Current News

Teaching for Change on NPR’s All Things Considered


Teaching for Change associate director Allyson Criner Brown was interviewed by NPR’s Eyder Peralta, along with scholar Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and children’s book author Matt de la Peña in a four minute segment on the recall of A Birthday Cake for George WashingtonRead more.

Considerations for Early Childhood and Early Elementary Educators on Slavery and Resistance


The recent successful grassroots campaign that resulted in the recall of the children’s book A Birthday Cake for George Washington has brought more people into the conversation about how and when to talk to young children about the history of enslavement of Africans in the United States. To support and deepen this important conversation, we share with you key articles for reflection followed by suggested books for children and adults. Read more.

Invitation: Teacher Workshop on Go-Go

The Smithsonian Anacostia Museum invites DCPS 12th grade teachers to view the new museum exhibition Twelve Years that Shook and Shaped Washington, 1963-1975 and get an introduction to Teaching for Change’s Teach the Beat initiative to infuse D.C.’s rich history of go-go into the curriculum. Read more.

Howard County Students Speak Out

Students at Mount Hebron High School in Ellicott City, Md., walked out of school on Tuesday, Feb. 2 after a student video disparaging the Black Lives Matter movement went viral. (Donna St. George/The Washington Post)

Students at Mount Hebron High School in Howard County, Maryland walked out of school on Feb. 2 after a student video with a racist message was shared on social media. We share here the speech given during the walkout by one of the students. Read more.

Bad Advice from NPR’s Weekend Edition on Racist Children’s Books

It was bad enough that Scholastic published a book with happy slaves baking a cake for their owner (George Washington) in 2016—now NPR’s Weekend Edition recommends that parents read racist books to their children. Granted, they meant critically. Here are a few of the problematic recommendations and assumptions in the Weekend Edition story. Read more.

Parent Advocacy Wins Six New After School Positions

Ms. Merino was one of the Latino parents seated at the table on November 24, 2015, for a meeting with the director of DCPS’s Out of School Time Programs, Margareth Legaspi.  Amy Meija, the co-president of the grassroots parents organization Parents and Teachers United for BMPV (PTU), and other parent leaders repeatedly requested a meeting with Ms. Legaspi to address a top concern at their school: the waiting list of 75 students for an understaffed after school program.  Read more.

Parent Organizing in the News

Teaching for Change’s nationally recognized family engagement project, Tellin’ Stories, added new accolades in 2015 with featured stories in Education Week and ThinkProgress.  Read more.

Principal Chit Chats Boost School Success

It was the first Principal Coffee of the year at Thomson, a fourth-year Tellin’ Stories partner school located in downtown Washington, D.C. The monthly coffees are Thomson’s version of Parent-Principal Chit Chats, a signature activity of the Tellin’ Stories approach to family engagement. The chats strengthen the link between home and school, and foster relationship building among parents, and between parents and the principal. Read more.

Early Steps for a Parent Leader


Ms. Rodriguez met with Teaching for Change parent organizers, the parent coordinator, and two other parent leaders – one from the Caribbean and the other from Ethiopia – to plan the upcoming Welcome Back Breakfast for parents. With Teaching for Change’s approach, parent leaders are encouraged to take part in the planning of family engagement activities and not just attend as participants. Ms. Rodriguez was one of the parents who stepped up early in the year, before most activities even began. Read more.

Under Pressure, Scholastic Recalls Racist Children’s Book

A firestorm erupted when Scholastic released a children’s book early this month, A Birthday Cake for George Washington, by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, featuring smiling slaves baking a cake for George Washington. It was not until a grassroots campaign by librarians, social justice organizations, #BlackLivesMatter activists, journalists, and others that Scholastic took the extraordinary step of recalling the book. Read more.

