Table of Contents

    Cover Story
  • Free Of Mice and Marginalization

    Authored By Michelle Kenney

    Under pressure from parents, a high school English teacher assigns a classic: Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Her students' reactions lead her to a deeper understanding of what's wrong with "the canon."

  • Features
  • Disabled Education

    Authored By Ruth Colker

    A legal advocate for people with disabilities realizes, through her own son's experiences, the inequities in access, diagnosis, and services for children with special needs.

  • Free Standing Up for Tocarra

    Authored By Tina Owen

    When a homophobic minister preaches about the "sin" of a transgender student at her funeral, a teacher leads her students to focus instead on the beautiful spirit of the young woman they loved.

  • Free The Mystery of the 3 Scary Numbers

    Authored By Bill Bigelow

    A classroom mixer prepares students to study "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math."

  • Teaching Palestine

    An interview with Palestinian educator Ziad Abbas

    Authored By Jody Sokolower

    Drawing on his experience growing up in a refugee camp in the West Bank and his work with youth, Abbas explores connections that bring Palestine to life for students in the United States.

  • Free Charter Schools and the Future of Public Education

    Authored By Stan Karp

    Charter schools began as educator-initiated, local efforts to provide alternative approaches to education. What role are they playing now? And what is the impact on public education?

  • Schools That Change Communities

    Reviewed By David Sobel

    Bob Gliner's film focuses on five schools in very different communities. Together, they provide a view of what is possible when education is grounded in civic engagement.

  • Rethinking Shit

    Excrement and equity

    Authored By Noah Zeichner

    A high school social studies teacher uses videos and frank discussion to lead students in a study of the sanitation crisis in poverty-stricken areas of the world, and the connection to global patterns of wealth and power.

  • Departments Free
  • Clear-Cutting Our Schools

    Authored By The Editors of Rethinking Schools
  • Action Education
  • Justice for Trayvon Martin

    Authored By Jody Sokolower
  • Good Stuff
  • The Storyteller's Candle/La velita de los cuentos

    Reviewed By Grace Cornell Gonzales
  • Resources
  • Our picks for books, videos, websites, and other social justice education resources.

Justice for Trayvon Martin

Justice for Trayvon Martin

We return to school this fall under the cloud of the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Many students in our classes are wondering “Am I next?” and all of them—all of us—need to grapple with what this means about our country, and what we can do about it.

African American scholar/activist Cornel West calls Zimmerman's acquittal “a Dred Scott moment—a clear statement that there is no respect for black life.” It marks a point in time when the systemic and historical nature of U.S. racism is starkly revealed.

It's natural to focus on Zimmerman's psychology, and on the racism of the Seminole County police and jury. Even more guilty are the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which have succeeded in pushing and buying “stand your ground” laws, the legal basis for Zimmerman's defense, in 22 states and counting.

But the antecedents to stand your ground laws have a long history in armed vigilantes enforcing white supremacy in the United States—from Daniel Boone to the KKK to the Zoot Suit Riots. According to journalist Thom Hartmann, “the real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says state instead of country, was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the Southern states.”

But the heartening aspect of this Dred Scott moment is the extent to which it has evoked a national level of rage and determination. It has so stripped clear the illusion of a post-racial, color-blind society, thousands of people have been moved to action. Rallies were held in more than 100 cities. A student-led group of activists, the Dream Defenders, occupied the offices of Florida Gov. Rick Scott for a month, demanding a special legislative session to overturn the state's stand your ground law.

Outrage has also generated a wealth of cultural resistance—posters, poetry, music. As artist Ricardo Levins Morales told Truthout reporter Candice Bernd, “[The artist's] role in moments like this is not just to capture the moment and express people's feelings, but help to transform it from a moment that's about expending energy to one that's about accumulating power.”