Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Data files
Data walls
TweedleDee and 

Data are indicators, signifiers, proxies.  Representations.  What is being represented?  A test score is not a child. A test score is not a child’s knowledge or growth.  A child’s test score is no signifier of a teacher’s caring or guiding of the intellect or openness to curiosity and questions.

Then why are these headlines not entirely good news?


Citing “glitches” in the computerized administration of the test for some children in some grades, in the loss (seriously, the loss!) of scores for students in one entire district, and other “reporting” issues, the Texas Commissioner of Education, Michael Morath, declared that scores on the STAAR test, a product of the Educational Testing System, would not be used this year to determine grade retention or promotion for students in 5th and 8th grades – a waiver from this legislated state requirement.
 The Commissioner promises to “hold the Educational Testing Service accountable.”  Does that mean the failure to fulfill contractual obligations will require ETS to refund our tax dollars?  Does the contract, in fact, have a penalty clause for non-performance?  And if not, does “accountable” mean that everyone in the Texas Education Agency or other state offices who had anything to do with negotiating and authorizing the contract will be fired?  What is “accountable” when children’s education is at stake?

We wish the headline had read “Commissioner Admits STAAR Useless, Apologizes to Teachers and Children.”  We wish the story explained that the Commissioner called a press conference to admit that the “emperor of standardized testing wears no clothes.”  He would go on to say that for more than 20 years the test scores had been indicators of not much (family wealth as an exception), that the school ratings they produced were proxies for a real investment in our children’s education.  

Good news that this year’s scores will not have “high stakes” for 5th and 8th graders.   Bad news that the reasons given are superficial, themselves poor substitutes for admitting it’s time to move beyond “data-driven” schooling and get back to educating all our children.


The Houston Independent School District’s board voted earlier this month not to renew its $680,000 contract with SAS Institute Inc for the EVAAS system of teacher evaluation based in large part on the students’ scores on the state-mandated standardized tests.  Teachers and parents, and many principals have known for years the system is a hoax, its claims completely phony, and its entire logic flawed: there has never been a test of children’s learning designed to measure teacher “performance” nor the “impact” of a teacher on a child’s learning.   It is, in fact, unethical to use a test for a purpose it was not designed, piloted and validated for – thus even using children’s test scores to determine the “value” a teacher “adds” to even one child’s learning, is unethical.   

Here's what SAS says it can do with your kids' data:

Did the HISD board reject the test because the district faces huge budget shortfalls left by the prior superintendent as well as requirements to share tax revenue with poorer districts?  Is the HISD board trying to get out ahead of the lawsuit brought by a group of Houston teachers challenging its validity and citing its harmful effects on many of our best teachers?  Is there another vendor lurking, circling, lobbying with even grander claims for improving learning through their system of measuring teachers?

SAS Institute Inc markets its expertise in “analytics,” tracking and analyzing corporate data, from shipping logistics, to health care data, to casinos and the military, to “education.” (Be sure to click on their "Industries" tab for a sense of how education appears as one among many industries they serve.) Our children aren’t shipping containers and their learning can’t be captured by “metrics” and “analytics.”  

When will they ever learn?

See Audrey Amrein-Beardsley’s analysis of EVAAs, including her study of its use in Houston.
see Diane Ravitch’s comments on this decision by her hometown school board. 

Monday, June 27, 2016


“Using in one tongue the word for a thing in the other makes the attributes of both resound:  if you say Give me fire when they say Give me a light, what is not to be learned about fire, light and the act of giving?  It’s not another way of saying things:  these are new things.” 
Makina, in Signs

How do we learn the new things we need to live with each other in a world of increasingly harsh divisions, of rigidifying claims of “us” and “other,” of rising barriers physical and metaphorical?

I find power – if not always answers – in story.  And for this series on teaching the US border with Mexico as more than a line, as more than a contested territory or symbolic conflict zone, I can recommend no more compelling story than this new novel by Yuri Herrera:  Signs Preceding the End of the World.

Signs is a slim book, almost minimalist. Yet even the most spare sentence is, as one critic said, both “poetic and defamiliarizing.” Makina, a young Mexican woman, journeys north to carry two messages:  one from her mother to her brother who has preceded her in crossing the border and one from a character almost mythically representative of violence and shadows and unanswered questions.

I just discovered this book (thank goodness for Brazos, our neighborhood independent bookstore!) and got lost in the poetry of the words, the perils of unknowns, the insights of this courageous and perceptive young woman.  I’m planning to re-read it this summer just for the beauty of it. And I want to see how I might use it with my students who are preparing to teach in our urban schools, schools where many of the students will know a Makina or who will see something of their family’s story in hers.   

