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

First and Second title both empty, Update me!

Spring 2011


The Fair Housing Five and the Haunted House
By the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, illustrated by Sharika Mahdi
(Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, 2010)
31 pp. $27.95

The “Fair Housing Five” is a group of kids who gradually realize that a landlord in their neighborhood treats prospective renters unfairly. This picture book aimed at the early elementary grades is a thought-provoking introduction to different types of housing discrimination. It includes a glossary and discussion questions.



Screen-Free Week: 2011 Organizer’s Kit
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
69 pp. $17.95

According to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, preschoolers spend an average of 32 hours a week watching one kind of screen or another. That’s practically a full-time job—a harmful one. And it’s even worse for older kids. As Susan Linn, director of CCFC, points out in this valuable guide, this screen obsession deprives children “of hands-on creative play—the foundation of learning, creativity, constructive problem-solving, and the capacity to wrestle with life to make it meaningful.” And it gives children an early induction into a consumer culture that with each passing day is becoming more and more ecologically ruinous. The Organizer’s Kit offers step-by-step guidance for organizing screen-free weeks. It includes rationales, research and fact sheets, children’s testimonials, alternatives to spending time in front of screens, frequently asked questions and ways to respond to skeptics, organizing tips, sample outreach materials, curriculum ideas and student handouts for teachers, and ways to extend screen-free week into daily life. This is a wonderful resource—for organizing a screen-free week or as a year-round educational guide.

Following the Threads: Bringing Inquiry Research into the Classroom
By Doug Selwyn
(Peter Lang, 2010)
232 pp. $33.95

In Following the Threads, former K-12 teacher and current teacher educator Doug Selwyn explores how researchers use inquiry to guide their work. Selwyn interviews artists like Roger Shimomura, historians like Howard Zinn, classroom teachers, and others to illustrate the power of inquiry to connect learners with the world around them. Although at first glance Following the Threads may look like a research methods book, in reality this well-written and accessible volume is about inquiry as effective pedagogy.

The Black History of the White House
By Clarence Lusane
(City Lights, 2011)
575 pp. $19.95

When Barack Obama was elected president, there was much talk about how the Obamas would be the first African Americans to live in the White House. This was just one more example of the invisibility of people who were enslaved by 25 percent of our country’s presidents. The Obamas were the first African American first family, but not the first residents. This thoroughly researched and gripping book shares the untold stories of some of the people who were enslaved by U.S. presidents, including stories of resistance and escape. Lusane describes the myriad ways that the White House and the lives of African Americans have been intertwined throughout U.S. history. This is the only book to document this essential story in our country’s history.


Waging Nonviolence -

Established by three young journalists, this website is a resource for the often overlooked stories of current nonviolent responses to local and global conflict. Visual, readable, and ably edited, is a daily reminder that methods employed by successful civil rights and peace movements of the past are being used and built upon in justice struggles today—witness the thrilling recent events in Egypt. The site features a regular listing of Experiments with Truth, brief descriptions that link to accounts of labor strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, and other acts of creative resistance in the United States and abroad. The editors post thoughtful commentary, interviews, and analysis of current events, and invite readers, especially students, to comment and discuss. Teachers, students, and readers everywhere can learn from this site that, even in the most difficult circumstances, courageous nonviolence is people’s history being made today.

Freedom Riders - Website and film

Scheduled to air on PBS stations across the country in May 2011, this film documents the courageous story of the 400 freedom riders who challenged the Jim Crow laws on interstate travel in 1961. Produced by veteran filmmaker Stanley Nelson, the film demonstrates the resolve of the freedom riders and the brutality of the repression they faced. Based in part on the book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, by Raymond Arsenault, the film includes many first-person interviews. The pace of the film and drama of the story should capture the attention of high school students and above. Freedom Riders demonstrates beyond doubt that change came not from the federal government, but from the determined actions and keen strategy of hundreds of young people.


By Walter Dean Myers
(Egmont, 2009; 2011)
164 pp. $16.99 hardcover; $8.99 paperback

Walter Dean Myers’ new history book for young people is in the form of a screenplay about the 1863 draft riots in New York. So many points of view are introduced, it is clear why he chose the format of a play with more than two dozen characters. Through these many voices, readers learn how working people were pitted against each other based on race, class, and national origin. The police and the military, who were brought in to quell the riots against the Civil War draft, are introduced as characters in the drama as well. Myers is a collector of historical photos and documents, and Riot includes prints from his collection, adding to the book’s value for teaching history. Ideal for grades 7 and above.


Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History
Southern Poverty Law Center, 2010.
40 min. Free for schools (one copy per school)

This is an unforgettable film about bullying in schools told through the story of Jamie Nabozny, a gay student who was tormented mentally and physically from grade school to high school. School administrators consistently ignored pleas for help from Nabozny and his parents. He finally found a legal advocate who took his case to court and won a precedent-setting case. The film weaves scenes of Nabozny speaking to a high school assembly and dramatizations of his own experiences. Bullied includes interviews with his mother, who describes the anguish of not being able to keep her son safe; as a working-class family, they could not afford an alternative school setting for Jamie. This film raises awareness about the realities of bullying of all children and the particular impact of homophobic harassment and violence. It takes the commitment of everyone in a school community to create a safe and respectful environment for all students; this film and the accompanying viewers guide are major contributions to that effort. Grade 7 to adult.

Compiled by Deborah Menkart, Bill Bigelow, Wayne Au, Jody Sokolower, and Susan Van Haitsma.