NOT Recommended: A Birthday Cake for George Washington

A Birthday Cake for George Washington, recently published by Scholastic, left us at Teaching for Change, and many others furious and incredulous that this children’s book was published in 2016. A book about Hercules as the first celebrity chef in the U.S. could be a welcome title in a landscape that lacks sufficient quality books by and about people of color, much less about slavery. But the story and illustrations in Birthday Cake are a step backward, not forward. Read more.

Vernon F. Dahmer: Civil Rights Martyr and American Hero


Vernon Dahmer was a civil rights leader, community leader, and businessman in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In the early hours of January 10, 1966, members of the Ku Klux Klan shot into and firebombed the home he shared with his wife and children in the Kelly Settlement section of Hattiesburg. It occurred soon after he announced on local radio that he would pay the poll taxes for those who could not afford them. Read more.

Teaching Eyes on the Prize


Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1985 will be rebroadcast in full this spring. Teaching for Change highly recommends the film series and companion resources for teachers and students to learn about the truths of this historical period and the organized struggle for racial, social, and economic justice. We share classroom resources tied to the Eyes on the Prize series and a webinar announcement. Read more.

Who Killed Sammy Younge Jr.? SNCC, Vietnam, and the Fight for Racial Justice


This week marks the 50th anniversary of the murder of Sammy Younge Jr. (January 3, 1966) and a powerful statement of protest against the Vietnam War issued three days later by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The statement called out the hypocrisy of the U.S. government, which claimed to wage a war for democracy overseas at the same moment it was also waging war against those fighting for democracy in the United States. Read more.

Rick Reinhard: Movement Photographer

Rick Reinhard on front steps of 1910 Park Rd NW home (c) Willa Reinhard 2000 Washington DC Sept. 28, 2000 #000928-1-5

Rick Reinhard’s powerful images have supported movements for liberation in El Salvador, environmental justice, anti-war, labor, immigrant rights, civil rights, ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬, electoral campaigns, anti-apartheid, and much more. Read more.

Fight the Miseducation of the American People

Like you, we are outraged by the crises in the world today and the responses fueled by ignorance and hatred. We are proud of the many ways we help students learn the truth about history and their vital role as informed and active citizens. Next year, with your help, we will provide teachers with new tools to teach about the history of race, racism, and resistance through the history of the Civil Rights Movement. These lessons will help students recognize the long history of the struggle to make #BlackLivesMatter and be prepared to resist the divide and conquer tactics of today. Read more.

More Teachers Than Ever Teach People’s History



 The Zinn Education Project, a joint project of Teaching for Change and Rethinking Schools, now has more than 55,500 teachers who have signed up to download our free “teaching outside the textbook” materials. Our lessons, resource guides, and other materials had enormous impact in 2015. Read more.

Teaching for Change in 2015

As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we are pleased to share highlights from Teaching for Change’s work in 2015. This is just a small window into our accomplishments. Our success is made possible by the ongoing support of allies like you. Help us deepen our impact by sharing these stories (as well as our resources for parents and teachers) as we continue building social justice, starting in the classroom. Read more.

Why Are They Coming?: Uncovering History of Central America

“If we don’t know their history, then we can’t understand why they are leaving their homes to come to the U.S.”  Every workshop offered by Teaching for Change staff begins with the question, “How many Central Americans of note–from history or today–can you name?” Even in schools with majority Central American students, no one names more than one. How can teachers understand why families are fleeing the region, or teach the refugee students about their history, if they don’t know it themselves? Read more.

Closed for Learning: The Impact of School Closures on Students and Communities

On December 10, the Journey for Justice Alliance held a Congressional briefing with two panel discussions called Closed for Learning: The Impact of School Closures on Students and Communities. The first panel focused on the negative effect the closing of neighborhood schools have on the community. He referenced the report, Death by a Thousand Cuts. The second panel addressed the current practice of relying on charter schools as an alternative to public schools. This panel later turned to viable solutions such community schools. Read more.

Hands-On Introduction to Beyond Heroes and Holidays for ACPS


Our challenge was to introduce 35 educators to their new copies of Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development in 75 minutes. Here is how we approached this short introduction to a hefty book and deep topic. Read more.