Teach this book in your US history class, your world studies or cultures courses, your literature classes in English or in Spanish (how interesting it would be for students to compare this masterful translation with the original Spanish), or save it for your teacher book group.  As Makina notes how even slight shifts in word choice can say “new things,” Herrera gives us fire, gives us light, shows us new things we could not have known without Signs.

Friday, June 24, 2016


David Cameron put his credibility behind keeping the UK in the European Union.  He lost the vote: he has announced he will resign. 

When will Commissioner Morath resign? Will he be fired? What about the other TEA officials who approved the ETS contract? 

Congratulations to Patrick Michels for another strong piece of reportage on behalf of Texas children and their education.  We've had more than 20 years of standardized-test-based "accountability," and many of us have documented its harmful effects on children, teachers, the quality of instruction, the possibilities for children's learning and the very survival of the public's schools -- with no academic improvement or equity to show for the billions spent on testing.  After reading Patrick Michels' listing of fraud, failures and folly in this year's test fiascos, Texas taxpayers will say, Enough! It's time to "exit" this system!

Michels' next article needs to be a list of the names and faces of everyone involved in this scam, along with the dollar amount ETS has to refund to Texas taxpayers. ETS also needs to compensate local school districts -- with interest -- for their additional costs in staff time and dollars.

Then Texas must scrap the "accountability" system. It cannot be justified. Period.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Into the Beautiful North: Nayeli’s Magnificent Border Story

The Jaguar’s Children, the brilliantly written novel by John Vaillant, tells of the harrowing journey of two young men who, for every different reasons, put their lives in the hands (and sealed up water tanker truck) of ruthless coyotes to make their way from Oaxaca and Mexico DF to “the North.”  Hector’s mother wants him to stay, but his father urges him to go –for reasons hidden in the father’s past and hoped for in the son’s future. César is on the run for a more urgent reason.  Their suspenseful saga calls forth the powers of the ancient symbol of the jaguar, sees strange new claims on their people’s life source: corn, and holds out the promise of a bright new future for smart young men who made it to university.   

Theirs is a tale of men, strong and able and intelligent and educated young men, leaving for El Norte.  Into the Beautiful North shows what remains of life – of family life and community life --in the villages where all the men – all but the very oldest – have left to cross the border in the collapse of their local economy.  Into the Beautiful North, by the poet, novelist and journalist Luis Alberto Urrea, is a laugh-out-loud picaresque novel about one such village, the absence of men, and a young woman who decides to do something about it. 

Nayeli, a 19-year-old former high school soccer star and server at La Mano Caída, “The Fallen Hand” taco stand.  She despairs that her father has gone north to “Los Yunaites,” as have all the eligible young men of her generation. Her village, Tres Camarones (Three Shrimp), is dying and she is dying of boredom from watching the town’s only movie, The Magnificent Seven.

The movie inspires her quixotic quest:  she will go to the North to round up her own “magnificent seven” men to move back to re-build, and re-populate, her village.  And she’ll find and bring home her father, who years ago quit coming back. 

The novel could be paired with Huckleberry Finn in their journey motif (his escape on a river, hers a river crossing), their picaresque and episodic structure, and the merging of social commentary into the adventures and mishaps and unforgettable people they meet at each new place.  Just as Huck Finn sees right through the piety of the “respectable” people, Nayeli and her side-kicks (yes, some colorful friends come along) learn that the most generous people are the family they encounter living on the Tijuana garbage dumps.   The book is full of contemporary cultural references high school students will recognize (Kanye West, Sabado Gigante, internet).  And, yes, political realities:  the Border Patrol and, by inference, NAFTA:  “Twenty pesos! You couldn’t even afford corn tortillas anymore on twenty pesos.  The Americans were buying up all the maize for fuel and none of the rancheros could afford to use it for food.”

Into the Beautiful North gives voice and unforgettable personality to the ones “left behind” in Mexico and, even more important, in delightfully painful and funny and startling clarity, the story holds a mirror up to taken-for-granted luxuries (electricity, elevators, “small cartons with mushrooms piled inside like snowballs and vegetable bins [that] periodically sang ‘Singin’ in the Rain’” when the sprinklers sprayed the produce”).  And it holds a mirror up to the absurdities that a single line of political geography can make in who has and who needs, who leaves and who stays.  The book provides great fun (and no small amount of poignancy) when Nayeli declares, “We didn’t come here to get boyfriends! We’re on a mission! …. We came to save Tres Camarones!”

