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Teaching Central America

More than seven million Central Americans reside in the United States today, yet the lack of resources in most schools on Central American heritage make the rich history and literature of the region invisible. Also missing from the curriculum is the direct connection between U.S. foreign policy and Central American immigration to the United States.

Teaching for Change began as the Network of Educators’ Committees on Central America (NECCA), as described further below. While the work expanded in the mid-1990s and the organized was renamed Teaching for Change, Central America has remained a core program area.

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Teaching for Change offers a dedicated website to encourage and support teaching about Central America. We offer lessons, booklists, biographies of noted historical figures, and readings for free use by classroom teachers.

Since 2019, we have host an annual Teach Central America Week.

History

ANDESTourIn the 1980s, as the Network of Educators’ Committees on Central America (NECCA), a coalition of teacher committees formed in 11 major U.S. and Canadian cities.

The committees were comprised of teachers from K-12 in school districts with large numbers of Central American refugees. Learning from students in their classrooms about the painful impact of U.S. foreign policy, teachers were moved to speak out. The committees coordinated tours to and from Central America, raised funds for Central American schools and teacher’ unions, established sister-schools and sister-unions, offered workshops, and developed curricula.

In 1989, the Washington, D.C. committee launched the Books Project to provide an opportunity for the growing Central American student population to share their immigration stories and develop literacy skills. The approach was successful not only in promoting literacy and pride of authorship for all students, it also allowed students the opportunity to learn about each other’s lives and build solidarity.

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The D.C. committee secured federal funding, in partnership with George Washington University, to share the approach with professional development and coaching in D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) and Prince George’s County Public Schools. Modeled on the National Writing Project (NWP), the initiative was called the Books Project. In December of 1989, the D.C. committee formally incorporated as a 501(c)3. This marks the formal founding of Teaching for Change.

As peace agreements were signed in Central America, the focus of our work expanded.