Learn the Hidden History of the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Students from preschool through high school learn that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in Montgomery, the buses were desegregated, and the Civil Rights Movement was launched. This quiz explores some of the myths surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and provides an opportunity to learn about the strategic brilliance and courage of the African American community in Montgomery. Read more.

How Well Do You Know D.C.?


When most people think of Washington, D.C., they think of monuments, museums, and the federal government. Often overlooked is the local city, long shaped by issues of race, class, and colonial status. Take our quiz and find out how well you know the real D.C. Read more.

National Cathedral School Community Supports Teaching for Change


Students, staff, parents, and friends of the National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C. gathered in late September for a service based on Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming. Jane Simchak, a teacher in the Lower School, spoke about the book and in particular the theme of her grandfather’s garden and growth that comes in all aspects of our lives. The offertory for the service was collected on behalf of Teaching for Change. Read more.

D.C. Teachers Launch Stories from Our Classrooms


Fourteen D.C. area teachers gathered last Sunday to write stories from their classrooms. This was the first session in a year-long course launched by Teaching for Change. As a result of writing and reflecting together, teacher participants will deepen their own practice, build community among D.C. area social justice educators, and contribute to the all-too-scarce collection of published descriptions of classroom practice by teachers themselves. Read more.

Thank You to Our Teach the Beat Donors


Through the generous support of individual donors, Teaching for Change will continue to bring go-go into D.C. area classrooms. From June through September, Teaching for Change brought go-go performers and scholars to provide in-school coaching to students as part of a special grant from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. In September, we asked for individual contributions to help us continue this exciting program through the fall and beyond—and you responded! Read more.

Debut Book Author Commits Proceeds to Teaching for Change


Debut young adult author Rebecca Villarreal has committed five percent of all net proceeds of her first book, The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón, (Mama Chelo Press, 2015) to Teaching for Change. Released in August, the book tells the story of two fifth graders – Selma Calderón and her best friend Hurley Bingenworth – as they use magical powers to travel the world and unravel the mystery of her missing parents while eating their favorite foods along the way. The duo is also challenged to find non-magical… Read more.

New Multicultural Children’s Books


This year we are pleasantly surprised to find more than the usual handful of new children’s books to recommend. There continues to be a critical scarcity of good children’s books by and about people of color, so we are happy to shine a light on these books that challenge the norm. Read more.

Mississippi Teacher Fellows Host Workshops Across the State


“I want to bring these lessons on teaching about the Civil Rights Movement to teachers in my school district.” Raymond Brookter’s sentiment was echoed by all the participants in our summer institute for Mississippi teacher fellows. On top of their full course load, these teachers rolled up their sleeves and made that vision a reality. In early September, teacher fellows in Kosciusko, Laurel, and Hattiesburg organized full-day workshops for teachers and/or students in their respective school districts. Read more.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Teaching History

On October 15, 2015, Teaching for Change staff member Julian Hipkins III had the opportunity to ask Ta-Nehisi Coates about how to teach students the truth “about white supremacy” without discouraging them and to let them know they can do “something to fight back against white supremacy and have hope for the future.” Coates’ response provides a powerful history lesson… Read more.

Preserving and Teaching Black History

During this powerful interview, Jenkins talks about the history of Howard University, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), pan-Africanism, liberatory education, the Association for the Study of African American Life and Culture (ASALH), Black history as American history, Stokely Carmichael, lessons from the barbershop, revolutionary nonviolence, and much more. Jenkins explains that in order to ensure that the next generation has access to the narratives of Black history… Read more.

House Parties Celebrate 25 Years of Teaching for Change


Fundraising has never been so much fun! Marrianne McMullen and Jeff Epton, along with their neighbor Andrea Vincent, invited people to their home in Brookland on September 20 for the first in our fall series of 25th anniversary Teaching for Change house parties. This wasn’t a stressful and stuffy major gala event—instead it was a grassroots fundraiser for a grassroots organization. There was a house full of wonderful company, scrumptious food, a relaxed atmosphere, and meaningful… Read more.

