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

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Queer Matters

Educating educators about Homophobia
Queer Matters

From our vantage point, the exploration of topics of equity and social justice is often approached from a distant, hypothetical "objective" point of view something to read about, to discuss, to observe, but rarely felt. Because of this, we designed the opening of the session so that the approximately 40 participants could feel the effects of having to hide, cover, or censor what they said. We instructed participants to think about the most important person in their lives and to write in detail about an event that captured why that person was so important to them. Once participants finished writing, they were instructed to get into pairs with one person assigned the role of storyteller and one person assigned the role of listener.

We told the storytellers that they had five minutes to tell their partner, without the use of their notes, about the person and the event they wrote about. The storyteller could make no mention of pronouns, proper names, or any other markers that would indicate the gender of the person in the story.

As storytellers began to tell their stories, we watched as a few began to avoid eye contact or lower their eyes as they struggled to find words to tell their story. Others sat with arms crossed, in a pose that suggested heavy thinking. A few others simply stopped speaking all together. Watching this happen reminded us of how we must have looked to our high school students when, early in our career, they would inquire about the simplest of topics such as, "Are you married?" or during a class session asked, "What did you do over the weekend?"

At the conclusion of the activity, we posted two questions on the overhead for partners to discuss. The first asked them to share about their individual experience with the activity. The second instructed them to talk about what the experience caused them to think about. When we opened for a large discussion many of the storytellers shared how frustrating the activity was for them. They reported the difficulty they experienced filtering their language, thinking through each word before it was spoken, understanding how the altered language changed the meaning and intention of their story, and ultimately managing their anxiety to share a brief story. As one colleague said, "I learned more about the difficulty people face just to be who they are." Another person shared, "I learned how important language is."

We reminded our colleagues that the activity might have felt frustrating, but as the British teacher Clare Sullivan has written, "Psychologically there is a world of difference between choosing not to tell your colleagues, and being worried they will find out." For that reason we hoped that our workshop would offer ideas, support, and resources for their own classrooms.

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