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Table of Contents

    Cover Theme: Making Black Lives Matter in Our Schools
  • Free Editorial: Making Black Lives Matter in Our Schools

    By the editors of Rethinking Schools

    As we return to our schools this fall, we need to rededicate ourselves to building an education system and a society that values Black lives. 

  • Free How One Elementary School Sparked A Citywide Movement to Make Black Students' Lives Matter

    By Wayne Au, Jesse Hagopian

    Teachers at one Seattle school show the important role educators have to play in the movement for Black lives, in part by creating a Black Lives Matter at School day, having 3,000 teachers wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts, and responding together to issues like the death of Charleena Lyles. 

  • Free Beyond Just a Cells Unit

    What My Science Students Learned from the Story of Henrietta Lacks

    By Gretchen Kraig-Turner

    A science teacher includes Black voices and Black history in her classroom by building curriculum around The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. In doing so, she shows how nonfiction books should not be relegated to language arts but can be effective in a science classroom.

  • Free What We Don't Learn About the Black Panther Party — but Should

    By Adam Sanchez, Jesse Hagopian

    The history of the Black Panther Party holds vital lessons for today’s movement for Black lives and all movements to confront racism, inequality, and police violence. But our textbooks distort the significance of the Panthers — or exclude them completely.

  • Free Black is Beautiful

    By Kara Hinderlie

    A kindergarten teacher uses images, literature, poetry, and collages — as well as her own history — to challenge students' implicit bias and preconceived notions surrounding the color black and to teach the lesson that Black is beautiful.

  • Free Who Do I Belong To?

    A Black Teacher's Dilemma

    By Natalie Labossiere

    A teacher in a predominantly white school and classroom describes how she chose to protect and educate one of her Black students, rather than use him to educate her white students.

  • Features
  • The Struggle for Bilingual Education

    An Interview by Bob Peterson with Bilingual Education Advocate Tony Báez

    By Bob Peterson

    Organizer and advocate Tony Báez has been fighting for improved bilingual education programs for decades. In this interview, he talks about the current state of bilingual education and describes how parents and educators won a maintenance K–12 bilingual program in the Milwaukee Public Schools.

  • "Stupid Book of Wrongness"

    The Heartland Institute's Climate Change Denial Book Meets Informed 3rd and 4th Graders

    By Eric Fishman

    A teacher shows his 3rd- and 4th-grade students the Heartland Institute's climate change denial book that was sent to every science teacher in the nation. 

  • "No One is Going to Tell Us What is Right"

    Language and Decolonization in Alaska

    By Lauren Markham

    A journalist explores the way Indigenous language and community is connected to the classroom in several communities in Alaska, and explores how educators there have built new frameworks to fight against Eurocentric curriculum.

  • Resources
  • Free Our Fall 2017 Picks for Books, Videos, Websites, and Other Social Justice Education Resources

  • Departments Free
    Ed Alert
  • Curtis Acosta on the Tucson Ethnic Studies Victory

    By Ari Bloomekatz

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"No One is Going to Tell Us What is Right"

Language and Decolonization in Alaska
"No One is Going to Tell Us What is Right"

Nathaniel Wilder

Among the few things that those of us from beneath the Arctic Circle are likely to know about polar Alaska is that the Inuit peoples have dozens of words for snow. It’s such a darling and oft-repeated fact that one wonders if it’s legend. Yet inside a warm, 5th-grade classroom in Utqiaġvik, Alaska, on the edge of the Chukchi Sea — it’s 12 below zero outside and the wind is scouring the tundra — a group of 19 students sit at rapt attention, copying their new vocabulary words onto loose-leaf paper: the many Iñupiaq words for snow.

Qanataag,” the teacher writes on the board at the front of the class. The students repeat it back to her in a ragged chorus.

“Good,” she says. “Qanataag means ‘ice or snow overhang.’”

Apua,” she writes next. It means “snow on the ground.”

The lesson continues. Nutagaq: freshly fallen, unpacked snow. Silliq: snow made crusty and hard by the wind.

This is one of three classrooms at Ipalook Elementary School that teach Iñupiaq, the language of the Iñupiat people who are native to this flat, frozen stretch of North America. In the North Slope Borough School District, of which Ipalook is a part, Iñupiaq is a required class for all students, kindergarten through 12th grade. Even non-Iñupiaq students — about a quarter of the North Slope population — must take a course in Iñupiaq, the language of the place where they are being raised. Thanks to the wounds of history and the pressures of modern life, Iñupiaq is fast disappearing, not unlike the sea ice that historically surrounds the North Slope for the majority of the year.

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