Volume 34, No. 4


The summer issue of Rethinking Schools is a special, longer issue that focuses on teaching and learning in the time of the pandemic. It includes articles about what it means to show up for our students, about the rank-and-file organizing that was necessary to close down New York City schools, about turning grief into poetry, and it explores the intersection of coronavirus and federal education policy and the coming budget disaster for public schools — and there’s so much more!

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  • The Fight of Our Lives

    Schools and the Pandemic

    By the editors of Rethinking Schools

    This has been a year like no other. Fear. Illness and death. Trauma for our students, their families, their communities — and for us, as educators. We are becoming new teachers, […]

  • Wash Your Hands

    Navigating Grief and Uncertainty in the Time of the Pandemic

    By Linda Christensen

    I hadn’t ever planned to teach online, but the Saturday before our college campus closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, I decided to cancel our face-to-face class because one of the […]

  • Teaching Voting Rights in the Time of Coronavirus

    What Our Students Should Know About the Struggle for the Ballot — but Won’t Learn from Their Textbooks

    By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

    This year marks the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which promised “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or […]

  • How Google Classroom Erases Trans Students

    By Ty Marshall

    There are so many voices right now grieving what we have lost with the school closure — our relationships with students and co-workers, the laughter and energy that echo down […]

  • Showing Up for Our Students in the Pandemic

    By Moé Yonamine

    “I just want to be done. Just tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it,” Haylee wrote to me in an email. A month after school closed on […]

  • I Hate the Pandemic, but I’m Grateful to Be Rid of Grades

    By Mariela Tyler

    I hate this pandemic. But, I am also humbled by the little bundle of destructive protein that has put our American way of doing things on pause. And kind of like […]

  • My Grades Will Not Be Instruments of War

    By Howard Zinn (1922–2010)

    How we grade students — or whether we grade students — has always been contested terrain. The pandemic has brought new attention to the politics of grading.  In the 1960s, […]

  • Talking to Young Children About COVID-19

    By Cassandra Tondreau

    COVID-19 descended upon Seattle, seeping in like a fog first in small ways, then eventually in signals we couldn’t ignore. Stores were empty, hours at our early childhood center were […]

  • The Last Time

    By Katy Alexander

    I went swimming for the last time last summer in late August. I had a tattoo planned for the next weekend, which would mean a few weeks of no swimming — […]

  • Forced Survival Stitch

    By Chloé Avila

    I remember my grandmother teaching meHow to sew. It never made sense. I never had the hands.  But I always had the handsFor teaching.  I was taught how To thread the perfect lessonTogether. Crafting […]

  • Coronavirus and Our Schools

    Educators Speak Out

    By Heather Chen, Zanovia Clark, Angelina Cruz, Don Dumas, Martha A. Escudero, Sarah Giddings, Holly Hardin, Arathi Jayaram, Julie Jee, Dennis Kosuth, Merrie Najimy, and Tanya Reyes

    We asked a group of teachers and students to write about their experience of school during the pandemic. We left it open-ended, but suggested they write about a particular experience that stood […]

  • The Pandemic Is a Portal

    By Arundhati Roy

    Who can use the term “gone viral” now without shuddering a little? Who can look at anything anymore — a door handle, a cardboard carton, a bag of vegetables — […]

  • From the Race to the Top to the Plunge to the Bottom

    The Pandemic and Federal Education Policy

    By Stan Karp

    Horror movie sequels are notoriously bad. This one may be the worst. In 2009, federal intervention during the last financial crisis gave rise to the Obama administration’s signature education initiative: […]

  • “I Don’t Like China or Chinese People Because They Started This Quarantine”

    The History of Anti-Chinese Racism and Disease in the United States

    By Wayne Au

    On April 20, 2020, blogger LittleGrayThread made a Facebook post of a note her daughter had written. She reported that in a Zoom class meeting, one of her daughter’s 2nd-grade […]

  • Crisis, Change, and Canceling the Teacher Performance Assessment

    By Carolina Valdez, Farima Pour-Khorshid, and Stephanie Cariaga

    As former K–12 teachers who are now teacher educators in California, we share grave concern regarding the expectation for preservice teachers to complete their Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) in order […]

  • Coronavirus, Sick-Outs, and the Fight to Close New York City Schools

    By Jia Lee and Ronnie Almonte

    New York City has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and its public schools, which serve 1.1 million students and employ nearly 135,000 people, officially closed on March 17. […]

  • Teachers and the Struggle for Paid Family Leave

    By Rachel M. Cohen

    Last fall, California’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, signed a sweeping array of progressive legislation into law. Among the many bills he enacted included legislation granting collective bargaining rights to the […]

  • Paid Leave in the Time of a Pandemic

    By Ellen Bravo

    Educators know firsthand what lack of paid family and medical leave means for their students and families — and for themselves. Now, the pandemic has dramatically elevated the need for […]

  • A Rhythm of Gratitude

    By Elizabeth Barbian

    We Are Grateful: OtsaliheligaBy Traci SorellIllustrated by Frané LessacCharlesbridge Publishing, 2018 My preschool-age children collect treasures from the ground that end up on our table. Bits of moss, Douglas fir […]

  • Our picks for books, videos, websites, and other social justice resources 34.4

    Check out these valuable resources, reviewed by Rethinking Schools editors and Teaching for Change colleagues.

  • The Freedom to Harm vs. the Freedom from Harm

    By Bill Bigelow

    The smartest piece I have read during the COVID-19 era is Ibram X. Kendi’s May 4 Atlantic article “We’re Still Living and Dying in the Slaveholders’ Republic.” When armed demonstrators […]