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


THE POWER OF STORY:  The Jaguar’s Children

We hear too much about “building walls” and “improving border security” and not enough about the walls of privilege and power that make the risks of leaving home the lesser of dangers.   Behind the stats on “illegal aliens” are the alienating conditions of poverty, violence, and powerlessness that seem more the stuff of movies or social science data than of real lives.  That’s where we need stories.

Those of us who live in states that border Mexico hear the stories from our immigrant friends and neighbors who have crossed borders from El Salvador and Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico, to build their lives here in Houston, the most diverse city in the US.   We know the mom who hovered in the bathtub with her babies while insurgents and government goon squads left the street in front of her home in El Salvador strewn with the bodies of her neighbors. We know the auto mechanic who had to flee his country when warring factions began raiding central garages to commandeer trucks, his workplace likely their next target.   A friend now with a leading hotel chain who as a middle schooler served as his family’s translator at his little sister’s parent-teacher conferences and at their negotiations to buy their first house.    In Houston, when we hear “border,” we hear our neighbors and their stories.

But even if you don’t have the advantage of living near the US-Mexico border, you can bring your students into this dynamic space thanks to wonderful authors I’ve been discovering and sharing with everyone I meet for the way their unforgettable characters and the power of their prose to pull us into new understandings of “border.”

One of my latest finds is John Vaillant’s The Jaguar’s Children, a book I’ll probably re-read this summer just for the writing. The first time through I was holding my breath wanting the mystery to be solved, our narrator to be rescued – wanting everything to turn out all right.  A happy ending for Hector was far from assured: he and friend César are sealed up in a water tank truck that is to take them to a warehouse across the border where a metal worker will free them and a dozen others who have paid extra for this vehicle guaranteed to fool la migra.

The perils of heat, cruel and untrustworthy coyotes, and fear of discovery by la migra set the tone for a predictable story of the dangers of border crossing.   But nothing in this story is predictable:  why do Hector and César want so desperately to cross to el norte?  why is the ancient symbol of the jaguar a recurring motif linking Hector to his abuelos, his home lands, his destiny?  and how did GMO’s get into a story about ruthless coyotes and the Arizona dessert?

And what about that cell phone?  How many “bars” does Hector need to be heard?  Your students will immediately relate to the frustration of dropped calls and messages that don’t get through.    “Structure” and “voice” as literary devices become familiar – and credible transports into this suspenseful tale.

Linda  Christensen, teacher and author of the “border” curricula in Rethinking Schools’ The Line Between Us, explains building lessons “that teach literary skills embedded in larger world issues.”    The Jaguar’s Children could be a study in the use of water, and water imagery, as the motif linking expectations for the journey: each person’s litre of water for what is planned as a brief trip,  a capful of water as temptation – a choice between survival or betrayal, the irony of being trapped in a water tanker truck fearing thirst as your death, Hector’s dreams of water and watermelons and water spirits and his abuelo and the corn.

Yes, the corn!  Sacred to the ancient peoples of Oaxaca, tempting to corporate profiteers.  César is not a day laborer hoping for work in the fields al norte.  We learn he is a scientist, a scientist on the run from the federales – there must be a new Willie Nelson song here somewhere.  Your students can compose the corrida!

Get to your nearest library or independent bookstore and grab a copy of The Jaguar’s Children, then email your school’s librarian to order the copies that will take your students into the convergence of “border” forces ancient and new, personal and political, communal and corporate.

See upcoming posts for more titles you and your students will want to read together.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


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NAFTA, The TPP, and the “”Why Do We Have to Learn This?” Question!

It’s hard to think of anything more yawn-inducing for a social studies lesson than having to learn about a treaty.     The textbook formula for “treaty” has a sentence or two about the reason (the war ended, new trade routes were established, territorial disputes ended), the signers (the countries or warring parties, or maybe a president who made it happen, or two infamous enemies), and (if the paragraph is more than a few lines long), what happened afterwards.    The sterile textbook prose gives little indication of the fraught conditions and deeply held conflicts that led to the treaty, and even less hint that this “good” and maybe even “inevitable” treaty led to even greater negative consequences.  It’s signed, it’s done – on to the next “fact.”

Not so with NAFTA. And definitely not so with the TPP.    NAFTA, a treaty to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers between the US, Canada and Mexico, took effect in 1994, with claims of creating more jobs, reducing consumer prices, and dramatically improving the economy throughout Mexico.    Did “free trade” deliver on its promises?   Opponents of the TPP look at jobs in the US, poverty in Mexico, and say “No!”   NAFTA is one reason the TPP is being hotly debated by the current presidential candidates in the US and by environmental, labor and corporate groups in the countries involved.

