In this new school year, we express our profound appreciation to Faye Colon for her work with Teaching for Change where she was the founding coordinator for the D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice. We also welcome new staff members Rosalie Reyes and Rachel Mehl. Faye Colon joined the Teaching for Change team in late spring of 2017. She and her family relocated to New York in the summer of 2018. In her one year on the Teaching for Change staff, she did an amazing job in establishing, nurturing… Read more.
On our one year anniversary, we share highlights from our accomplishments. In the spring of 2017, Teaching for Change contacted social justice educator networks from around the country to collect ideas about what they did and how they were organized. We then held focus groups to explore those ideas and shape the vision for the DC Area Educators for Social Justice and formed an advisory group. Faye Colon led this inaugural year of establishing, nurturing, and documenting the D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice. Read more.
Many years ago, as the author of Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children, I was invited to serve on an advisory board for Scholastic to help them produce books for young children that accurately and respectfully depicted the many forms of diversity in our country. With the publication of President Donald Trump, Scholastic is not honoring their earlier commitment to diversity. For example, Trump’s campaign promise of “a better future for his supporters” actually meant… Read more.
Earlier this month we published critical reviews of the Scholastic books for early and upper elementary students about the election of President Trump. Both books present Trump’s life and the election in a celebratory tone, as summarized by this poem in the book for first and second grade. More than 800 educators, parents, librarians, and concerned citizens took action by writing to Scholastic, demanding they recall the book and publish an accurate and age-appropriate biography of Donald Trump… Read more.
To encourage the teaching of grassroots organizing during the Civil Rights Movement – lessons that can inform student activism today – we want to publish a new print edition of Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching this year. Timothy Jenkins, a Teaching for Change Board member and SNCC veteran, has offered to match any donations up to $10,000 in honor of fellow SNCC veteran Chuck McDew (1938-2018). Read more.
This blog is being maintained by Kathy Nganga and Sarah Cornelius to document the work and insights of the 2018 summer interns. Read more.
Alison Kysia, project director of Teaching for Change’s “Islamophobia: A people’s history teaching guide,” will be presenting at two upcoming conferences. She will present “Black Muslims in the United States: An Introductory Activity” from 1:45-3:15pm on Saturday, May 5th at the 9th Annual Teacher Action Group (TAG) Education for Liberation Conference in Philadelphia, PA. The conference, titled “Connecting the Dots: Building Solidarity to Transform our City and Schools,” seeks to explore… Read more.
The new children’s book Islandborn by Junot Díaz tells the story of a young girl, Lola, who learns from family and friends about the island where she was born. The island is not named in the book, but readers can deduce that the story is based on the history of the Dominican Republic. “Every kid in Lola’s school was from somewhere else,” the book opens. “Hers was the school of faraway places.” Lola was brought to the United States as a baby, therefore she has no memories from the island… Read more.
Roving Readers, one of our Tellin’ Stories signature activities, creates a space for parents of a variety of cultures to come together and read stories in their children’s classrooms. On March 9, at Thomson Elementary School (DCPS), a group of eight parents read to both of the second-grade classes. The school is in the Chinatown neighborhood of northwest D.C. We read Drum Dream Girl, by Margarita Engle, based on the true story of the first female drummer in Cuba. It was a fitting choice for Women’s History Month… Read more.
The D.C. Area Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools gave a powerful start to Black History Month in classrooms across the Washington, D.C. area. Pre-K — 12th grade teachers in more than 100 schools taught lessons about structural racism, intersectional Black identities, and Black history. D.C. was one of many cities across the country that participated in the national Black Lives Matter Week of Action in our Schools from February 5–10, 2018. The three key demands issued… Read more.
Professor Ibram Kendi led a powerful conversation about the history of racist ideas with nearly 200 D.C. area educators on January 17, 2018. The book talk with Dr. Kendi was organized by D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice, a project of Teaching for Change, and co-sponsored by the DCPS Secondary Literacy Team and the Washington Teachers’ Union. Dr. Kendi is an award-winning scholar of racism and antiracism and a best-selling author. His second book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History… Read more.
