Table of Contents

    Cover Theme
  • "Rewriting the Script"

    Together, the following eight articles outline how the standards-tests-punishment machine has subverted public schools from their democratic promise. With action, we can write a future where education isn't a soulless profit machine for the few.
  • Think Less Benchmarks

    A flawed test does more harm than good

    By Amy Gutowski

    "Thanks to the folks at the Discovery Channel, that TV channel with the nifty little logo of the earth spinning, my 8-year-old students have four more opportunities to stop learning and fill in the bubbles."

  • Cover Story
  • Beyond NCLB

    By Monty Neill

    A new era requires new thinking

  • Teaching in Dystopia

    Testing’s stranglehold on education

    By Wayne Au

    "The problem is this: Testing is killing education. Not only is it narrowing the curriculum generally, it promotes bad pedagogy, while making some private companies very rich in the process."

  • Reading First, Libraries Last

    Scripted programs undermine teaching and children's love of books

    By Rachel Cloues

    "In these bleak NCLB days of regimented, scripted reading programs and financially drained school districts, I am deeply worried about the future of elementary school libraries."

  • The Scripted Prescription

    A cure for childhood

    By Peter Campbell, Peter Campbell

    Testing mania reaches the pre-K classroom.  "It saddened me to think that my daughter's first impression of school was based on taking a test and failing it."

  • Bogus Claims About Reading First

    By Stephen Krashen

    When it comes to Reading First, don’t believe the hype

  • Textbook Scripts, Student Lives

    A math teacher goes beyond the standardized curriculum

    By Jana Dean

    "Textbooks, published by corporations that have much to gain by maintaining business as usual, aren't likely to press students to envision a future any different from the past and present."

  • Bonfire of the Disney Princesses

    By Barbara Ehrenreich

    Contrary to their spin machine, Disney’s princesses are far from role models

  • Underfunded Schools Cut Past Tense from Language Programs

    By The Onion

    "A part of American school curricula for more than 200 years, the past tense was deemed by school administrators to be too expensive to keep in primary and secondary education."
  • TV Selfishness and Violence Explode During 'War On Terror

    2nd graders discover new trends in TV since 9/11

    By Margot Pepper

    "Six years into the 'War on Terror,' my 2nd-grade Spanish immersion students found that aggression, selfishness, and insults have exploded on national television."

  • Queer Matters

    Educating educators about Homophobia

    By William DeJean, Anne Rene Elsebree

    "While we were excited to support the opening of the educational closet, unintentionally we became seen as the 'residential experts' for all things queer."

  • Feeding Two Birds With One Hand

    Why educators should demand a national health care plan

    By Bob Peterson

    "I can't imagine any teacher union leader or local school board member who wouldn't welcome a new federal program that would make the issue of healthcare benefits a moot point in bargaining."

  • Building Teacher Solidarity

    Larry Kuehn talks about building ties between teachers in Canada, Mexico, and the United States

    translation missing: en.articles.interviewers Bob Peterson

    “I would really like to see a new movement that gives the kind of hope
    for change that there was when I came into teaching in the late 1960s.”

  • Cover Stories
  • The Power of Words

    By Linda Christensen

    Top-down mandates masquerade as social justice reforms

  • Departments Free
  • Short Stuff
  • Resources
  • Review
  • Letters to the Editors
  • Good Stuff

    By Herb Kohl

Good Stuff

Kasparov, Garry
On My Great Predecessors: Part I
(Everyman Chess, Gloucester Publishers, UK, 2003;
distributed in the United States
by The Globe Pequot Press,
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437;
also available at

On My Great Predecessors: Part II
(Everyman Chess, Gloucester Publishers)

On My Great Predecessors: Part IV Fisher
(Everyman Chess, Gloucester Publishers)

When I was teaching in the public schools my students played chess every day and often, as a joke, I would tell kids who were messing around during a math or reading lesson, to go into a corner of the room and play chess. They almost always ran to the chess corner and before long were engaged in a serious, frequently quiet, sometimes sophisticated game. The game not only defused their anger and cooled down their conflicts, but it engaged their intellects. In fact, it tricked them into thinking and planning and concentrating in ways that brought them back to the more rigid academic studies they were resisting.

Recently I discovered a series of books by Garry Kasparov, a former world chess champion and sometimes jailed candidate for the presidency of Russia. Kasparov's books are to the chess world what Joyce or Proust is to the literary world. At this moment, I am working my way, game by game, through the first volume of the books, which he has titled "my great predecessors."

I believe that anyone who is teaching chess in the classroom, takes pleasure in the game, or has students who love to play the game can benefit from investing in at least two of the three books listed above. The first I would recommend is Volume I of On My Great Predecessors. The second is the Bobby Fisher volume, which is not merely an account of Fisher's games, but of his innovations, eccentricities, and genius.

The series presents, analyzes, and discusses all of the great chess players' games from the late 19th century to the present (often with very interesting biographical information). Kasparov has the credentials to unpack the stratagems of history's grandmasters; many chess experts believe him to be the greatest player ever. Yet, far from an aloof or condescending champion, Kasparov is disarmingly charming. However, while these books are delightful to read, they will be difficult for someone who doesn't know chess notation, or has little time to replay old games and think about the ideas and strategies they embody.