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

Letters to the Editors

Thank you, Howard

Howard Zinn's chapter on the Vietnam War (Vol. 22, No.1) was quite an eye opener for me. I knew some of the details leading up to the war but not the whole perspective as Zinn describes it. What a shameful history we have.

I graduated from a private conservative high school in 1969. We did not discuss the Vietnam War in class and we certainly did not discuss it at home. For this reason, I went through this period somewhat uninformed. I regret not knowing more about the reasons for the war at that time for I missed an opportunity to stand up for peace and justice.

This article and the others concerning war, recruitment by the military, and the perspective used in our history books are so timely. The protests over the Vietnam War were carried on the backs of enlightened students. If we are ever going to stop the United States' aggressive interventions into other countries, it again will have to begin with our students. Thank you for some of the great ideas and resources to help teachers with this. This madness must cease.

— M. T. Cowley
LaGrange, Ky.

Dispelling Asian Myths

I wanted to thank you for publishing "You're Asian, How Could You Fail Math?" (Vo1. 22, No. 2). It is unsettling to read how little has changed despite the larger population of Asian students in the classroom. I taught in a bilingual Chinese-English classroom for two years in the New York City system. The article's inclusion of economics and income as a factor in discrimination resonated for me. Often I saw my students cope with being intimidated and mugged by black, Hispanic, and white students because they believed that they "had all the money." However, in the same instance these non-Chinese students would make fun of the newly immigrated Chinese students because they did not wear the popular designer brands!

What made the situation more difficult was that my students were predominantly Fukienese and I am Cantonese. Just like the non-Chinese students assumed they had money, my students assumed that I had money. It was this draining cycle of false assumptions and disrespect. Teaching was a disappointing but eye-opening experience for me.

I am still involved in education issues that impact Asian American students. I stepped away from activism and promotion to hone my skills as a curriculum developer and program director. As frustrating as articles like this one are to read, I am glad there are teachers/writers voicing these ongoing discrepancies in schools.

— Vincent Young

AFT Called Out

I recently received a letter from Edward J. McElroy, president of the American Federation of Teachers, detailing the AFT Executive Council's endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. The council's praise of Clinton's achievements, however, failed to utter a single word of concern about our illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq — a human catastrophe that has left an estimated one million people dead and driven another four million from their homes.

Since the Executive Council went through an "exhaustive process" before coming to its endorsement of Clinton, I asked McElroy whether the following items were considered:

(1) Clinton voted to give President Bush the authority to invade Iraq — in violation of the Constitution that gives war-making power to Congress alone.

(2) Despite Clinton's claim that she's been "a consistent critic [of the war] from the beginning" (New York Times, 8/10/06), she has voted for every appropriation bill to continue the conflict — a total of $611 billion thus far on the way to an estimated final cost of $2.5 trillion.

Her tactical criticisms are a calculated and insincere response to the Iraqi resistance and increasing domestic opposition. Voting for the U.S. invasion and every funding bill to continue it makes one a supporter — not a critic! Clinton does not oppose this criminal outrage; she merely questions how the crime is being committed.

(3) Clinton was silent as first lady, and then as senator supported the U.S.-led U.N. sanctions in Iraq that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children. In stark contrast, Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck, former U.N. Humanitarian Coordinators in Iraq, called these sanctions "genocidal" and resigned in protest. According to recent media reports, the sanctions and war have led to the worst increase in child mortality of any country on record. A recent Oxfam report states that the war has brought "extreme poverty" to Iraq, with its children "traumatized, malnourished and homeless."

The AFT letter also asserted, "As a private citizen, as first lady...and as a U.S. Senator, ...Clinton has been committed to improving the lives of children and working men and women." Huge improvements could have been made if the funds used in the invasion and occupation of Iraq were used to address the staggering inequality and poverty our children face in schools and social life. Based on U.S. population figures and the current ($611 billion) and estimated total cost of the war ($2.5 trillion), the people of Milwaukee, for example, have paid out some $1.2 billion thus far of their final bill of $5 billion for the conflict.

Think of what life-affirming programs could be created and sustained for the children of the U.S. with the funds now being lost to violence and devastation — every dollar of which has been approved by Hillary Clinton, the presidential candidate endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers.

— John Marciano,
Professor Emeritus,
State University of New York, College at Cortland
United University Professions/AFT Local 2190
Santa Monica, Calif.