Proposal to establish a Los Angeles baccalaureate high school peace education program

Editor’s Introduction

We share this proposal by Greg Foisie to establish a Los Angeles baccalaureate high school peace education program in hopes that his conviction and plans may inspire others to take similar action.  Many peace education efforts, particularly within US schools, are non-formal and led by external organizations.  Greg’s call to establish a more formalized and comprehensive baccalaureate program is rooted in the rationale that such an approach is necessary to prepare learners as agents of peace and to contribute to long-term educational structural change where peace becomes central to the curricula and pedagogy. Please consider giving Greg feedback on his proposal, and if you happen to be in the Los Angeles area consider lending your support.  Have you developed a similar proposal for peace education to be implemented in your community? If so, please contact us

Author’s Preface: A Change of Consciousness Is Required

My name is Greg Foisie.  During my entire adult life I have endeavored to be a peace advocate.  Since the 1960s I have participated in over 40 movements and other efforts to address violence in support of creating peace in the USA and around the world.  The one activity to which I committed the most attention, engagement, and energy in this regard was the Arlington West Memorial in Santa Monica, California – a project of Veterans for Peace Los Angeles. Volunteer US military veterans and their associates (of which I was one) installed this memorial one acre plus in size, and then removed it & stored it at the end of each Sunday.  This was done every weekend for sixteen years without ever missing a Sunday.  Several times every year the memorial was up for entire weekends. (For more background, see the 2006 film about the memorial by Sally Marr & Peter Dudar and HAiR Visits ARLINGTON WEST.)

The memorial was placed at the Pacific Ocean’s edge adjacent to the Santa Monica Pier – a world-wide tourist destination.  It was one of dozens of similar installations along the Pacific Coast and across the USA, and was meant to respectfully but impactfully illustrate the human cost of war to a public that has for generations acquiesced to the inclination to engage in warfare in spite wars’ horrific toll.  Most of these wars are based on lies that have led us into conflicts amounting to acts of war crimes and genocide.  During its early years, not a single Sunday would go by when a number of people would break down in tears when seeing the memorial, giving evidence of its emotional impact.

The Santa Monica Pier has approximately 10,000 visitors every Sunday.  Over 16 years eight million people saw this memorial.  Well into its tenure, I came to realize that the memorial – as impactful as it was – was not able to significantly implement a change in my society enabling it to denounce and renounce violence.  Despite the pronouncements and work of thousands of peace activists over the past 500 hundred years, our society remains fully addicted to war.

What follows is a product born of frustration.  At about 65 years of age, I left full-time dedication to the memorial and returned to school.  Eventually I obtained a master’s degree in peace education through Graduate Interdisciplinary Studies at California State University Los Angeles.  It was in finding the academic discipline peace education that I believe we have a way as a society to change our consciousness, relinquish our addiction to war, and begin to establish positive peace.  With peace education’s bodies of knowledge, skills, values – with new attitudes and behaviors nurtured by peace education scholars – we can change.  With deep reflection into our human identity, memory, life, morality, and the adoption of new perspectives, we can become peaceful and end peacelessness as we know it.

Every summer, Los Angeles regional high school students came to volunteer at the Arlington West Memorial.  These students were brought there by peace clubs and high school teachers to help them meet community service credits required to graduate.  I would almost always ask these students if they would take a high school course in peace if it was offered to them.  There were always some students who said yes, they would take such a course if it was made available.

Proposal to establish a Los Angeles baccalaureate high school peace education program (BHSPEP)

By Greg Foisie

Introduction

Throughout the world, when societies get serious about achieving certain goals, they seek to acquire abilities to excel in specific human endeavors.  At such times societies teach knowledge & skills that are necessary to achieve those goals by creating academic programs focusing on those subjects.  This was the incentive for the establishment of US public education in pursuit of worker literacy.

Recently in US history, efforts have been created that led to “new” subjects being taught in high schools: Chicano(Latinos)/Mexican American, African American, Asian American & Pacific Islander, & Native American Studies –  often encapsulated into Ethnic Studies – subjects now formally introduced in public American high schools that did not exist in them half a century ago.   According to state law come 2030, California high school students must take at least one semester of ethnic studies in order to graduate.

Peace is a goal sought by people & societies.  The firmly established academic discipline of peace education offers comprehensive knowledge about peace.  A baccalaureate high school peace education program has been drafted for implementation in the greater Los Angeles Region based on the enhanced, comprehensive formal peace education model described herein.  It is proposed that peace educators form a non-profit, volunteer organization to finalize this high school peace education curriculum, herein titled the Baccalaureate High School Peace Education Program, or BHSPEP.