A beautiful archival website is now online about the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The site, called the SNCC Digital Gateway, provides a comprehensive, student-friendly archive of the history of SNCC. It was produced by the SNCC Legacy Project, Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, and Duke University Libraries. eaching for Change is working with Duke University and the SNCC Legacy Project to collect stories from experienced teachers about ways to use the SNCC Digital Gateway… Read more.
We are pleased to share highlights from Teaching for Change’s work in 2017. This is just a small window into our accomplishments. We encourage you to read below and follow the links to read about our work. 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.
The Food Justice Youth Summit is an all-day event in which DC youth lead workshops focusing on issues of food justice. This event provides youth with the opportunity to share their research, ideas, and recommendations on food justice issues as they work with other youth and food justice activists to build a citywide movement for sustainable food systems. This year, the fourth annual Food Justice Youth Summit will take place on March 22, 2018 (11am-3pm) at the University of the District of Columbia. Here are ways… Read more.
Teaching for Change is proud to partner with a collaborative team of scholars, veterans, and educators from Duke, the SNCC Legacy Project, and Tougaloo College on a NEH Teacher Summer Institute: Beyond the Master Narrative of the Civil Rights Movement: Grassroots Activism from 1940-1980. Participants (classroom teachers in grades 7-12) will learn the bottom-up history of the Civil Rights Movement and receive resources and strategies to bring it home to their students. Read more.
On December 1, 2017, Teaching for Change and the SNCC Legacy Project offered a workshop for 11th grade language arts and social studies teachers on the central role of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the Civil Rights Movement. The workshop was hosted by the DCPS Division of Secondary Literacy in the Office of Teaching and Learning for teachers from across the city during a professional development day at Eastern Senior High School. Read more.
Last year, educators in Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, Rochester and elsewhere engaged in a Black Lives Matter Week of action that centered around educating their school communities about the 13 guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter movement. The actions and education took place both inside and outside the classroom. This year D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice and hopefully many more D.C. area organizations are organizing a Black Lives Matter Week of Action in our communities. Read more.
Caribbean Connections: Puerto Rico introduces students to the history, geography, identity, government, economy, environment, and culture of Puerto Rico through essays, poetry, fiction, and timelines. See Table of Contents below. The second edition of our book Caribbean Connections: Puerto Rico has been out of print and unavailable since 2006. In light of the current crisis on the island after Hurricane Maria, Teaching for Change is seeking to place the book online for free download… Read more.
For Latinx Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we encourage educators to address topics that are often left out of the textbook. In particular, we encourage educators to explore and teach about Central America. Central America is too-often portrayed as simply a strip of land on a map connecting North and South America. Students are left to imagine that their Central American heritage, or that of their peers, is insignificant. Here are some of the comments we have received from teachers about the impact… Read more.
Approximately 20 teachers (and ASL interpreters) from across the D.C. metro area met at the Teaching for Change office on Saturday, September 9 to share teaching and activism strategies in response to the repeal of DACA. The event was organized by the new network, D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice, and facilitated by Faye Colon. The convening began with participants using a tool to explore their personal connections to DACA to meet each other. Educators then explored curriculum ideas… Read more.
Students from several D.C. area high schools gathered in front of Trump International Hotel on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 to defend DACA. From 9th-12th graders, hundreds stood outside chanting “Let them dream” and “DACA students are here to stay.” The students came from Emerson Preparatory School, McKinley Technology High School, Bell Multicultural High School, Woodrow Wilson High School, Edmund Burke School, and more. Read more.
Scholastic News’ coverage of Hurricane Harvey says that the storm has acted “strangely,” but doesn’t mention even one word about climate change nor the extensive unregulated development that have contributed to the devastating crisis in Houston. Tell Scholastic our children deserve to know the truth about the weather as part of the #StepUpScholastic campaign. Also missing from the story are any references to the impact of immigration status, racism, and poverty on people’s options for safety and support… Read more.
