It’s always best to send us an email query prior to writing an article, describing the piece you have in mind and asking whether it might be appropriate for the magazine. If you are considering a piece that deals with classroom teaching, curriculum, or other in-school matters, write our curriculum editor, Bill Bigelow: email@example.com. If you are proposing an article about education organizing/activism or policy matters, write our policy and production editor, Jody Sokolower: firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, if you have an article in hand, feel free to send it along, but first read on to make sure that it’s a good fit.
All articles should be submitted electronically. We are unable to read submissions of more than 4,000 words, and are generally interested in articles that are substantially shorter. Note that we have a very small staff and a large number of submissions, so please have patience. And feel free to check in with one of us if you have not received a response.
We encourage writers to read the introduction to Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice prior to submitting. This is the best summary of Rethinking Schools’ stance on social justice teaching and is a lens through which editors evaluate submissions to the magazine. Rethinking Schools is not an academic journal. We want the writing in the magazine to be lively, conversational, and to avoid the kind of needless jargon that infects so much education writing.
We are looking for pieces that are alert to broad themes of social and ecological justice. We certainly are interested in how-to articles, but only those that are grounded in how this teaching connects to a larger vision of social and ecological justice. We are also looking for articles that are “replicable”—so that another teacher could read the article and then say, “Yeah, I think that I could do something like that, too.”
We don’t publish lesson plans in the magazine, but do look for pieces that are story-rich. Student voice is another element of a successful article. Are there quotes from students, examples from student work? Does this feel authentic? Although we are looking for exemplary teaching practices, we are not looking for heroism. Rethinking Schools editors are all teachers or former teachers. We know that this is tough work and that even the best teaching often falls short. We want articles that are honest, that acknowledge difficulties and shortcomings, and that model for readers a self-critical approach to the classroom.
We look for articles with a strong social justice perspective that will be helpful and inspiring for teachers and other education activists. We are interested in features, not reports or news articles. So please approach it as a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end, filled with anecdotes and the voices of teachers, parents, and/or students. If the article is about organizing, show us what happened rather than telling us about it. As with curriculum articles, we want others to be able to apply or adapt successful organizing to their own situation. Papers written for academic assignments are almost never appropriate for Rethinking Schools without significant revision.
In general, the best guide to the kind of articles we run in the magazine is to look at lots of back issues. In fact, you might consider finding “mentor texts”—articles that are structured in ways that will be a helpful guide as you draft your submission. Our staff editors read all submissions. If an article seems like it would be a good fit for the magazine, an editor will either work with the writer toward submission to the full national editorial board or will simply submit a piece to the board. The editorial board makes all decisions about which articles are accepted for publication. Again, if you have any questions about our editorial process or whether an idea you have might make a good Rethinking Schools piece, please get in touch with one of us.