Table of Contents

    Cover Theme
  • "The Laptops Are Coming! The Laptops Are Coming!"

    By Sarah Heller McFarlane Things to think about before the laptops arrive in your classroom.
  • Free A Time to End the Silences

    By the Editors of Rethinking Schools

    "When texts don't talk about racism, when standards don't mention racism, when teachers don't teach about racism, they automatically eliminate any discussion of anti-racism."
  • Prophet Motives

    An excerpt from Keeping the Promise?: The Debate Over Charter Schools

    By Leigh Dingerson "Any discussion of charter schools must ask not only whether charters promote a worthwhile vision of public education, but also whether they are faithful to their own promises."
  • Fault Lines in Merit Pay

    By Sam Coleman "Far from addressing the systemic, institutionalized problems in New York City's public schools, the city's test-based pay program attempts to provide a 'silver bullet' solution by relying on crass material incentives."
  • City Teaching; Beyond the Stereotypes

    By Gregory Michie "For city teachers, it's also about functioning within—and challenging—a system that in many ways works to undercut and even thwart your best efforts."
  • Rethinking MySpace

    By Antero Garcia "As an educator constantly searching for ways to use popular culture in my classroom, I decided to make MySpace part of my teaching repertoire."
  • Childhood Is Dying

    By Dahr Jamail, Ahmed Ali "Iraq's children have been more gravely affected by the U.S. occupation than any other segment of the population."
  • Empire or Humanity

    By Howard Zinn "The American Empire has always been a bipartisan project—Democrats and Republicans have taken turns extending it, extolling it, justifying it."
  • Introduction

  • Putting a Human Face on the Immigration Debate

    By Steven Picht-Trujillo, Paola Ledezma "For those of us working with immigrant populations, we have in our students living examples that we can use to bring the immigration issue to the forefront and teach all of our students."
  • An Open Letter to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund from the Association of Raza Educators

    The Association of Raza Educators implores you: open your scholarships to all students of Hispanic descent regardless of citizenship.
  • Everything Flowers

    By Lisa Espinosa "I noted the biased curriculum... the absence of lessons on the Chicano movement or other aspects of my history and culture, the various attempts to make me less Mexican and more white."
  • Pump Up the Blowouts

    By Gilda L. Ochoa "This year is the 40th anniversary of the Chicana/o School Blowouts, and I wonder how schools, communities, and the media will mark this important movement."
  • Free Review: Our Dignity Can Defeat Anyone

    By Julie Treick O'Neill By Julie Treick O'Neill A review of the film Maquilapolis [City of Factories]
  • Departments Free
  • Resources

  • Letters to the Editors

  • Short Stuff
  • Kids in the Middle


Curriculum Resources

*A People's History of American Empire:
A Graphic Adaptation

By Howard Zinn, Mike Konopacki, and Paul Buhle
(Metropolitan Books, 2008)
273 pp. $17

With help from illustrator Mike Konopacki and historian Paul Buhle, Howard Zinn's critical scholarship on the roots and consequences of U.S. empire has been made even more accessible. A People's History of American Empire is told through cartoons and photos with autobiographical stories and historical vignettes (see page 33). This is a wonderful introduction to U.S. history for middle and high school students-but also for teachers at all grade levels. The book begins with the "internal empire" of the final wars of displacement against Indian people, culminating with the Wounded Knee massacre-"the climax to 400 years of violence that began with Christopher Columbus." The book continues through the Spanish-American War, World War I, Vietnam, and the "resurgence of empire" in the U.S.-sponsored wars in Central America. But it concludes, as all of Howard Zinn's work does, with a discussion of the possibility and necessity of hope. And for more Zinn resources and teaching materials, see, home of the Zinn Education Project, a collaboration between Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change.

*Crash Course:
Reflections on the Film Crash for Critical Dialogues About Race, Power
and Privilege

Edited by Michael Benitez Jr. and Felicia Gustin
(The Institute for Democratic Education and Culture-Speak Out, 2007)
83 pp. $12

Because the film Crash is being used in high school and college courses, the organization Speak Out, led a panel discussion at the 2006 National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education to address whether Crash is a realistic assessment of race in America or reflects Hollywood stereotypes, and whether the film can be used in the classroom to deepen students' understanding of race and racism. That panel launched this volume of 11 provocative essays that will help teachers sort out whether and how to use Crash with high school or college students.

It's My Life! A Guide to Alternatives After High School
Edited by Janine Schwab
(American Friends Service Committee, 2008)
89 pp. $9.95

Not all students want to or are able to go to college after high school. For these young people, recruiters are eager to lure them into the military, where, because of current stop-loss policies, they will remain until the government feels like letting them out. This guide provides valuable advice on where young people can find training opportunities, internships, and apprenticeships-including, but not limited to, peace and social justice jobs. It's reader-friendly, practical, and hopeful. An indispensable resource for counselors, school-to-work programs, and any teacher working with high school seniors.

