Rethinking Schools

It's Time to Start Teaching Kids About Climate Change

The room was bustling with 28 3rd graders diligently working in pairs and practicing their scripts for the “People’s Climate Summit.” The 8- and 9-year-olds were discussing parts, devising props and costumes, and sounding out Bengali words and scientific terms.

Keep reading... Show less

Little Kids, Big Fears: Talking About North Korea (and Trump) With Eight Year Olds

Recently, an editor from the magazine Rethinking Schools was chaperoning a school field trip when he overheard a 2nd-grade student talking about how he wanted to “nuke the world.” 

Keep reading... Show less

Private Donations to Public Schools: The Latest Way to Undermine Funding Equity

At 24, as a brand-new teacher looking for my first job, I went through the rigmarole of applications, interviews, and job fairs. My first offer came from Lake Oswego, a city I knew only by its reputation for affluence and racial homogeneity (whiteness). I had never visited, even though it was a mere 20-minute drive from Portland, Oregon, where I had lived most of my life. I took the job, a one-year, temporary position. I would be a “foundation teacher”: My salary was paid not out of the regular budget, but by the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation, a separate, private fundraising apparatus.

Keep reading... Show less

The Disturbing Impact of Islamophobia in Our Schools

Like many, I watched in shock as the terror attacks unfolded in Paris last November. ISIS, the same group that had killed 43 innocent people in a double suicide bombing in Lebanon the day before, was now attacking Parisians. I checked Facebook to see if my Parisian friends were safe and noticed two things: First, several friends had messaged me to ask if my friends in Paris were safe (I lived there in 2008). Second, there was a feature enabled called the Facebook Safety Check that lets users mark themselves “safe” after an attack, earthquake, or other disaster.

Keep reading... Show less

Nation’s Largest Teachers Union Endorses Teaching Climate Justice

In May, the Portland, Oregon school board passed the country’s first comprehensive “climate justice” resolution. The school board voted unanimously to “abandon the use of any adopted text material that is found to express doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its root in human activities,” and called for all schools to teach a “climate justice” curriculum. The Portland resolution said that students in city schools “should develop confidence and passion when it comes to making a positive difference in society, and come to see themselves as activists and leaders for social and environmental justice—especially through seeing the diversity of people around the world who are fighting the root causes of climate change….”

Keep reading... Show less

Education Under Occupation: East Jerusalem

This interview explores the impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian children through a focus on the situation in East Jerusalem. When Israel declared itself a state in 1948, it forcibly ejected 750,000 Palestinians, who became refugees. Israel calls this its War of Independence; the Palestinians call it the Nakba—the catastrophe.

Keep reading... Show less

What Does It Mean to Be a Good Teacher? Sometimes, Bucking the System

It was a sunny afternoon in May 2015. Several dozen Albuquerque Public School (APS) teachers gathered around a metal garbage can outside district headquarters just a few minutes before the final school board meeting of the year. As local news cameras rolled, the teachers came forward one by one to burn their end-of-year evaluations. Like many states across the United States, New Mexico has adopted a value-added model of teacher evaluations, basing 50 percent of the overall score on student test scores. Whether rated as “minimally effective” or “exemplary,” the teachers individually and collectively made a powerful case for why their evaluations were arbitrary, unreliable, and deeply damaging to the profession of teaching.

Keep reading... Show less

Writing for a Complex World: A Conversation with Children's Author Jacqueline Woodson

It is March 2015. America is reeling from the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford, and Ezell Ford. As the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter is trending, images of unarmed Black women killed by white shooters begin streaming on Twitter feeds: Aiyana Jones, Renisha McBride, Shereese Francis, Rekia Boyd. Gay marriage is debated; violence against transgendered youth persists.