Amelia Boynton Robinson and the Dallas County Voters League


Mrs. Amelia Boynton Robinson passed away on August 26, 2015 at the age of 104. Boynton Robinson, brutally beaten on Bloody Sunday. Amelia Boynton Robinson, brutally beaten on Bloody Sunday. She is best known for her iconic photo after being beaten in Selma on Bloody Sunday. While the photo offers evidence of her bravery and sacrifice, people should also know that her activism on the Edmund Pettus Bridge was preceded by decades of work that helped to lay the groundwork… Read more.

Américas Award Book Winners and K-12 Workshop


The Américas Award has announced the 2015 titles: Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh and Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle. Both books, and their authors, are Teaching for Change favorites. Read more.

Stories from Our Classrooms: A Writing Course for D.C. Area Social Justice Teachers


This course is for D.C. area teachers who are eager to write about their own classrooms through a social justice lens. We will meet to write and revise stories with the goal of each participant preparing a piece for publication. Pam Bryant, a National Writing Project facilitator, will coach teachers through a variety of writing exercises; participants will provide ongoing feedback to each other. In addition, guest authors will attend some of the sessions to share insights and experiences related to publishing… Read more.

Julian Bond, ¡Presente!


We are deeply saddened at the passing of long time activist, professor, politician, and writer Julian Bond at the age of 75 on August 15, 2015. Bond was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) where he served as director of communications. He was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center; was elected to four terms in the Georgia House of Representatives and later to six terms in the Georgia Senate; and from 1998 to 2010, he was chairperson of the NAACP. Read more.

Building a Civil Rights Teaching Community in Mississippi


This summer, eleven middle and high school teachers from the across the state of Mississippi met to share resources, stories, and fellowship about how to bring a deeper understanding of the rich history of civil rights and labor movements in Mississippi to their students. During the course of the week they created a strong bond based on their shared commitment to introduce students to the bottom-up and often hidden history of the state. Read more.

Breaking Barriers of Race, Class, and Language in Schools


On July 22, 2015, Teaching for Change hosted a special event, “Race, Class, and Language: Breaking Barriers to Family Engagement in D.C.,” a briefing over breakfast with community stakeholders about the impact of gentrification and systemic inequities on full parental participation in schools. The event featured case studies from the 2015-2016 school year at school partnering with the Tellin’ Stories Project, Teaching for Change’s nationally recognized approach to family engagement. Read more.

A New Tradition for Families Going to Middle School

On May 29, 2015, breakfast greeted the fifth grade parents at Tyler Elementary (DCPS) a, first-year Tellin’ Stories partner school. The cheerful spread was part of a new tradition the teachers hoped to start for families preparing to make the leap from elementary to middle school: the Fifth Grade Family Promotional Breakfast. Read more.

Teaching Young Children about Race


Recent events— including the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the Charleston church shooting, and the debate over the Confederate flag— have led many parents and teachers to seek out resources to address issues of race and inequality with young children. We share with you here an excerpt from the book Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves. The book offers practical guidance to early childhood educators (including parents) for confronting barriers of prejudice, misinformation… Read more.

Go-Go Performers Coach Next Generation in D.C. Classrooms


What an experience to see renowned go-go musicians coaching and mentoring students in D.C. classrooms. Students perform with expert guidance, ask questions, and wear out the performers with requests for photos and autographs before they left. Meanwhile, the go-go performers leave with new-found respect for the dedication and hard work of classroom music teachers. The visits began in June and continue through the end of September as part of a special initiative… Read more.

An Outside Perspective on a Tellin’ Stories School


Just after the start of the school day on June 5, 2015, more than 20 parents gathered in the large meeting room to share their triumphs and challenges from the 2014-2015 school year at Thomson Elementary’s (DCPS) final Parent-Principal Chit Chat for the school year. The hour long breakfast meetings were established three years ago through a partnership with Teaching for Change’s Tellin’ Stories Project as a way to foster conversation and effective collaboration between families… Read more.

