In the News

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Bringing Parents of Underserved Students Into Schools: Ways to Go About It

Published November 1, 2015 by Education Week

School leaders often say they want to engage families, but it can be a struggle to know just how to do it.

While most teachers in the nation’s schools are middle class and white, experts say diversity and poverty among students are creating a growing mismatch between educators and students and families. To build partnerships with parents from different cultures takes some intentionality and creative outreach.

Parenting can be isolating and participating in organizational activities can help families find strength in numbers, said Allyson Criner Brown, an associate director of Teaching for Change, a nonprofit that helps schools and parents build positive connections in Washington. She added: “Parents are willing to be part of the solution. It’s creating opportunities for them to bring it up.”

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Schools Enlist Parents to Bridge Cultural Barriers

Published October 27, 2015 by Education Week

The key is to change the relationship from one of distrust to one of respect and collaboration. “We are moving from thinking of parents as the problem to parents as partners,” said Henderson, a co-author of the 2007 book Beyond the Bake Sale.

Take Mt. Rainier Elementary School in Maryland, composed mostly of Hispanic and African-American students, about half of whom are English-language learners. Principal Shawn Hintz wanted to do more than hold a social event, such as the annual barbecue, to engage families in the education of their children and the decisions of the school.

In partnership with Teaching for Change, a nonprofit that helps schools and parents build positive connections, Mt. Rainier last year invited parents into the classroom, with translators who could help educators explain how lessons were taught so they could replicate the methods at home. Hintz also hosts regular parent-principal “chit-chats” where parents are encouraged to raise issues.

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Parents Struggle With The Ways Gentrification Changes Bilingual Schools

Published October 12, 2015 by Think Progress

Sometimes parents dismiss other parents or don’t hear other parents’ concerns because of differences in race, income, language, and education, said Allyson Criner Brown, associate director of Teaching For Change. Criner Brown has been working with parents at Powell to make sure parent communities are able to communicate across race, education, language, and income, but it’s a work in progress. Now that parents in the evening meeting have started a nonprofit organization for parents at Powell, Parents Organized for the Power of Powell, or POPP, many of the differences between parent communities are being highlighted.

“Powell has been full of parent leaders for a number of years … That is one of the reasons Powell is a school parents are clamoring to get their children into. They are primarily families of color, immigrant families, Hispanic-speaking families, so they were doing things for the school but they weren’t necessarily doing as a [nonprofit organization],” Criner Brown said. “So how do we bridge those ways of working and acknowledge that people have different experiences? You’re more likely to have experiences operating in organizations that use Robert’s Rules of Order, and more likely to work in an organization that has a board a secretary and a treasurer and is going to do minutes at every meeting, and that’s where we’re trying to look at.”

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Has the D.C. Council Forgotten Orr Elementary School?

Published May 26, 2015 by Young Education Professionals (YEP)

The D.C. Council promised Orr funds for modernization in 2012. Last year, Teaching for Change and Orr parents successfully advocated for a $3 million grant to secure an architect to design a new school that would open for the 2017-18 school year. Due to the vast amount of renovations that would be needed, it was decided that it would be more cost-effective to build a new school than to modernize the current one.

Work on the new building was supposed to begin last fall.  However, in the fall of 2014, Orr was informed that they would not receive their new funds for another year, and the new building would not be ready until 2018-19. But if the D.C. Council does not include funds for the architect in their final budget for school year 2015-16, which is due June 6, the entire project will be pushed back further—potentially indefinitely. Throughout all of this delay, Orr and Teaching for Change have been left in the dark about the project’s progress.
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Mayor Launches Art Program With Pop-Up Showcase in Navy Yard

Published May 22, 2015 by Hill Now

Go-go musicians, a symphony and a performing arts group descended on a Navy Yard park today for a pop-up showcase, as part of a new program to encourage art in D.C. neighborhoods.

Teaching for Change, the Gourmet Symphony and the Atlas Performing Arts Center came to Canal Park to show off projects they’re working on for the Capitol Hill area and other parts of the District. The event launched “District Innovation Zones,” which Mayor Muriel Bowser said will provide a temporary “stage for artists” at Canal Park and other locations across D.C.

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Teaching for Change moves online amid challenges for diversity in books

Published March 18, 2015 by The Washington Post

Books seem to consecrate certain spaces — especially rooms where you don’t expect to find them. Like gracious hosts, they welcome you. Like confidants, they reveal far more about where you are than the decor ever could. When I first walked into Busboys & Poets’ 14th and V Street location, the hostess greeted me warmly, but it was Teaching for Change, the bookstore tucked into the corner behind her, that beckoned me in.

