Resources 21.1

By Bill Bigelow and Deborah Menkart

Curriculum Resources

*Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality and Insecurity (Revised and Updated)
By Chuck Collins and Felice Yeskel with United for a Fair Economy and Class Action
(The New Press, 2005)
254 pp. $18.95

Filled with charts, graphs, cartoons, and accessible readings, this is a valuable supplementary text for high school government, economics or sociology classes. This book will help students think more critically about phrases like “our economy” and “U.S. interests.” Economic Apartheid in America demonstrates in numerous ways how our country is growing more unequal.

*Teaching About Asian Pacific Americans: Effective Activities, Strategies, and Assignments for Classrooms and Communities
Edited by Edith Wen-Chu Chen and Glenn Omatsu
(Rowman and Littlefield, 2006)
316 pp. $40

This collection of imaginative, participatory classroom lesson plans and background information provides an overview of the hidden history and contemporary issues facing Asian-Pacific Americans and Pacific Islanders. It fills a void in textbooks and traditional curricula, which generally ignore the diversity and depth of the Asian-American experience.

*Black Ants and Buddhists: Thinking Critically and Teaching Differently in the Primary Grades
By Mary Cowhey
(Stenhouse, 2006)
244 pp. $18

In this book, longtime first- and second-grade teacher (and Rethinking Schools contributor) Mary Cowhey shares stories about her efforts to develop a pedagogy to promote compassion, critical literacy, family-school connections, concern about history, respect for community, and activism. Sonia Nieto writes in the foreword, “It is a book you will find hard to put down.”

*A Little Piece of Ground
By Elizabeth Laird
(Haymarket Books, 2006)
210 pp. $10

In this novel, readers step into the daily reality of occupied Palestine through the life of 12-year-old Karim and his family. The story revolves around the “little piece of ground” that Karim and his friends clear out to use as a soccer field. The author skillfully portrays issues of family life, education, politics, and class in Palestine and presents differing views on how to challenge the occupation. Popular with middle and high school students in Britain and Canada, this book has just been released in the United States.

*10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military
Edited by Elizabeth
(New Press, 2006)
176 pp. $15

You could save a life with this pocket-sized book. Each chapter of the book shines light on the information young people won’t hear from the recruiters who prowl the halls of high schools across the country. It offers detailed stories, solid evidence, and statistics.

Picture Books

*First Grade Takes a Test
By Miriam Cohen
Illustrated by Ronald Himler
(Star Bright Books, 1980, new edition 2006)
unpaginated. $15.95

This delightful and profound picture book shows what happens when one 1st-grade class takes a standardized multiple choice test: Students’ imaginations are stifled, their personal experiences are ignored, students compare themselves to one another, new tensions emerge, and hierarchies begin to develop. Ultimately, students reclaim their lost community. “‘It’s good to be together again,’ said the teacher. ‘We don’t need a test to tell us that!'” This is a book that could be used at all levels — with early elementary students as well as in teacher inservices.

*When the Horses Ride By: Children in the Times of War
Poems by Eloise Greenfield Illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist
(Lee & Low Books, 2006)
40 pp. $17.95

This beautiful book’s poetry and collages paint a dramatic picture of the horrors of wars throughout the centuries and of how children maintain hope in the midst of the violence. Billed by the publishers as a book about how children “cope” with war, its more valuable role is as a prompt to engage young children in a discussion about this unspeakable reality and why we should work for peace. Ages 5 to adult.


*The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
Directed by Faith Morgan
(The Community Solution, 2006)
53 minutes. $20

While the United States continues to consume fossil fuels as if they grew on trees, Cuba has grappled with the reality that we will all face in the not-so-distant future. This film documents how Cuba adjusted to the challenges of feeding its population in a low-energy society. It’s a resource that would be especially useful in global studies, biology, earth sciences, or health classes.

Sir! No, Sir!
Directed by David Zeiger
(Displaced Films, 2006)
84 minutes. $19.95

For years, history teachers who wanted to expose students to the vitality, determination, and courage of the anti-Vietnam War movement were hard-pressed. The War at Home described events in Madison, Wisconsin; Berkeley in the Sixties looked at a broad array of activism in the Bay Area; Hearts and Minds offered bits of anti-war activities in its provocative depiction of the war; and some teachers used Oliver Stone’s film version of the Ron Kovics autobiography, Born on the Fourth of July. However, the new DVD Sir! No, Sir!, is the most effective resource in showing the leadership role that defiant soldiers and veterans played in the anti-war movement. This is a remarkable film that we highly recommend. Even though its focus is soldiers who resisted the war and not the entire anti-war movement, it captures the ethos of the movement. Sir! No Sir! is especially timely as increasing numbers of U.S. soldiers criticize and resist the war in Iraq.


Sunday Teacher Motivator
Drop-in, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Teachers Unite Institute for Labor and the Community
535 East 12th Street
(between Avenues A and B)
New York City

Sunday can be an isolating day of paper grading and lesson planning for many teachers. In New York City, Teachers Unite, an organization set up to help public school teachers work for social justice, offers an alternative. Every Sunday, they provide a place for teachers to find community and support as they look ahead to the new week. Free wireless, free bagels, and a copy machine for small jobs. What a great idea. Rethinking Schools has contributed a collection of our books and back issues to the effort. See their website,, for details.

All resources marked with an asterisk are available from Teaching for Change,