Speak Truth to Power 


Speak Truth to Power (STTP), a project of the Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Center for Justice and Human Rights, is a multi-faceted global initiative that uses the experiences of courageous defenders from around the world to educate students and others about human rights, and urge them to take action.

Beginning November 17, 2011, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the RFK Center, and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) launched 32 new lessons as part of the Speak Truth to Power human rights curriculum, based on the lives and work of 14 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. Issues range from slavery and environmental activism to religious self-determination and political participation.

The curriculum was developed in part with the assistance of CPS teachers representing 14 different schools from across the city who met during the summer of 2011 for a three-day workshop. The stories of the 14 heroic individuals – including familiar names like Lech Walesa, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Jody Williams – not only serve as the jumping off point for a larger examination of human rights, but also, through concrete activities, give the students a way to identify as human rights defenders themselves. The online curriculum is aligned with the Illinois State Standards and the national Common Core State Standards that have been adopted in 45 states across the U.S. The curriculum is flexible and can be modified to meet the needs of each individual classroom.

Every year, Nobel Peace Prize winners get together to attend the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, and, on April 23, 2012, that gathering will take place in Chicago. During their time in Chicago, the Nobel Laureates will travel out to CPS schools to meet with the students who have been learning about their lives and their lessons through STTP. However, these students will not be the only lucky ones. Thanks to a partnership with Safari Live, the interaction between the Nobel Laureates and the students will be broadcast to ALL CPS schools and across the nation and will feature an interactive question and answer session.


Each Speak Truth to Power curricular unit includes:

  • A connection to the CPS Social Science 2.0 framework (contact Martin Moe or Monica Swope for information)
  • Alignment to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Illinois Learning Standards (ILS)
  • Information about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • A focus on a human rights issue that impacts our global community as told by a defender of human rights that has worked specifically on the issue
  • A civic-action project that students will participate in

The lessons are available by clicking Adobe PDF icon. here.

The lessons are available for anyone to access and use, but it is your participation in a 3-part professional development series is highly recommended.

Professional Development Series

In order to introduce teachers to the Speak Truth to Power (STTP) curriculum and provide training on the implementation of the curriculum in the classroom, the CPS Social Sciences team is in the process of offering a three-part professional development opportunity for interested teachers:

  1. Introductory webinar:
    • Outcomes:
      • Provide an introduction to the Speak Truth to Power curriculum
      • Provide an introduction to the teaching of human rights and incorporating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) into the classroom setting
      • Support the selection of a STTP curricular module to teach
    • Access the Introductory Webinar here.
  2. In-Person Session 1:
    • 2-hour in-person sessions throughout January and February
    • Dates/Times
      • Chicago Teacher's Union/Quest Center: Feb. 8, 2012 (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 400, Chicago, IL 60654)
      • Hancock HS: Feb. 9, 2012
      • Hancock HS: Feb. 22, 2012
      • Whitney Young HS: Feb. 23, 2012
    • Outcomes:
      • Provide examples of how the STTP curriculum has been enacted in CPS classrooms
      • Provide and model methods of empowering students to become defenders of human rights through the use of STTP
      • Provide guided instructional planning time for the inclusion of STTP into current curriculum
      • Develop individual (or vschool-based) action plans for the teaching of STTP
    • Teachers will receive CPDUs for attending
    • To register, visit CPSU and search "speak truth to power."
  3. In-Person Session 2
    • 2-hour in-person sessions throughout late February and March
      (Dates and locations to be determined)
    • Outcomes:
      • Teacher collaboration and discussion on the implementation of the STTP curriculum
      • Provide support and planning time on the development and implementation of the “How to Become a Defender” civic action project
      • Provide detailed information about the Nobel Laureate World Summit and the opportunity to participate in the live-streaming of Nobel Laureate visits to CPS schools (4/23/12)

Contact Information

For more information about the Speak Truth to Power project and curriculum, contact Martin Moe, Social Science Lead, at msmoe@cps.k12.il.us or 773-553-6389, or Monica Swope, Social Science Specialist, at maswope@cps.k12.il.us or 773-553-6006.

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