The Tellin’ Stories Race, Equity, and Family Engagement Seminar Series will prepare participants to apply an asset-based lens to family engagement that is grounded in popular education, community organizing, racial equity, and effective practices in family engagement. The series begins in September and will end in May, 2018. DC Public Schools teachers may receive 1 PLU per hour (up to 22 PLUs) for successfully completing the seminar series. Apply online by September 13, 2017. Read more.
“What should I say about Charlottesville?” It’s the burning question on every teacher’s mind as the new school year gets underway. On Twitter, users add lessons and resources to the #CharlottesvilleSyllabus and
#CharlottesvilleCurriculum pages; everything from identity charts to readings on the history of white supremacy to conflict resolution activities. It’s all good stuff. What is needed is not just day-after or week-after lessons, but a chance to reexamine what children learn… Read more.
In June 2017, Teaching for Change presented two workshops at the National Family and Community Engagement Conference in San Francisco, Calif., in front of crowded audiences. Unpacking Race, Class, Privilege, and Power: Making the Case for Race and Equity Training explored the roots of systemic racism and made modern-day connections to how race, class, and equity issues intersect with family engagement. This session was designed to help administrators make… Read more.
In July 2017, fifteen middle and high school English and social studies teachers from across the state of Mississippi participated in a teaching institute at Tougaloo College (in the historic Woodworth Chapel) on the Black Freedom Struggle in Mississippi. Not only did teachers learn hidden history and interactive teaching strategies, they also built relationships among themselves to sustain and inform their teaching about the true history of the Civil Rights Movement. Modeled on the philosophy of the Mississippi… Read more.
When fifth grade Spanish literacy teacher Cesarina Pierre realized that her nearly two decades of teaching Caribbean students in New York City Public Schools would not fully translate to teaching Central American students in Washington D.C., she sought resources from Teaching for Change. Pierre asked Teaching for Change, a longtime partner at the school, to help her understand the unique experiences of Central American families. Read more.
In the spring of 2016, teachers in Salem, Massachusetts met after school to learn about the history and culture of their students from the Dominican Republic. The four part series of professional development workshops was so popular that it was offered again in 2017. Their core text for the workshops was Teaching for Change’s Caribbean Connections: The Dominican Republic. Former Salem principal Jo Sullivan donated 25 copies of the book in 2016, and the Salem Public Schools have ordered… Read more.
For summer reading, Teaching for Change encourages young people to select multicultural and social justice books. See our recommendations for new (2016 and 2017) titles. For many more suggestions, see our full collection of recommended booklists and the We’re the People summer reading list. Read more.
Chicago high school social studies teacher Greg Smith said, “When I used the Resistance 101 lesson, the students were more engaged than usual. Many commented on how they were surprised to have never heard about people who had made such an impact. It began a conversation about how people have power in a way the students didn’t realize.” This is one of dozens of comments we have received from teachers about the impact of using Teaching for Change’s Resistance 101 lesson. Read more.
On May 25, 2017, Teaching for Change hosted a policy convening called “Race, Class, and Family Engagement” to nurture dialogue between frontline pre-K through 8 educators and education policymakers and influencers. Educators from our DCPS partner schools shared their strategies for improving family engagement, and recommendations for disrupting racism and classism toward a goal of equity in schools. The policy convening was sponsored by the Communities for Just… Read more.
In the fall of 2016, twenty D.C. area teachers embarked on a journey to write about their work through a social justice lens. You are invited to join our end of year celebration. You will learn how the teachers deepened their own practice, created a powerful learning community, and wrote articles that will contribute to the all-too-scarce collection of published descriptions of classroom practice by teachers. This interactive celebration will include brief readings from each of the participants’ articles… Read more.
