Table of Contents

  • Free Our Climate Crisis Is an Education Crisis

    Edited By the editors of Rethinking Schools Why is there so little teaching or discussion of climate change in classrooms?
  • Cover Story
  • Free Got Coal?

    Teaching about the most dangerous rock in America

    By Bill Bigelow Students play a game promoted by the coal industrythen dig beneath the surface to look at the realities of mountaintop removal mining.
  • Coal at the Movies

    Classroom DVDs on coal and mountaintop removal mining

    By Compiled by Bill Bigelow Video resources for the classroom, plus links to activist websites.
  • Science for the People

    High school students investigate community air quality

    By Tony Marks-Block Ninth graders develop science literacy as they become neighborhood environmental experts and activists.
  • Features
  • Who’s Bashing Teachers and Public Schools and What Can We Do About It?

    By Stan Karp To build an effective movement against the top-down strategies that are ripping public education apart, we need to take a closer look at who wants reform and why.
  • Keepers of the Second Throat

    By Patricia Smith When Chicago stole my mothers tongue, it also stole all her yesterdays. A poets lyric plea for teachers to nurture their students voices and stories.
  • Talking Back to the World

    Turning poetic lines into visual poetry

    By Renee Watson Student poetry about what raised me is woven into graphic art.
  • Bad Signs

    By Alfie Kohn What are the real messages in the inspirational slogans covering classroom walls? Plus some better alternatives.
  • Fuzzy Math

    A meditation on test scoring

    By Meredith Jacks A middle school writing teacher reflects on a day spent scoring districtwide math tests.
  • Support That Can’t Support

    My induction program experience

    By Elaine Engel Are peer mentoring programs bowing to the pressure to teach to the test?
  • Departments Free
  • Action News • Wisconsin Uprising

  • Good Stuff

    By Herb Kohl
  • First and Second title both empty, Update me!

  • Scholastic Inc

    By Bill Bigelow

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Keepers of the Second Throat

Keepers of the Second Throat

Let me introduce you to my mother, Annie Pearl Smith of Aliceville, Ala. In the 1950s, along with thousands of other apprehensive but determined Southerners, their eyes locked on the second incarnation of the North Star, she packed up her whole life and headed for the city, with its tenements, its promise, its rows of factories like open mouths feeding on hope.

One day not too long ago, I called my mother, but she was too busy to talk to me. She seemed in a great hurry. When I asked her where she was going, she said, Im on my way to my English lesson.

My Mother Learns English


Jittery emigrant at 64, my mother is learning English.

Pulling rubbery cinnamon-tinged hose to a roll beneath

her knees, sporting one swirling Baptist ski slope of a hat,

she rides the rattling elevated to a Windy City spire

and pulls back her gulp as the elevator hurtles heaven.

Then shes stiffly seated at a scarred oak table

across from a white, government-sanctioned savior

who has dedicated eight hours a week to straightening

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