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

Short Stuff

Illustration: David Horsey ©2008 (03/25) Seattle Post-Intelligencer. All rights preserved. Reprinted with permission.

New Era, New Agenda

Federal education policy is "inconsistent and shortsighted," despite more than two decades of reform sparked by the release of A Nation at Risk, according to the Forum for Education and Democracy.

The group urges the government to fully fund federal commitments to low-income students, refocus research on educators' needs, and invest in a "Marshall plan" for teachers and school leaders. Democracy at Risk: The Need for a New Federal Policy in Education is intended to be a "road map for federal policy, to guide a new president, secretary of education, and Congress as they debate the Elementary and Secondary Education Act," the group says.

"While other countries have made strategic investments and transformed their schools to produce results, we have demanded results without investing in or transforming schools," says Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, a convener of the Forum who also co-authored the report.

The Forum says its proposals can be funded for $29 billion annually.

"The spending will more than pay for itself in increased economic activity and reduced spending on remediation programs," the Forum says.

The report is available to the public on

Seattle Teacher Just Says No

A local act of defiance by a 6th-grade teacher in Seattle gained national attention in the continuing argument over standardized tests.

In late April, Carl Chew, a middle school science teacher in the Seattle Public Schools, rebuffed national, state, and district rules when he declined to give his students the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). The district suspended Chew for two weeks without pay. Union officials believe this is the first case in which a teacher was suspended for refusing to give the WASL to students.

"I have let my administration know that I will no longer give the WASL to my students," Chew wrote in an email published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "I have done this because of the personal, moral, and ethical conviction that the WASL is harmful to students, teachers, schools, and families."

Among Chew's objections to WASL include his belief the test is "written in the language of white, middle- and upper-class students," the test is presented to students in a "secretive, cold, sterile, and inhumane fashion," and numerous questions are unclear and misleading.

While the district termed Chew's decision as gross insubordination and at least one news columnist called it "petulant," progressive activists and teacher groups have gone on the record in support of Chew.

"Carl Chew is saying 'No!' to high-stakes testing and a resounding 'Yes!' to student needs and to teacher professionalism," says Susan Ohanian, an education activist and author.

The Parent Empowerment Network presented Chew with a $200 check to help alleviate lost wages. Other groups also pledged contributions.

This isn't the first time issues surrounding the WASL have gained national attention. In 2005, a 4th-grade student was suspended for five days for failing to finish the test.

Texas Test Brings Out Worst

In a sign that America's test-score mania has its clear downside, a Texas middle school principal is accused of threatening to kill a group of science teachers if standardized tests scores of their students didn't improve.

The San Antonio Express-News reports that the principal allegedly made the threat to 8th-grade science teachers, saying that if Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills scores didn't meet expectations, he would "kill you all and kill myself."