Southern Poverty Law Center Programs
The SPLC’s Intelligence Project is the nation’s premiere organization tracking hate and extremist groups. In 2013, there were almost 70 domestic terror organizations active in Washington state. The SPLC provides the latest and best intelligence to law enforcement agencies, the media, and the public on the potential threat of these organizations.
Since 1991, our Teaching Tolerance Project has kept diversity issues at the forefront of American education. Through our award-winning magazine, curriculum kits, website, and other programming, we have touched the hearts and minds of millions of students and teachers with lessons about respect, equality, and social justice. We recently partnered with Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, on a bold initiative that trains educators on teaching young people about the principles of the civil rights movement.
The SPLC’s legal work has national impact, but our cases impacting King County include: LGBT Rights Initiative, using our successful case against the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota - which created a more inclusive anti-bullying policy, we used lessons learned to created guidelines for other schools to help create more inclusive and welcoming environment; Immigrant Justice Project exposes the egregious human rights violations in this vulnerable community and takes legal action in individual cases with the potential for systemic change; and our Juvenile Justice Project is tackling the school-to-prison pipeline, which sweeps impoverished children of color out of classrooms and into an uncaring maze of courts and lawyers, the result of which is limited life opportunities and, in too many cases, adult incarceration.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
The SPLC has taken on unscrupulous labor contractors who bring guestworkers into the country at lower wages and then abuse them without impunity. We sued Eller and Sons Trees Inc. on behalf of seasonal migrant workers lured from Mexico and Guatemala to plant pine seedlings as part of the federal H-2B guestworker program. With this case, the court sent a strong and clear message that businesses employing guestworkers will be held accountable if they abuse or mistreat them. Eller and Sons had been repeatedly investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor and fined for violating employment regulations but continued to receive the department’s approval to hire H-2B workers – highlighting a critical flaw in the guestworker program.
Teaching Tolerance is moving forward with Perspectives for a Diverse America, a new initiative that connects educators to diverse classroom material. Importantly, it aligns with newly adopted academic standards (called Common Core Standards) that require a greater amount of nonfiction reading. At its heart, Perspectives will be a large collection of short but “complex” texts that reflect America’s cultural diversity and explore the necessity of equal justice in our nation. Its web-based delivery system will allow educators to find appropriate texts (by age, topic, and perspective), and then choose from a set of learning activities that build critical literacy. Professional development will also be included as an integral component of Perspectives, to help educators improve their teaching methods with culturally diverse students. Development of Perspectives is spread out over two years, with launch scheduled for the school year beginning in September 2013.