From D.C. to Central America, from Voting Rights to Sports: Teaching for Change at NCORE


Teaching for Change co-hosted four dynamic sessions at the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) late last month in Washington, D.C. NCORE had invited Teaching for Change to host these sessions in honor of our 25th anniversary. Read more.

2015 Summer Reading List


At Teaching for Change, we are proud of our carefully selected booklists that highlight titles by and about people of color as well as social justice themes. Unfortunately, this is not the industry norm. In the last 10 years, fewer than 10% of children’s books published in the U.S. were by or about people of color. This year’s New York Times Summer Reading List is comprised 100% of white authors. Read more.

Monseñor Oscar Romero: Tribute Poem


On the occasion of the beatification of Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero on May 23, 2015, we share “I Am the Land,” a tribute poem by our colleague (and former Teaching for Change board member) E. Ethelbert Miller. We also encourage educators to teach about Romero and many other unsung heroes in Central America with these resources designed to Put Central America on the Map in Schools. Read more.

Changing the Narrative About Selma


On this 50th anniversary year of the Voting Rights Act, the mainstream media features images of President Lyndon Johnson making history with the stroke of a pen. Hidden is the more pivotal role of brave people such as the child in the photo,  about to be arrested in Selma as he demands voting rights for all. Through our widely read article, The Selma Voting Rights Struggle: 15 Key Points from Bottom-Up History and Why It Matters Today by Emilye Crosby, we are pleased to have played a key role in uplifting… Read more.

Parents Visit Classrooms at Thomson Elementary School


The parents at Tellin’ Stories third-year partner school Thomson Elementary (DCPS) sat with anticipation for this meeting with the principal. On Friday, May 8, 2015, they gathered in the school cafeteria with Principal Carmen Shepherd and interpreters for a special Parent-Principal Chit Chat. “We’re going to do class visits today, because that’s something you requested—to see more of what classrooms in action look like,” said Principal Shepherd to the 20 parents in attendance. Read more.

International FilmFest Goes to D.C. Classrooms


Teaching for Change was pleased to help Filmfest DC 2015 bring filmmakers and students together for the fourth year in a row. In April 2015, students at three high schools in Washington, D.C., had the opportunity to talk with film’s directors about their documentaries. This year’s films were about gay marriage in the U.S. and education in Israel and Palestine. Read more.

Teach the Beat: Go-Go Goes to School


Teaching for Change, in partnership with DCPS, is pleased to announce that the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) has provided funding for the “Teach the Beat: Go-Go Goes to School: Artists and Scholars in the Classroom” initiative to infuse D.C.’s rich and unique tradition of go-go in the curriculum. To achieve this goal, go-go performers and scholars will be available to provide in-school coaching to D.C. public and public charter school teachers and students in music, social studies, and… Read more.

Orr Parents Take to Radio to Advocate for New Building


“The [condition] of the building doesn’t reflect the community inside the school,” stated Orr Elementary (DCPS) parent Ms. Sirrell Phillips in a radio interview to discuss the pressing need to modernize the building where her youngest child attends pre-Kindergarten. Phillips and another Orr parent, Mr. Bernard Dickey were featured guests on Taking Action, a weekly radio show hosted by Empower DC on WPFW 89.3FM. The parents and community supporting Orr Elementary, located in Ward 8 in Washington, D.C… Read more.

Victory Stolen from Ward 8: Parents Fight Again for Orr Modernization


Orr Elementary School (DCPS) parents in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8 have organized for many years to have the building modernized. Orr, with an almost entirely low-income African American student population, is among the last open floor plan schools in the District. Built in 1974, it has never been modernized. The dedicated, high quality administration and teaching staff make this an over-enrolled and popular school, despite the building. Orr also serves the largest population of preschool through Kindergarten students… Read more.

