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


Curriculum Resources

Great Peacemakers:
True Stories from Around the World

By Ken Beller and Heather Chase
(LTS Press, 2008)
195 pp. $21.95
This collection of life stories of 20 "peacemakers" from around the world is a welcome addition to any middle or high school classroom. The short biographical essays cover the childhood and the social/ecological justice activities of the individuals. Each also has a photo and a page of quotations from every peacemaker. Those profiled include Wangari Maathai from Kenya, Bruno Hussar the creator of the "Oasis of Peace" village in Israel, and Rachel Carson.

*500 Years of Chicana Women's History/500 Años de la Mujer Chicana
Edited by Elizabeth "Betita" Martínez
(Rutgers University Press, 2007)
288 pp., 899 illustrations, $23.95
A bilingual picture book for grown-ups (and high school students) that you just can't put down. So many inspiring stories and photos of Mexican American/Chicana women in politics, labor, art, health, and more. Organized thematically and geographically.

On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail
By Charles E. Cobb, Jr.
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008)
388 pp. $18.95
Author Charlie Cobb played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi and has spent many years since as a journalist. His knowledge of the Movement and his skills as a writer combine to make this a valuable book for courses on U.S. history and local history.

Policy Matters

*The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
By Naomi Klein
(Metropolitan Books, 2007)
558 pp. $28
There are a handful of books — Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States comes to mind — that should be read by every teacher and teacher educator. Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine is one of these. From the 1973 Chilean coup — the other September 11 — through today, Klein demonstrates how shock has been used by global elites to push through a radical agenda of privatization and "free trade." This disaster capitalism, as she calls it, is the global context that frames our conditions of teaching and learning, our students' lives, and everything from the wars we wage to the food we eat. Will our future be one of social and ecological responsibility or increasing inequality and selfishness? For those of us who would prefer the former, Klein's book will help us chart the course.

Picture Books

Mexican Folk Art ABCs in English and Spanish
By Cynthia Weill and K.B. Basseches
(Cinco Puntos Press, 2007)
32 pp. $14.95
This beautiful little bilingual book uses vibrantly painted wood sculptures of animals from Oaxaca, Mexico, to bring the alphabet alive.

George Washington Carver
By Tonya Bolden
(Harry N Abrams, 2008)
40 pp. $18.95
Published in association with the Field Museum of Chicago to accompany a traveling exhibition, this beautifully designed book describes the life of the African American scientist and educator. Perhaps best known for his work with peanuts, this biography shows the depth of Carver's interest in conservation and respect for the land and nature.

*Keep Your Ear on the Ball
By Genevieve Petrillo
(Tilbury House, 2007)
32 pp. $16.95
Based on a true story about how a student who is blind, and his classmates who are not, learn how to work and play together. The story challenges stereotypes about being blind and provides a great example of how students use problem-solving strategies to overcome obstacles to full participation.

No English
By Jacqueline Jules
(Ann Arbor Media Group, 2007)
32 pp. $17.95
Two 2nd graders, one Spanish-speaker who is new to the school and a non-Spanish-speaking classmate, face challenges and misunderstandings as they try to communicate. When they finally figure out they can share stories by drawing, they end up in the principal's office. The author is a school librarian and knows how to interest children in a story. The book shares good examples of how schools should support new students and ends with the 2nd graders jumping rope and counting in Spanish.

*That's Not Fair!/No Es Justo!: Emma Tenayuca's Struggle for Justice/La lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la justicia
By Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Teneyuca
(Wings Press, 2008)
40 pp. $17.95
This bilingual book tells the true story of the labor organizer Emma Tenayuca, beginning with her childhood in Texas in the 1920s. At the age of 21, she led 12,000 workers in the historic pecan workers strike. The authors are poet Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Teneyuca, a social justice lawyer and the niece of Emma Tenayuca.

*Those Shoes
By Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones
(Candlewick, 2007)
40 pp. $15.99
A story every child can relate to about a boy named Jeremy who wants a pair of the popular black high-tops. But Jeremy's grandmother explains that they can't afford them. He tries various options, including wearing a thrift-store pair that are so small they hurt his feet. Although designed to focus on the value of family and friends over material possessions, the book also allows a parent or teacher to discuss the influence of marketing and peer pressure. The book is beautifully illustrated and written to engage young readers.

*We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin
By Larry Dane Brimmer
(Calkins Creek, 2007)
48 pp. $17.95 hardback
In an easy-to-read format, this picture book for ages 8 and above tells the story of Bayard Rustin, who played a critical role in the Civil Rights Movement. Through his life story students learn about: the activists and intellectuals of the early 20th century who often visited his home, A. Phillip Randolph and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the lunch counter and bus protests that began long before 1954, the philosophy of nonviolence, and how the 1963 March on Washington was organized.


*Made in L.A.
Directed by Almudena Carracedo
(California Newsreel, 2007)
70 min. $50
This is the moving story of immigrant women's participation in a three-year strike and boycott against the apparel retailer Forever 21. It's an intimate film that focuses on three women to reveal how their involvement in strike activities transforms their lives. As is the case in so many industries, Forever 21 pressured suppliers to provide products at low prices but then professed ignorance when it was revealed that their suppliers kept workers in sweatshop conditions. This is a rich film, full of insights about immigration, conditions in the apparel industry, labor organizing, women's lives — and the intersection of the personal and the political.


Pretends to Be Free Imagining Runaway Slaves
In their Winter 2006 Rethinking Schools article, "Reaching Between the Lines," Thom Thacker and Michael Lord describe an art project to get students to imagine the lives of enslaved African Americans who had run away. Historic Hudson Valley has just posted the 2007 winning artwork at its website. These student pieces, as well as those from 2006, could be used as classroom prompts to inspire other student work. Thacker and Lord's original article is at

Resources compiled by Bill Bigelow, Deborah Menkart, and Bob Peterson. An asterisk indicates that the book is available from Teaching for Change (