Articles

Teaching Social Activism in Prison

The Leap Manifesto and Incarcerated Youth

A Connecticut educator who taught English to incarcerated young men for 20 years describes what happened when she introduced her students to the Canadian “Leap Manifesto.” >>> Manson Youth Institution is a maximum security correctional facility for adolescent males tried and sentenced as adults in the Connecticut Department of Correction. Its population is composed mostly of poor men of color with histories of abuse, detention, and truancy. Education is mandatory for the majority of Manson’s inmates: boys file up to school — right side of the yellow line, no talking, IDs out, shirts tucked, heads down — bearing the anger, frustration, fear, and loneliness that inheres to incarcerated life. . . .

Teaching Social Activism in Prison

"What Kind Are You?"

Transgender Characters in Children’s Literature

A school librarian describes children’s books with strong transgender characters and themes. >>> Some of those who wished to remove George denied that it was because of the book’s transgender protagonist, and instead cited concerns over passing references to dirty magazines and characters who erased their internet search history in order to hide that information from their parents.

"What Kind Are You?"

Queering Black History and Getting Free

A Black freedom organizer demands that teachers and activists radically change their frameworks around Black history by lifting up the stories of Black LGBTQ people like Marsha P. Johnson. >>> Queering Black history means canonizing Marsha P. Johnson as a matriarch of Black America. Putting her face on those calendars and poster collages right next to Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Coretta Scott King, and Michelle Obama. It means studying her ACT UP campaigns in high school classrooms. It means mourning her too-early death just as we mourn the deaths of cisgender men like Malcolm and Medgar. It means examining why it took 20 years for the NYPD to investigate that death as a murder, and having conversations about the role of the Black freedom movement in bringing about trans liberation today. . . .

Queering Black History and Getting Free

Teaching Them into Existence

A high school English teacher (also the QSA staff advisor) wrestles with the suicide of a transgender student and calls on heterosexual and cisgender teachers to integrate LGBTQ authors, themes, and history into their classrooms. >>> Teaching isn’t supposed to include life-or-death consequences, but it does. When it comes to LGBTQ students, we fail to hold space for their existence. Heterocentric, cisnormative curriculum writes out the existence of LGBTQ lives. Campaigns such as Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better,” spur and go viral precisely because we aren’t actually reassuring youth that their existence is acceptable, real, normal. We need an “It Gets Better” campaign because high school is awful for LGBTQ kids, high school is fatal. . . .

Teaching Them into Existence

On Behalf of Their Name

Using They/Them Pronouns Because They Need Us To

The staff advisor for their high school’s Queer-Straight Alliance delves into the complexities of a student-led training for teachers on the importance of using students’ preferred pronouns. >>> Adrienne Rich’s quote illuminated the projector screen welcoming teachers as they entered the library for a 90-minute training on gender and sexuality acceptance led by the Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA) — a student organization that I am the staff advisor for. Our large urban school holds about 100 staff members. Maybe 3 percent looked forward to this training. The rest sat with their arms crossed, present only because admin mandated their attendance. . . .

On Behalf of Their Name

Our picks for books, videos, websites, and other social justice education resources

Curriculum Six by Ten: Stories from Solitary Edited by Taylor Pendergrass and Mateo Hoke(Haymarket Books, 2018)282 pp. This volume is the latest from Voices of Witness, a nonprofit seeking to amplify “unheard voices” through oral history. Six by Ten offers 13 stories of solitary confinement from prisoners, former prisoners, their families, and prison workers. These histories confirm that solitary confinement is torture, but also explain its place in the larger dehumanization...

Our picks for books, videos, websites, and other social justice education resources

Celebrating Transgender Students in Our Classrooms and in Our Schools

What can teachers, schools, and districts do to meet the needs of trans students? To make them visible? To keep them alive? To celebrate them?

Celebrating Transgender Students in Our Classrooms and in Our Schools

Nurturing Student Activists in the Time of Trump

How we seed and support student activism will vary from community to community, school to school, and grade level to grade level. But this is a crucial moment in history, and what we do as educators matters. When we help students explore and analyze exploitation, injustice, and danger in the world, we can also help them develop the knowledge and skills to change it.

Nurturing Student Activists in the Time of Trump

Despite National Outrage, Scholastic Defends Children’s Books Celebrating Trump

His buildings reached into the sky.His businesses just grew and grew.Then Trump became our president —people wanted something new. Believe it or not, this poem is included in a picture book about President Trump, published by Scholastic Inc. for 5- to 7-year-olds — and sums up its message. A companion version for 8- to 12-year-olds is no better. It dedicates 10 glowing pages to Trump’s business career, high-rises, and casinos, but...

Despite National Outrage, Scholastic Defends Children’s Books Celebrating Trump

Measuring Water with Justice

A multidisciplinary lesson helps elementary students explore the economics, science, and politics of one of the world's most precious resources.

Measuring Water with Justice

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