In January, we published a new lesson, “Resistance 101: A Lesson on Social Justice Activists and Strategies” to help introduce a history of resistance to injustice. We want to hear about your use of the lesson. In appreciation for your time, we will send you a free copy of your choice of Teaching for Change titles, Beyond Heroes and Holidays or Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching. Please submit your feedback to let us know the impact of using “Resistance 101” in the classroom. Read more.
Teaching for Change has developed a highly successful approach to family engagement which successfully addresses the limitations of a one-size fits all approach. Tellin’ Stories has been recognized by the Harvard Family Research Project’s National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group as one of the most effective approaches in the country for engaging traditionally marginalized parents (2010), and in the past several years has been written about in… Read more.
Flor Santos* is a regular at the monthly Parent-Principal Chit Chat at her son’s school, Thomson Elementary (DCPS), but this time was especially important. When she stopped by the parent center the previous week, she heard that Principal Carmen Shepherd was going to address parent concerns related to rising anti-immigrant sentiments, ICE raids, and what families should expect from the school (especially during school hours). The Chit Chat, a Tellin’ Stories signature activity, was held on a blustery… Read more.
We are pleased to announce that Teaching for Change has received a two-year grant from the Communities for Just Schools Fund (CJSF), a donor collaborative that supports community-led organizations working to ensure healthy school climates. Teaching for Change and Critical Exposure are the two DC grantees for CJSF’s place-based initiative. We will use our funding to launch a social justice teacher network in the D.C. metro area. Read more.
We are pleased to announce that Ellen Royse, a teacher from our Stories from Our Classrooms social justice writing course, had her article published in the spring 2017 edition of the Rethinking Schools journal. The article, “‘I See Birds Everywhere I Go’: Engaging urban students in the natural world” begins as follows: I grew up in rural Kentucky, where the outdoors was an endless source of entertainment and intrigue. I played in the creek in the summer and wandered through the woods year-round. Read more.
Last week nearly 700 Arkansas teachers and school librarians received copies of books by Howard Zinn—thanks to a right wing state representative. Well, not exactly. But here’s the story. Recently, Republican Kim Hendren introduced legislation that would prohibit teachers in all public schools or state-supported charter schools from including any books in their curriculum by—or even “concerning”—the historian Howard Zinn, author of the classic A People’s History of the United States, who died in 2010. In response, the Zinn Education Project… Read more.
At the invitation of Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), Teaching for Change offered a briefing for Congressional staff on teaching the grassroots history of the Civil Rights Movement, beyond the traditional narrative. It was a Black History Month event, held in the Cannon House Office Building on February 28, 2017. The invitation noted, Julian Bond described the master narrative of the Civil Rights Movement as, “Rosa sat down, Martin stood up, and the white kids came down and saved the day.” This master narrative… Read more.
Yuckity, Yuck. Would you eat our school lunch? Do you wonder how far food travels to get to your plate How can we convert a food desert into a thriving oasis? Tired of youth voices being ignored? These are some of the questions and issues addressed in student-led workshops at the 2017 Food Justice Youth Summit, an annual event hosted by Capital City Public Charter School to share student research, ideas, and recommendations on food justice issues as they work with other youth and food justice activists to build… Read more.
In March, Teaching for Change had the honor of presenting workshops in collaboration with the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and the Anacostia Community Museum to introduce teachers to major exhibits at both museums. The NMAI teacher workshop, “Why Treaties Matter,” began with a tour of the Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations exhibit. Following the tour, teachers participated in Standing with Standing Rock: A Role Play on the Dakota Access Pipeline… Read more.
This month, high school U.S. history teacher Bill Stevens taught his students at the SEED Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. about the issues at stake in the historic struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. To introduce this history, he used the “Standing With Standing Rock” role play from the Zinn Education Project website. During the lesson, students took on the roles of five groups with different positions on the pipeline. They prepared a presentation… Read more.