Keep reading... Show less

Even in Communities Directly Impacted by Climate Change, Schools Remain Silent on the Issue

I teach 6th grade in a small Yup’ik fishing village in southwestern Alaska. Alaska and other arctic regions are at the forefront of experiencing climate change. “The arctic is warming at twice the rate of anywhere else on Earth,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic Report Card. As the climate changes, the traditional ways of subsistence are threatened. Climate change is having a real and direct impact on this community now, yet the school and curriculum continue to be almost completely silent on the issue—and so much else that matters in my students’ lives.

Keep reading... Show less

Can We Rescue the Common Core Standards From the Testing Machine?

I hear this a lot these days: The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are, in and of themselves, fine. If we could just uncouple them from the testing and implementation regimens, all would be well. The standards themselves are an improvement, so let’s build on that opportunity, and not stand in the way just because their ugly testing step-cousin is trying to sneak through the door with them. We just need to get rid of the high-stakes tests.

Keep reading... Show less

How Teaching Can Be a Tool For Defiance

Recently, we posted an article at the Rethinking Schools Facebook page that listed reasons why parents should opt their children out of standardized testing, including “standardized tests narrow the curriculum.” The article went on:

Keep reading... Show less

How the Koch Brothers Are Buying Their Way Into Social Studies Classes

The Bill of Rights Institute. It’s a benign-sounding name. Every year, the Arlington, Virginia-based Bill of Rights Institute (BRI) offers curriculum workshops throughout the country, distributes teaching materials, holds essay contests for students, and displays its wares at the National Council for the Social Studies conference.

Keep reading... Show less

The Long Reach And Deep Pockets of Corporate Education Reform

For several years, I’ve been tracking the path of corporate school reform in two very different communities as it moves from city to suburb in my home state of New Jersey. One story comes from Newark, New Jersey’s largest city and the target of a nationally watched campaign to remake a high-poverty, high-needs urban district into a new education marketplace, transformed by charter chains, “venture philanthropy,” and various forms of “school choice” that treat parents as customers seeking services instead of citizens with rights. The other story is about my hometown, Montclair, a diverse community that has been long known as a model of high quality, integrated public education. Montclair, too, has been the target of a reform offensive, much less destabilizing than the one under way in Newark, but strikingly similar in many respects.

Keep reading... Show less

Why We Need to Transform Teacher Unions Now

In 2011, in the wake of the largest workers uprising in recent U.S. history, I was elected president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA). Unfortunately, that spring uprising, although massive and inspirational, was not strong enough to stop Gov. Walker from enacting the most draconian anti-public sector labor law in the nation.

Keep reading... Show less

What Restorative Justice Is -- and Isn't

Misbehave, get punished. That pretty much sums up the approach to “disciplining” students that educators through the decades have taken in schools and classrooms. The most extreme form of this law-and-order strategy is zero tolerance, described in Rethinking Schools by Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn back in 2000, as these policies gained popularity:

Keep reading... Show less

How the Military Invaded My High School

“Will you please write me a letter of recommendation for the Navy, Ms. McGauley? You’re my best class.” Thanh was enrolled in the recently established Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) at our high school and he, like many of my students, was enamored with the military’s alluring promises of a magic carpet ride away from poverty and uncertainty.

Keep reading... Show less

Why Is Silicon Valley So Bent on Destroying Public Education?

Nearly every metropolitan area these days has its own wealthy promoters of education reform. Little Rock has the Waltons, Seattle has Bill and Melinda Gates, Newark has Mark Zuckerberg, and Buffalo has John Oishei, who made his millions selling windshield wipers.

Keep reading... Show less

How Target is Infiltrating Public Schools to Build Customers for Life

I am the teacher-librarian in one of two San Francisco school libraries remodeled by the big-box chain Target, in partnership with the Heart of America Foundation (HOA). HOA, which coordinates corporate volunteer programs focused on literacy, provides a few different options, including the one Target picked: the READesign® Library Makeover Program. On its website, HOA promises to handle all the details for the sponsoring partner, making the experience simple but meaningful: “As soon as we know your desired market, we do the rest.”

Keep reading... Show less

What Happens When a City's Public Schools Vanish?