The program’s foundation is the research and theories of academics such as Elise M. Boulding, David Cortright, Betty Reardon, Johan Galtung, the Bouldings, Tony Jenkins, Ian M. Harris, George Lakey, Mary Lee Morrison, James Page, Gene Sharp, Toh Swee-Hin, Dale T. Snauwaert, Vandana Shiva, Colman McCarthy – to name a few.  The program also studies the peace advocacy of peacebuilders such as Emily Greene Balch, Albert Einstein, Jeanette Rankin, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Reverend James Lawson, Dorothy Day and Peter Morin, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, J. D. Krishnamurti, Peace Pilgrim, Blase & Teresa Bonpane, Mahatma Gandhi, and other notable figures.

Students in this baccalaureate high school peace education program will learn all about these individuals and their life’s work.  In doing so, this baccalaureate high school peace education program bridges the approaches of peace scholarship theory and peace advocacy action, and provides a thorough understanding of how peace can be achieved, helping to bring “positive peace” into existence.

This baccalaureate high school peace education program bridges the approaches of peace scholarship theory and peace advocacy action and provides a thorough understanding of how peace can be achieved, helping to bring “positive peace” into existence.

Established Public Interest & Funding for Peace Education

There are on-going student movements across the USA focused on peacelessness issues such as gun violence, global warming, bullying, racism, etc.  Anecdotal evidence and a recent social survey have indicated that there is significant public interest in providing peace education in public high schools in the greater Los Angeles region of California.

Anecdotal evidence and a recent social survey have indicated that there is significant public interest in providing peace education in public high schools in the greater Los Angeles region of California.

Funds are available to establish a non-profit council to develop a baccalaureate high school peace education program in LA.  Connections already exist between interested peace educators and stakeholders in the Los Angeles Unified School District and other public and private school systems in Southern California to continue a peace education program development.

BHSPEP Description

The proposed Baccalaureate High School Peace Education Program (BHSPEP) is to be a for-credit secondary school certificate program.  Its curriculum is to be comprised of a series of baccalaureate-level peace education courses taught by peace education teachers having completed post-secondary training in peace education.

As a baccalaureate, for-credit program, BHSPEP would serve two main purposes: 1) to formally “teach peace” in high schools based on an enhanced, comprehensive introduction to the bona fide academic discipline of peace education, and 2) to help prepare the students taking these courses for college and university life.  In order to facilitate the program’s creation, engagement and effectiveness, it is suggested that initially BHSPEP: 1) be construed as a for-credit elective activity; 2) be offered as an academic certificate program also granting post-secondary credits, and; 3) that its courses be offered both before and after (not during) regular school hours.

It is proposed that the program be maintained by a non-profit, all volunteer council, whose volunteers would continue to develop and copyright its curriculum as a council and support the program’s provision in schools.  In addition, the peace educators establishing BHSPEP would seek accreditation of the program in some fashion.  Completion of its courses would be counted for post–secondary credits by colleges and university agreeing to recognize such earned credits.

Proposed BHSPEP Format

Program completion would entail high school graduates successfully passing six or seven or more BHSPEP courses over their sophomore, junior and senior years.  (An initial, required course may be taken by qualifying freshmen in their 3rd or 4th quarter.)  A single course would be completed in one high school quarter/semester of approximately 10-15 weeks’ duration.  Program courses could be grouped under four categories fulfilling the program’s dual purposes of Peace education and post-secondary school preparation:  Peace education Theory & Practice, Literature Review, Historical/Comparative Analysis, and Self Inquiry.  In addition to teaching these aspects of Peace education, each course would have components reviewing and developing scholastic abilities and life skills engendering success in college undertakings.

The program would utilize a pedagogy that expands interdisciplinary contributions, actively engages student interest, enlivens student involvement in class activities and assignments, and educates for the purpose of empowerment. 

BHSPEP’s comprehensive peace education presentation is to be “enhanced” by its broad approach to the study of peace education.  The program would utilize a pedagogy that expands interdisciplinary contributions, actively engages student interest, enlivens student involvement in class activities and assignments, and educates for the purpose of empowerment.  A one-day field trip during a weekend per course would introduce students to a post secondary environment or peace service activity.

Helping Students Succeed in Post-Secondary Studies

A further “enhancement” and added appeal for BHSPEP content will be its provision of post-secondary credits and its preparation of high school students for the college and university experience.  It would incorporate support for review and improvement of students’ effective use of grammar and vocabulary; utilize practice exercises in reading and essay writing; improve study & test preparation abilities; assign team projects and oral classroom presentations; and introduce students to critical thinking, scholarly debate, and academically-applied technical skills.