Twitter Chat on Roving Readers Program April 22, 2015


Join Teaching for Change for a discussion of the Roving Readers program on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 9pm EST. The chat, hosted by the Institute for Educational Leadership, will give insights for schools that want to implement Roving Readers, a program to bring parents into the classroom to read multicultural books. Read more.

Race, Rights, and Responsibility: NY Education Conference


Teaching for Change is pleased co-sponsors Race, Rights, and Responsibility: What Educators Can Do to Help Their Students Think Critically About Protest, Law Enforcement, and Civil Liberty on May 16, 2015 at the NYU Global Center. The conference is coordinated by Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools (Metro Center), under the leadership of Professor David Kirkland. As explained on the Metro Center website… Read more.

International Filmmakers Come to DC Schools


Filmfest DC is back for its 29th year with an exciting new program of over 70 features, documentaries, and shorts representing the best in new cinema from around the globe. Producers from two of the films are available to visit with students in DC public or public charter school classrooms on April 23 and 24. Read more.

Lessons of Vietnam: Power of Protest


We encourage students and teachers to attend this convening in Washington, D.C. for the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam Peace Movement on May 1-2. Here is the description from the conference organizers: As war continues to be a clear and present danger to our democracy, we will gather to reflect and renew our commitments. Hundreds of us will come to the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, a meeting place and staging area for the huge anti-war mobilizations of the late 60s and early 70s. Read more.

Selma in Kosciusko


“Women can do just as much as men can when it comes to leadership.” This is just one of the comments made by students in Jessica Dickens’ class in Kosciusko, Mississippi. Dickens, a teacher the Kosciusko School District and Mississippi Civil Rights movement and Labor History teacher fellow, recently introduced the lesson, Stepping into Selma: Voting Rights History and Legacy Today, to her 10th grade class. Read more.

Participatory Principal Selection Process


Maria squeezed into the packed Parent Center at Bruce Monroe at Park View Elementary School in D.C. on Friday morning. She came to find out how she can be involved in choosing the school’s next principal in an interactive session led by Teaching for Change that brought to life information DCPS shared the previous week via PowerPoint. As Dr. Palacios, long-time educator and champion of bilingual education prepares to retire, the parents are electing representatives… Read more.

Food Justice Youth Summit


By Jill Weiler

Our 11th grade FOOD JUSTICE EXPEDITION is an interdisciplinary three-part study (past, present and future) of the impact of food on our community–both locally and globally. The expedition begins with an exploration of our students’ families’ cultural connections to foods; as 99% of our students come from African American and immigrant families, we discuss the significant role of food in dictating cultural identity. Read more.

Teaching for Change Bookstore Memories


On this 25th anniversary of Teaching for Change and 10th anniversary of our bookstore, we are passing on the operations of the bookstore at 14th & V to Busboys and Poets partner Politics and Prose. As we prepare to end our operation of the bookstore at 14th & V, we are collecting testimonials and memories about the store, favorite books, author events, and more. We invite you to read, share, and add your own.

Making Voices of D.C. the Text: Workshop for DCPS Curriculum Team


“We want our texts to provide mirrors and windows for our students,” said Brian Pick, chief of teaching and learning for DCPS, in his introduction. “We want to make sure that they see themselves reflected in the curriculum and that they have texts that allow them to see beyond the 61 square miles of DC.” On March 17, DC Public Schools (DCPS) held a 2-day work session for educators to review current texts and develop a culturally responsive curriculum as part of the Empowering Males of Color Initiative. Read more.

Teaching for Change at NCORE

As part of our 25th anniversary series of events, Teaching for Change will co-host four sessions at the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE). Held in D.C. this year, NCORE 2015 runs from May 26-30, 2015. The conference will open with a special forum called, “Dispatches from the Movement: Perspectives on Leadership, Organizing and Solidarity in the Struggle for Racial Justice.” The opening keynote speaker is hip hop activist and journalist… Read more.



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