By next fall, New Orleans will have only five public schools—those operated by the Orleans Parish School Board. Everything else will be charters. The post-Katrina path to almost 100 percent charter education began with the post-storm shutdown of the city’s struggling public schools and the firing (recently declared illegal) of some 7,500 unionized teachers and other school employees, predominantly African American women. The assault was accelerated by a massive infusion of foundation and entrepreneurial investment in new charter schools, and years of state and federally supported deregulation and privatization.

Keep reading... Show less

The Gathering Resistance to Standardized Tests

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan touched off a torrent of criticism last November when he told a group of state school superintendents that opposition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) was coming from “white suburban moms who—all of a sudden—their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought.”

Keep reading... Show less

What Will It Take to Make Schools Safe for the LGBTQ Community?

Please support Rethinking Schools' Indiegogo campaign to fund the publication of Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality!

Keep reading... Show less

An Open Letter to Teach for America Recruits

Dear New TFA Recruits,

Keep reading... Show less

The Problem With the Common Core

This is a revised version of a talk on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) delivered in Portland, Oregon, Sept. 20, 2013. The CCSS have been adopted by 46 states and are currently being implemented in school districts throughout the United States.

Keep reading... Show less

Standing Up for Tocarra

In the fall of 2005, a group of teachers opened the Alliance School of Milwaukee. Many of us on the planning team had witnessed the discrimination and homophobic harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in traditional schools, and it was our intention to create a place where it would be “OK to be black, white, gay, straight, gothic, Buddhist, Christian, or just plain unique.” What we didn't know was how far outside those doors we would have to go in standing up for our students.

Keep reading... Show less

How Charter Schools Are Undermining the Future of Public Education

Somewhere along the way, nearly every teacher dreams of starting a school. I know I did.

Keep reading... Show less

The Trouble with the Common Core

It isn't easy to find common ground on the Common Core. Already hailed as the “next big thing” in education reform, the Common Core State Standards are being rushed into classrooms in nearly every district in the country. Although these “world-class” standards raise substantive questions about curriculum choices and instructional practices, such educational concerns are likely to prove less significant than the role the Common Core is playing in the larger landscape of our polarized education reform politics.

Keep reading... Show less

The Common Core Corporate Scam

It isn't easy to find common ground on the Common Core. Already hailed as the “next big thing” in education reform, the Common Core State Standards are being rushed into classrooms in nearly every district in the country. Although these “world-class” standards raise substantive questions about curriculum choices and instructional practices, such educational concerns are likely to prove less significant than the role the Common Core is playing in the larger landscape of our polarized education reform politics.

Keep reading... Show less

Rethinking the Day of Silence

Back in 2006, 7th and 8th graders at Green Acres, the K-8 independent school where I taught in suburban Maryland, participated in the Day of Silence.

Keep reading... Show less

Should 8-Year-Olds Be Reading Stories That Glorify Rape?

Last spring, my 2nd-grade daughter came home with an extra assignment—a worksheet she hadn’t completed in class for a story called “The Selkie Girl.” She brought the book home, too, and it was one I’d never seen before, a Junior Great Books anthology (Series 3, Book 1), published by the nonprofit Great Books Foundation.

Keep reading... Show less

Boot Camp for Education CEO's

This year, Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard helped Chicago teachers accomplish the impossible.

Keep reading... Show less

'Multiplication is for White People': An Interview with Education Professor Lisa Delpit

In the introduction to her new book, "Multiplication Is for White People": Raising Expectations for Other People's Children, Lisa Delpit describes her response when Diane Ravitch asked her why she hasn't spoken out against the devastation of public schools in her home state of Louisiana and the efforts to make New Orleans the national model. She explained to Ravitch that she has been concentrating her efforts where she feels she can make a difference: working with teachers and children in an African American school. She says her "sense of futility in the battle for rational education policy for African American children had gone on for so long . . . that I needed to give my 'anger muscles' a rest."

Keep reading... Show less
BRAND NEW STORIES
@2022 - AlterNet Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. - "Poynter" fonts provided by fontsempire.com.