This program’s overall focus is one that engages students & prepares them to succeed in academic life.

Additionally, the BHSPEP enhanced peace education baccalaureate agenda would introduce students to post-secondary environment expectations & resources.  It would recount “Living Life” basics nurturing success in school work and the capabilities to live responsibly away from home & on one’s own.  Peace education incentives, a spirit of mentorship, and Common Core requirement fulfillment would be imbedded into each BHSPEP course’s lesson plan as well.

This program’s overall focus is one that engages students & prepares them to succeed in academic life.

Suggested BHSPEP Curriculum and Scheduling

It is proposed that there be 5 required courses for BHSPEP certificate completion.  In addition, each student would select 1-2 or more electives and pass them to meet the program’s certificate graduation requirements of 6-7 or more completed courses in a quarter year calendar.  Every course would be completed within one school’s quarter/semester term.

The program is to be operated under provisions established by the non-profit council creating this baccalaureate high school peace education program.  Nonprofit peace educator volunteers would establish the BHSPEP course content that would then be formally approved by each school’s administration prior to implementation.

All BHSPEP courses are to be taught by each school’s teaching staff who have received post-secondary training in the academic discipline of peace education.  BHSPEP courses would be offered by a high school’s administration through its employed Peace education teachers as extracurricular, credited activities, both immediately before and after regular school days.

As every course would require student participation in a 1 weekend day excursion to support peace or post—secondary school experience, this field trip would be scheduled before the beginning of each school term as well.  The student and family would be informed of the trip’s assigned date and the mandatory requirement, and they would agree in writing that the student would participate in this activity.

The Proposed Los Angeles BHSPEP Council (CBHSPEP-LACA)

The Council for the Baccalaureate High School Peace Education Program in Los Angeles California (CBHSPEP-LACA) is to be an all-volunteer organization approaching 501 (c) (3) non-profit status in California through pending support from Community Partners (https://communitypartners.org).  The council will maintain copyright of its BHSPEP-authored content.  Once the curriculum is created by CBHSPEP-LACA, the non-profit’s efforts would be directed toward updating and accrediting curriculum & enabling students and school administrations to establish peace education in their schools.

Another council objective is that BHSPEP-involved students and families not incur any additional financial scholastic costs directly related to BHSPEP participation.  In addition to creating and promoting BHSPEP and providing course syllabi at no cost, CBHSPEP-LACA’s intent is to loan BHSPEP texts (unless students desired to purchase their own) and provide specific BHSPEP resource materials (handouts, supplies, etc.) to each schools’ BHSPEP participants.  This council would seek to meet its costs through donations, grants, and fund-raising activities such as craft/bake sales, raffles, benefit concerts, readings and book signings, elders’ presentations, movie showcases, etc.  No/low cost office space is available for CBHSPEP-LACA’s use in LA County.

CBHSPEP-LACA Agreements with School Administrations and Districts

Each schools’ teachers & administrations will oversee BHSPEP implementation in their respective school/s along with the required loan and return of council-provided BHSPEP-LACA course texts and other reference materials. 

The schools would be contractually responsible for all BHSPEP operational costs, including: hiring peace educators trained in the academic discipline of peace education, administering BHSPEP, meeting all course field trip expenses, providing certificates of completion for the program, and establishing and maintaining all of the academic records of student BHSPEP accomplishments.

The details of BHSPEP and program participation would be provided to each student and their families prior to registration in the program, with signed agreements and approval from them acknowledging 1) return of all loaned council texts; 2) permission for the student to go on a required one-day, weekend field trip during each BHSPEP course that will relate to a peace or post-secondary experience; and 3) participation in BHSPEP course non-identifying program evaluations and data collection.

BHSPEP Endorsement and Sponsorship

Individuals and organizations are invited to endorse or sponsor BHSPEP.  Endorsement implies agreement with the program’s principles and purposes as outlined herein.  Sponsorship combines endorsement for BHSPEP with active engagement in the council’s efforts to promote and sustain BHSPEP in any way affirmed by the council, which may include volunteering for council work, i.e. tabling or assistance at specific events such as field trip chaperoning; fund raising; consultation; financial support; grant proposal writing; etc.

Are You Interested?

Please consider participating in the establishment of this Los Angeles council to finalize this formal, baccalaureate high school peace education program that will teach peace as an academic subject.  BHSPEP will direct students to address our serious socio-environmental problems & establish positive peace in our individualized and collective experience.  If you would like more information, please contact me.

Thank you.    Greg Foisie – Peace educator   gfoisie@yahoo.com

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