Table of Contents

    Issue Theme
  • Free The Big One

    Teaching about climate change

    By Bill Bigelow

    The environmental crisis requires a profound social and curricular rethinking.

  • Cover Story
  • Free A Pedagogy for Ecology

    By Ann Pelo

    Helping students build an ecological identity and a conscious connection to place opens them to a broader bond with the earth.

  • The Wonder of Nature

    By Bob Peterson

    A review of The Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, The Sense of Wonder, and A Sand County Almanac.

  • Rethinking Lunchtime

    Making lunch an integral part of education

    By Michael Stone

    Lunch is too important to be thought of as the ritual pit stop between classroom and playground.

  • Educating Heather

    First-person narratives bring climate change closer to home

    By Lauren G. McClanahan

    First-person narratives about climate change bridge the gap for students between theory and reality.

  • Teachable Moments Not Just for Kids

    By Susan Naimark

    When parents avoid connecting, they model for children how not to talk about race and racism.

  • Beat It! Defeat It! Racist Cookies

    Promoting activism in teacher education

    By Bree Picower

    How racist cookies spurred a teacher and her education students to take action.

  • "Bait and Switch"

    New report pushes voucher fans to fast-talk around problems

    By Barbara Miner

    Voucher advocates are fast-talking their way around a new report that cast doubts on the value of the program.

  • America's Army Invades Our Classrooms

    The military’s stealth recruitment of children

    The Army's new high-tech strategy for winning recruits.

  • Teaching for Joy and Justice

    By Linda Christensen

    An excerpt from Christensen's new book, Teaching for Joy and Justice: Re-imagining the Language Arts Classroom.

  • Boycott!

    Los Angeles Teachers Say NO to More Testing

    By Sarah Knopp

    Los Angeles teachers take on LAUSD's mandated tests.

  • Free Connected to the Community

    An effective model for preparing and retaining teachers

    By Marianne Smith, Jan Osborn

    A look inside I-Teach, an effective model for preparing and retaining teachers.

  • Izzit Capitalist Propaganda?

    By Julie Knutson

    DVDs from follow a familiar free-market script.

  • "It Was So Much Fun! I Died of Massive Blood Loss!"

    The problem with Civil War reenactments for children

    By Karen Park Koenig

    A mock battle highlights the line between role-playing and re-enactment.

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Los Angeles Teachers Say NO to More Testing

In the spirit of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who argued that "one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws," the 47,000-strong United Teachers Los Angeles has defied both the law and Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education orders on at least three occasions since the state budget crisis began to unfold and the district began stonewalling employees in negotiations. More than 80 percent of teachers in the nation's second-largest school district struck illegally on June 6, 2008, for the first hour of school (students arrived late or were supervised on school yards by administrators.) Fifty parents and teachers occupied the LAUSD board room in March 2009, trying to disrupt the board's vote to send pink slips to over 9,000 employees by shutting down their meeting. (As it turned out, board members snuck into a different room away from the public and took the vote anyway.) And this January, UTLA members began boycotting district-mandated "periodic assessments"?called benchmark assessments in many districts?in tandem with a boycott of after-school faculty meetings.

Immense solidarity, not to mention solid footing on moral high-ground, has saved teachers from much punishment. We sacrificed a paltry hour of pay for the one-hour strike, the board refused to arrest those of us illegally occupying their boardroom in March, and to the union's knowledge, the district has not followed through on threats to write up any teachers for failing to turn in assessment data.

When Superintendent Cortines sent out a message to teachers warning that they would be punished for not turning in test data, UTLA hit back with a letter promising not to sign any contract that did not include a no-reprisal clause for participation in union-sanctioned actions. (See the letter at When Cortines wrote a letter to parents claiming that we were robbing children by not giving the tests, teachers refused to distribute it. Instead, the union printed letters for us to send home to parents explaining that we are boycotting tests because they "are not designed by teachers at our school who work with your child every day, the content is usually not aligned with [my] classroom lessons. Many of the tests have to be sent off-site to be scored, and the results often come back too late to help guide [my] lesson plans. These tests are produced by outside consultants and cost the school district millions of dollars without benefit to students." (See the letter to parents at

The boycotted tests are not required by federal No Child Left Behind mandates or state education codes. They are district mandates that press down on classrooms already saturated with other standardized tests. They are called "periodic," because in secondary schools they are given quarterly in math, English, science, and social studies classes. They therefore act to enforce standardized pacing. They are written and scored by Princeton Review. (At the elementary level, teachers have boycotted McGraw Hill Open Court pacing plan tests.)

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