Sunday, July 27, 2008

Planning to Change the World

I just got a copy of a teacher’s planning book (thanks Tara Mack) that should make Sol Stern and Williamson Evers scream in despair.

Stern, as you may know, is the wing-nut from the Manhattan Institute whose journalistic passion seems to be hunting down social-justice teachers. Evers is an assistant secretary of education at the DOE, plucked out of the Hoover Institute, who previously served in the Paul Bremer regime in Iraq. In fact, he's the guy mainly responsible for striking the words, social-justice, out of the Iraqi Constitution. Wish I could be there to hear their reaction to this book.

From its title, Planning to Change the World: A Plan Book for Social Justice Teachers, you rightly assume this is not your ordinary planner. Rather it has scheduling calendars, replete with social-justice birthdays and historical events; .

One favorite date of mine is the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Democratic National Convention riots. But I wish the editors would have added the world POLICE in front of RIOTS. Remember, the Walker Report determined that it was the police—not us demonstrators—who rioted on those August days in 1968. Lots of thought food here for student discussion and debate.

The planner is also filled with short vignettes about several social-justice teachers and their classrooms—teachers like Bree Picower, a member of NYCoRe, who is strong on teacher networking and breaking out of isolation; and Curtis Acosta, who teachers Raza Studies at a Tucson high school and who has developed two strategies for dealing with high-stakes tests: “out-clever and revolt.”

Teaching for social-justice is one way, and a great way, to tap into kids interests and lived experiences and motivate many to take those interests to the next level. This planner will help.

Planning to Change the World is available here and is a good buy at 14 bucks, plus you get to piss off Stern and Evers. Nice!

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