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On ‘Day Without A Woman,’ school’s on in New York City — but expect some red shirts and women’s history

The Women's March in New York City.
The Women's March in New York City.
Sarah Darville

As women across the country boycott work Wednesday, eighth-grade teacher Sarah Merchlewitz is going to school — but it won’t be business as usual in her classroom.

“Yes, we’re showing up,” Merchlewitz said, “but we’re taking a stand.”

She and her co-teacher, who teach at M.S. 324 in Washington Heights, are ditching regular lesson plans for a class in women’s history. She plans to start with Hillary Clinton’s speech in 1995 in China in which she famously declared, “women’s rights are human rights.” Then, her students will read parts of articles and biographies featuring women throughout history.

The national protest called “A Day Without a Woman” encourages women to wear red and stay home from work to showcase the value women bring to the economy and workforce. It’s an extension of the Women’s March on Washington that took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration.

Two school districts in Virginia and North Carolina have already cancelled classes since a number of staff members planned to stay home. In New York City, schools will be open and officials said the regular staff absence policy will apply.

But some New York City educators are looking for ways to participate in the movement.

The MORE caucus within the city’s teachers union is encouraging educators to wear red and attend an “educator meetup” in Washington Square Park at 4 p.m. KIPP charter schools are also getting into the spirit. Nationally, KIPP Foundation’s CEO Richard Barth plans to send a note to staff acknowledging the day and celebrating the contributions of women to the charter network. The dean at KIPP STAR elementary school in Harlem sent an email encouraging staff to wear red.

Merchlewitz is looking forward to discussing women’s history with her class on Wednesday. She said talking about these issues has energized her class in the past.

“The topic of women’s issue, it’s such a resonant thing,” Merchlewitz said. “Everyone has strong women in their lives.”

Let us know if something is going on at your school for “A Day Without a Woman” tomorrow at ny.tips@chalkbeat.org.

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