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Politics and Prose to Sell Books at Flagship Busboys and Poets

Published March 5, 2015 by Shelf Awareness

This spring Teaching for Change, which for 10 years has owned and run the bookstore at the flagship Busboys and Poets restaurant at 14th and V Street, N.W., in Washington, D.C., will hand over responsibility for the bookstore to Politics and Prose, which now operates bookstores at the five other Busboys and Poets locations, which are in Maryland, Virginia and the District. Teaching for Change will continue to review, recommend and promote books that address key themes in the classroom and current events online through its webstore,

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Works4Me: Making the Connection

Published November, 2014 by National Education Association (NEA)

When parents and students come from various countries, different backgrounds, and even have language or literacy skills that vary, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to begin with parent outreach and involvement.

At Mt. Rainier Elementary School in Prince Georges County, Md., story sharing is the first step.

That’s the foundation of Tellin’ Stories, Family Partners, a new program made possible through the social justice organization Teaching for Change.

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D.C. mayoral candidates sound off on future of charter and traditional schools

Published October 23, 2014 by The Washington Post

D.C. mayoral candidates faced a math problem of sorts Wednesday night at the campaign’s only major forum devoted to education: In 1966, the District had about 147,000 students in 196 schools. Now, there are 86,000 students in 213 neighborhood and charter school buildings, yet the city continues to open charter schools.

Is this path sustainable?

After the forum, Deborah Menkart, executive director of the nonprofit Teaching for Change, said she was dismayed that the candidates seem so focused on expanding choice, which she believes could undermine neighborhood schools. “It’s a runaway train,” she said.

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Cool Idea of the Day: ‘Sponsor a Bookshelf’

Published October 6, 2014 by Shelf Awareness

The Teaching for Change Bookstore at Busboys and Poets, Washington, D.C., which features “books that encourage children and adults to question, challenge and re-think the world beyond the headlines,” has launched a “Sponsor a Bookshelf” initiative “to keep the bookstore in operation, curate the selection of books and coordinate author events. Become a part of our bookstore by sponsoring one of 20+ shelves from which thousands of parents, teachers, activists, and the general public browse and buy books.”

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Race, Perspective, and Bookstores: Local Shops Promote “A Fuller Picture of Life”

Published August, 2014 by East of the River DC News

Educator and activist Allison R. Brown adds that the TFC bookstore is more than its books or events. “Between the titles, book signings, and patrons looking for smart titles to add to their libraries,” Brown argues, TFC bookstore changes perceptions. “TFC helps bridge the divide between perception and reality for those who don’t perceive of people of color as intellectuals.” She adds a concern that gentrification will lead to loss of “places for people to make that connection. I think DC is a model of bridging that perception with reality solely because of the Teaching for Change bookstore. There isn’t another place like it in the city.”

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Teaching About Ferguson: Do’s and Dont’s

Published August 17, 2014 by The Root

Do take advantage of prepackaged lesson plans: You don’t have to start from scratch. Teaching for Change goes beyond proposing individual materials and offers a set of full-formed lesson plans relevant to the issues raised by Mike Brown’s death. (There are materials on everything from the militarization of police to human rights.)

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Limbaugh Attacks D.C.’s Busboys and Poets

Published July 12, 2014 by The Washington Afro American

Radio personality Rush Limbaugh, known for his racist tirades, attacked popular D.C. bookstore, Busboys and Poets, because “it dissed his tow children’s books.” The ultra-conservative talk show host was upset that the executive director of teaching for Change remarked on a C-Span network that it specialized in children’s books written by and about people of color and many times ignored best sellers, like that of rush Limbaugh.

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Rush into Battle

Published June 19, 2014 by Teaching Tolerance

You wouldn’t expect a health food store to carry Pringles.

Nor would you tune in to the Cartoon Network in search of episodes of Mad Men or Breaking Bad.

So we’re wondering why Rush Limbaugh thinks the Teaching for Change Bookstore at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., should carry his Rush Revere line of books for young readers?

If you don’t know about the Teaching for Change Bookstore—and it’s well worth knowing—here’s the lowdown. It’s small and selective. Its children’s section gives priority to books that feature children of color. They do not offer Mr. Limbaugh’s books.