*SAT Bronx: Do You Know What Bronx Kids Know?
By Shannon O'Grady, Kristin Ferrales, and Students from Bronx Leadership Academy, (Next Generation Press, 2008)
76 pp. $9.95

This little booklet full of tests developed by a group of high school students requires a No. 2 pencil and a sense of humor. Presented in standardized test multiple-choice format, the test questions are based on the issues and challenges the students face in their lives, such as Who's American?, Why Do We Fight?, The Recruitment Decision, What to Take to College, and more. Students will enjoy reading and taking a test that "makes it real" while adult readers will likely need to ask a teenager for help figuring out the answers. The book can be used to introduce the skills of test taking with familiar content. It can also inspire students to develop their own tests based on what teachers and parents should know about their own lives and community. Hopefully it will also lead students to critically examine the capacity of a one-shot, multiple-choice test to capture and measure all that we know.

Policy Matters

*City Kids, City Schools: More Reports from the Front Row
Edited by William Ayers, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Gregory Michie, and Pedro Noguera
(The New Press, 2008)
346 pp. $24.95

In this issue of Rethinking Schools, we feature two selections from the extraordinary new collection, City Kids, City Schools: Gregory Michie's "City Teaching: Not All Toil and Struggle," and Lisa Espinosa's "Everything Flowers." The book includes essays from students, teachers, teacher educators, and activists-as well as contributions from Rethinking Schools editors Wayne Au, Linda Christensen, and Stan Karp. Critical, hopeful, eloquent: this is an utterly authentic look at schools as they are, but also as they could be.

Taking Back Childhood:
Helping Your Kids Thrive in a Fast-Paced, Media-Saturated, Violence-Filled World

By Nancy Carlsson-Paige
(Hudson Street Press, 2008)
288 pp. $23.95

Carlsson-Paige shows how parents can nurture their children's basic needs for creative play, security, and positive relationships. The book includes conversations with dozens of parents the author interviewed. The frustrations and joys of parenting they share will not only ring true for readers, but also offer concrete suggestions for how to parent in a way that truly connects with children and minimizes the effects of screen time, media violence, and advertising.

The Global Assault on Teaching, Teachers, and their Unions:
Stories of Resistance

Edited by Mary Compton and Lois Weiner
(Palgrave MacMillan, 2008)
281 pp. $27.95

This comprehensive collection of essays analyzes the attacks on teaching and public education in the world. Drawing on diverse experiences of teacher unions from over a dozen countries, teacher union leaders and scholars explain the impact of new global policies that promote privatization, probe the forces behind such policies, and describe different strategies of resistance that teachers are using to fight back.

Transformative Assessment
By W. James Popham
(ASCD, 2008)
150 pp. $22.95

Popham, one of the leading U.S. experts on assessment and evaluation, describes the power of formative assessments in this short and accessible volume. He carefully defines formative assessment as a "planned process in which teachers or students use assessment-based evidence to adjust what they're currently doing." He argues that such clarity is important "so that [educators] will be forearmed against commercial test-development companies that are eager to hitch a profit-making ride on the enthusiasm for formative assessment, and thus, will label as 'formative assessment' practices that are not actually consonant with the body of research that validates formative assessment." He argues that, "describing interim or benchmark tests as 'formative' in the sense that they are in accord with research evidence. is a fundamental misrepresentation." Most of the book details how to shift away from ineffective state-, district-, and classroom-developed tests to a formative process that will significantly improve teaching and learning. A useful handbook for educators who want to simultaneously fight top-down testing and improve genuine assessment practices.


*The Story of Stuff
By Annie Leonard
(Free Range Studios, 2008)
20 min. $10 or free download at

The Story of Stuff is a funny and profound critique of global cycles of commodity production and disposal. The format is simply a mile-a-minute talk by environmentalist Annie Leonard, illustrated by cartoons that bring to life Leonard's critique. Leonard opens with a confession that, "I got a little obsessed with all my stuff." With biting wit, she proceeds to demolish the traditional textbook account that "our stuff simply moves along these stages: extraction to production to distribution to consumption to disposal." It's a must-watch film for global studies, economics, government, physical science, ecology, or any course dealing with the environmental crisis. There are lots of extras at the website, including an annotated script of The Story of Stuff and ideas on what we can do to address the problems that Leonard lays out.

Resources compiled by Bill Bigelow, Deborah Menkart, Bob Peterson, and Kelley Dawson Salas. An asterisk indicates that the resource is available from Teaching for Change.