Teaching for Change partnered with Filmfest DC: The Washington, DC International Film Festival for a sixth year to spread the word about the international film festival and to bring filmmakers for several films into D.C. classrooms in April. Students gain a lot from viewing the documentaries, preparing questions, and discussing the film with the visitors… Read more.
So, this is happening now, at DC’s public schools: Parents threatened with deportation; Parents late to pick up kids because of immigration officials at their door; Immigration officials visiting metro stations during school drop off and pick up; Student attendance dropping as a result of fear. As you may recall, in February Teaching for Change and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs asked the mayor, along with other DC education leaders, to declare our public schools sanctuaries for all; assign personnel to handle concerns… Read more.
On Friday, February 10, 2017, author Zetta Elliott captivated nearly 100 middle school students at D.C.’s LaSalle-Backus Education Campus (DCPS) with her stories about coming of age, the foster care system, friendship, addiction, mystery, and more. Teaching for Change arranged the visit to LaSalle-Backus, a partner school for the Tellin’ Stories parent organizing project. Elliott’s award-winning books feature young Black and brown protagonists whose stories interweave present day urban living with… Read more.
As reported in the Arkansas Times, pending legislation would prohibit any publicly supported schools in Arkansas “from including in its curriculum or course materials any books or other material authored by or concerning Howard Zinn.” This is not the first attempt to ban books by Howard Zinn in public schools. In 2010, Governor Mitch Daniels tried a similar move in Indiana. In 2011, A People’s History of the United States was removed from schools in Tucson, Arizona as part of the ban on Mexican American Studies. Read more.
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) veteran and chairperson of the SNCC Legacy Project Courtland Cox shared with Teaching for Change why we can be hopeful in these political times. Cox said, “A divided America is a good thing.” Listen to this seven minute video clip to hear why. Read more.
Teaching for Change is pleased to have helped the George P. Phenix High School Alumni Association create their website, phenixhighstory.org. Our web designer, Mykella Palmer-McCalla, worked with the alumni association to design and build the site. Phenix High School was founded by the Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) to educate Black students in preparation for college. The new school was intended to be a “teaching laboratory” for college students. The Hampton Institute students were required… Read more.
At the February convening of the Stories from Our Classrooms writing course, teacher alumni Ellen Royse and Amy Rothschild and current participant Shayna Tivona shared how they used their teacher voices on behalf of democracy. “Earlier this month, our friends and family across the country had trouble reaching their Senators to express their views on Betsy DeVos’s nomination for Secretary of Education. Those of us living in D.C. don’t have voting senators, but we do have proximity… Read more.
In the current political climate in which the President is threatening to increase harassment of immigrants and deportations of undocumented immigrants, we must publicly demonstrate our commitment to all our students and families—especially those without legal documentation. Ask DC Public Schools and local education agencies (LEAs/charter schools) operating within the District of Columbia to stand as sanctuary schools… Read more.
Billionaires like the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, are using their wealth to infuse conservative ideology into our national education policy and into our schools. They know that the lessons children learn in school will impact their lives and civic participation. As Carter G. Woodson said in 1933, “There would be no lynching if it did not start in the schoolroom.”We are appalled by the confirmation of DeVos, but we are also fired up by the activism of the countless educators, students, parents, and the public… Read more.
The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2016 (ESSA) gives states the opportunity to reduce the extreme weight on test scores to rank schools, which was the cornerstone of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. ESSA allows D.C. to select more meaningful measures of school success, but the current proposal from D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) sets standardized test scores at 80% of a school’s overall rating, with the remaining 20% primarily on attendance and re-enrollment rates. Read more.
This article is by Gregory J. Landrigan, one of the teachers in the 2015-16 Teaching for Change Stories from Our Classroom course. “Most of my students had questions about logistics. What sort of lunch should we bring? Can we please not wear our uniforms? Will we be back by the end of the day? Then I called on Jonathan, “So when we get there, I mean while we are at the Mosque, are we going to pray?” It was the perfect question. Jonathan understood that prayer transcends… Read more.