Continue reading at Teaching Tolerance >>


Teaching for Change, Supporters React to Limbaugh Slam

Published June 19, 2014 by American Booksellers Association

The Teaching for Change Bookstore at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., strives to feature titles reflecting the country’s population, including the 37 percent of Americans who are people of color, despite the fact that only 10 percent of books published in the past five years have been about people of color.

During a C-SPAN Book TV broadcast last week, Teaching for Change Executive Director Deborah Menkart discussed the need for diverse children’s books and noted that nearly 90 percent of the children’s titles sold by the store are about or by people of color. Rush Limbaugh’s Rush Revere books for children are not carried at the store because they don’t adhere to the store’s mission, she said.

Continue reading at American Booksellers Association >>


Rush Limbaugh Goes on Rant Accusing Teaching for Change of Racism

Published June 19, 2014 by Human Rights Campaign

Rush Limbaugh doesn’t seem to understand what racism is. On Wednesday, he called out Teaching for Change for not carrying his own children’s books and for promoting books written by and about people of color.

“This is exclusionary, it’s racist, it’s bigoted, and it’s the opposite of everything they claim to be,” he said on his radio show. “They claim that they’re tolerant. They claim they’re open-minded. They claim that they are colorblind and all that. They are the most bigoted, racist people.”

Limbaugh gets it wrong in more ways than one. Teaching for Change never said anything about being colorblind.

Continue reading at Human Rights Campaign >>


Rush Revere: Victor Vanquished by Tiny Bookstore?

Published June 19, 2014 by Education Town Hall

“American children are growing up with a distorted sense of reality: white children see themselves reflected endlessly” in children’s books, says author and activist Zetta Elliott, “whereas children of color rarely see themselves at all.”

The Cooperative Children’s Book Council has been reviewing and documenting the state of children’s publishing for more than 25 years. Their report finds that most children’s books — well over 90% of those reviewed in 2013 — are still about white children.

“Industry gatekeepers seem determined to exclude writers of color,” Elliott says, citing her own experiences in publishing. She self-publishes her children’s books, and then finds that her titles “face further exclusion from large and small booksellers alike.”

Continue reading at Education Town Hall >>


Rush Limbaugh Calls Teaching for Change Racist

Published June 19, 2014 by Shelf Awareness

On his show yesterday, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh devoted an entire segment to harshly criticizing Teaching for Change for emphasizing children’s books about people of color at a time when just 10% of titles published during the last five years were about people of color.

Limbaugh called the organization “racist” for not carrying his bestselling children’s books at Busboys and Poets, Washington, D.C., where Teaching for Change runs a bookstore and schedules/hosts many of the author events. He learned about the decision while watching a recent C-Span 2 Book TV broadcast during which Teaching for Change executive director Deborah Menkart introduced Dave Zirin, author of Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy.

Continue reading at Shelf Awareness >>


Support Teaching for Change!

Published June 17, 2014 by Fledgling, Zetta Elliott’s Blog

Rush Limbaugh has directed his hordes to attack the nonprofit bookstore run by Teaching for Change. Believe it or not, he thinks they’re racist for promoting books by people of color!

You can read all about it over at the TFC blog, OR you can show your support by purchasing more multicultural books from them! All of my titles are available on their website and I know you can get Max Loves Muñecas! in the D.C. store. You can’t really reason with online trolls but you can put your money where your mouth is…

Continue reading at Fledgling, Zetta Elliott’s Blog >>

washington city paper

Rush Limbaugh Attacks the Bookstore at Busboys and Poets

Published June 17, 2014 by Washington City Paper

The independently operated bookstore at the V Street NW location of Busboys and Poets became the target of one of conservative radio hosts Rush Limbaugh’s on-air diatribes Monday.

Limbaugh blasted the store, which is operated by the nonprofit Teaching for Change, for not selling his new children’s book, Rush Revere and the First Patriots.

Continue reading at Washington City Paper >>

daily kos

Aw, Rush Limbaugh’s Sad – Tiny Bookstore Rejects His Books & Won’t Play With Him

Published June 19, 2014 by Daily Kos

Finally, it took a small, independent bookstore in Washington DC to stand up and turn down Rush Limbaugh’s children’s history books. The words sting my fingers as I type: Limbaugh-Children-History-Books. (One of these things is so not like the others.)

