’s Education Reform Act, particularly calls for streamlining what the report called “six costly educational agencies with complicated bureaucracy and redundant functions.” Moreover, mandated evaluations due as part of that legislation have not materialized.
- DC has not re-established an independent office to handle parent needs.
- DC has not reversed the pattern of closing neighborhood schools, instead increasing it.
- Although Georgetown’s Street Law program, which includes a human rights component, remains strong, additional support of human rights education in DC schools has not increased.
The Education Town Hall is broadcast Thursdays at 11 a.m. (Eastern) on We Act Radio.
Listen on-line at We Act Radio
In the DC Metro Area: WPWC 1480 AM
Full recordings are archived for later discussion and sharing.
Join the (live) conversation by calling 202-889-9797.
Human Rights in DC
The “Human Rights City” concept was developed by the People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning and the American Friends Service Committee‘s D.C. Peace and Economic Justice Program. AFSC is an organization working for Quaker values, including peace and social justice, around the world. In honor of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Year of Human Rights Learning, these organizations urged DC and other jurisdictions to take on the mantle of “human rights city.”
The 2012 report, “Human Rights in DC,” was a collective effort of several organizations and individuals. It includes evaluations and recommendations in areas including health, housing, poverty reduction, and racial discrimination as well as education. Here is the HRC Report Appendix, with important supporting documents.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. It grew out of the experience of was the Second World War. The United States was among those developing the Declaration and ratifying it, but it does not have the status of law. Since then a number of specific, legally binding, treaties have been developed, signed and ratified by many nations of the world. The U.S. is a signatory on many of these but has yet to ratify some key treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Here is an “unofficial summary” of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Unofficial Summary: Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 1 All human beings are born free and equal.
Article 2 Everyone is entitled to the same rights without discrimination of any kind.
Article 3 Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security.
Article 4 No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
Article 5 No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 6 Everyone has the right to be recognized everywhere as a person before the law.
Article 7 Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection of the law.
Article 8 Everyone has the right to justice.
Article 9 No one shall be arrested, detained, or exiled arbitrarily.
Article 10 Everyone has the right to a fair trial.
Article 11 Everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Article 12 Everyone has the right to privacy.
Article 13 Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and to leave and return to one’s country.
Article 14 Everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution.
Article 15 Everyone has the right to a nationality.
Article 16 All adults have the right to marry and found a family. Women and men have equal rights to marry, within marriage, and at its dissolution.
Article 17 Everyone has the right to own property.
Article 18 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Article 19 Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
Article 20 Everyone has the right to peaceful assembly and association.
Article 21 Everyone has the right to take part in government of one’s country.
Article 22 Everyone has the right to social security and to the realization of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for dignity.
Article 23 Everyone has the right to work, to just conditions of work, to protection against unemployment, to equal pay for equal work, to sufficient pay to ensure a dignified existence for one’s self and one’s family, and the right to join a trade union.
Article 24 Everyone has the right to rest and leisure.
Article 25 Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services.
Article 26 Everyone has the right to education.
Article 27 Everyone has the right to participate freely in the cultural life of the community.
Article 28 Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which these rights can be realized fully.
Article 29 Everyone has duties to the community.
Article 30 No person, group or government has the right to destroy any of these human rights.No one human right can violate another.
–prepared in honor of the 60th anniversary of the UDHR, by PDHRE, People’s movement for Human Rights Learning