Teaching For Change, a non profit organization that owns, operates and is housed in Busboys And Poets, ‘encourages teachers and students to question and re-think the world inside and outside their classrooms, build a more equitable, multicultural society, and become active global citizens.’ It’s no wonder they flat out rejected Limbaugh’s ridiculous ‘Rush Revere’ books. Limbaugh’s response?

Continue reading at Daily Kos >>


Tellin Stores, Finding Common Ground

Published Spring, 2009 by Rethinking Schools Online

In October 1999,  a small group of African American and Latino parents gathered at Washington D.C.’s Bruce-Monroe Elementary School to begin a workshop series facilitated by Teaching for Change’s parent empowerment project Tellin’ Stories. During the first workshop, the organizers placed a “story fortune” bag in the middle of the room. The bag was filled with evocative storytelling prompts, such as “My first day of school,” “A time my Mom/Dad made me proud,” and “A time I felt I had no voice.” As the parents chose prompts and shared stories, they began to build bonds of empathy. During the next few weeks, they shared stories and participated in other trust-building activities through which they talked about their challenges, their children, and positive and negative experiences with the school.
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Rethinking History’s Heroes: Parkland teacher says heroes are ordinary people doing extraordinary things

Published May 4, 2005 by The Gazette

Activist-educator Alana Murray’s world studies students are rethinking history’s heroes and how they achieved great things. “If you start with the premise that kids interact everyday with people who are doing pretty extraordinary things, then it gives them a sense of empowerment,” said Murray, a teacher at Parkland Middle School in Aspen Hill.

That idea is nothing new to Murray, who comes from a family active in the civil rights movement for generations. Growing up with examples like her paternal grandfather, Donald Gaines Murray, the first African American to attend the University of Maryland School of Law, she says heroes are not born extraordinary, but are ordinary people who learn to do great things as they confront problems.

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Parents protest state of Bruce Monroe classrooms

Published June, 2004 by DC North

A diverse group of parents and children marched in the quickly heating sun to urge the construction of walls in the school’s open-space classrooms on the morning of May 25 in front of Bruce-Monroe Elementary School at 3012 Georgia Avenue NW.

“DCPS, are you teaching our kids to lie?” one mother shouted into a megaphone. “No more lies, we want action,” another called, with mimicking cries echoing from the crowd.

Beginning in April 2001, Parents and Friends of Bruce-Monroe began a campaign writing petitions, making phone calls, sending e-mails and visiting the superintendent’s office to insist walls be constructed to enclose the open-space classrooms the school has on its second floor.

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Residents Find Common Interest in Children: Nonprofit Group Helps Black, Hispanic Parents Reach  Out Each Other, Educators in NW

Published November 2, 2003 by The Washington Post

Chiquita White and Ana Urrutia are two women who, if not for their children—students at Brightwood Elementary School in Northwest Washington—would likely never have met. And even if they had, the chance that they would have developed a friendship was slim. But here they were, one gray, overcast morning last week, walking side by side, leading a group on a tour of the Brightwood neighborhood, which straddles the upper reaches of 14th Street and Georgia Avenue NW.

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Parents at DC Elementary School Demand Classrooms with Walls

Published in Summer, 2004

For three years, parents at Bruce-Monroe Elementary School in the District of Columbia have been demanding facility improvements. First and foremost on the list are walls.

Walls? Yup. Bruce Monroe is one of 23 schools in Washington, DC that does not have walls separating classrooms. The building was remodeled decades ago, as part of an experiment in “open floor plans.” School systems across the country tried such plans during the 1960s and 1970s, hoping that taking down the walls between grades and classrooms would encourage students and teachers to collaborate and work across age and subject groupings.

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D.C. Project Puts Parents in Classrooms: Building Bridges with Books

Published Spring, 1993 by Rethinking Schools

They are urban education’s silent partners: parents with a direct stake in the quality of urban public schools but whom, for a variety of reasons, the schools have been unable to involve in school activities. Yet in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, a small group of such silent partners has gotten involved. For the past six months, they have spent their Saturday afternoons writing about their lives and sharing the stories as part of a writing workshop. As a result of the project the parents, who are predominantly African-American and Latinos, are learning about each other and are helping to write a new chapter on family involvement programs.

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Historian Juan Garcia Salazar shares stories with children

Published March 26 1993 by El Tiempo Latino

Ecuadorian historian Juan Garcia Salazar shared stories with children at the Mt. Pleasant Library to highlight the African influence on his country’s culture. The children were from Tubman Elementary School.

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