Why spend some time this summer planning lessons about trade treaties?  Because, according to critics of the TPP, if it goes into effect, it could shift more US jobs to other countries, exempt corporations from a country’s laws protecting the environment and insuring the rights of workers, and put corporations “above the law” – beyond the financial regulations and tax policies of any country not favorable to that corporation’s profits.    A treaty for the 1%.

How to make sense of the proposed TransPacificPartnership  without a Ph.D. in economics, a law degree,  fluency in several Asian languages, and access to the documents produced in great secrecy and not yet released to the publics who will be affected by the treaty’s provisions?  Just because something’s important to know about doesn’t mean it will be easy – or even practical – to try to teach it.

Once again, Rethinking Schools comes to the rescue! The Line Between Us, their exciting collection of curriculum resources on the US-Mexico border, takes NAFTA as the touchstone for a comprehensive study of the ways individual lives on both sides of the border are shaped by a treaty that is anything but a dry fact in a history book.  NAFTA, designed in theory to transcend national borders, has instead been a creator of barriers, a source of new conflicts, and enforcer of new obstacles to economic development and personal mobility.

The resources and activities that enable students to step into NAFTA, its claims and provisions, and into the lives of workers and communities transformed by this trade agreement, are powerful for understanding the “border” from multiple points of view. And these lessons give us a template for helping kids – especially those who’ll be old enough to vote this fall – feel informed enough to ask serious questions about the still-pending TPP.

About the curriculum resources:  The NAFTA section of The Line Between Us includes a summary of NAFTA’s provisions, analyses by the Institute for Policy Studies (an invaluable resource), Bill Moyers’ powerful video Trading Democracy on the ways corporations, not workers, are empowered by NAFTA.   Necessary background. But what students will connect with are the personal stories of Mexican farm laborers, stories that then make an explanation of neo-liberalism by an immigration and refugee rights group worth understanding.  And the statement of “How We See the World,” the voice of Zapatistas in Chiapas on the degradation of work and workers’ conditions under NAFTA , a powerful motivator not only to pay attention to “trade agreements,” but to take all of their claims as questions to be investigated.  Questions like “who will profit from this?” and “who will be harmed?”
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But just reading these compelling sources is not the same as stepping into the world according to NAFTA:  for that, this curriculum provides role play activities in which students can step into the persona of a US worker whose job was taken by his company to low-wage Mexico, a Mexican farm laborer whose pay has decreased when US produce is dumped on international markets, a young maquiladora worker who risks kidnapping and murder to work in a US-owned factory along the border, or a US capitalist who may have wished to keep jobs in his home state but can’t resist the profits NAFTA makes so attractive if he moves his factory across that national border.  Students research their character’s lives before and after the treaty, examine what reasoning might have prompted the treaty’s provisions and promises, and explore first-hand accounts of post-NAFTA life. “Border,” “immigration,” “free trade” become not facts in a textbook or slogans in a campaign but realities in people’s lives.     

What is “free” about “free trade”?  Did NAFTA make economies stronger and lives better for people in three North American countries? Or is it an agreement “designed by and for transnational corporations and investors?”  Can workers move freely across borders? Or are borders “open” only to the movement of capital, of wealth?  

The Line Between Us was published in 2004.  Yet its lessons could not be more timely. The wage scales debated in the role play are those being debated today.  The questions of who has power, who decides, who bears the costs and who profits are not test questions: they are the questions about the TPP that students can learn to analyze – and maybe answer – if they step into the world according to NAFTA.

See my next posts for compelling novels and some non-fiction titles that are fine literature on their own and sure to bring the “border” to life for your students.

Friday, June 17, 2016



A friend recently vacationing in Canada tells of a headline she saw in a local newspaper:  “BUILD A BORDER WALL! MAKE THE U.S. PAY FOR IT!” 

A dig at a US presidential candidate’s racist rants against Mexicans –  against the people of Mexico, Mexican-Americans, against people of “Mexican heritage”?
A plea to end the flow of guns from the US into Canada, a country with strict gun laws and far fewer gun-related deaths than in the US?
A shout of Canadian pride – “we’re Canada, not the 51st US state!”? 

Stepping outside the rhetoric of fear and hate gives us a different viewpoint:  we quite literally see things differently.  Linda  Christensen, a teacher who visited the US-Mexico border at Tijuana/San Diego, came up with a  novel approach for helping her Oregon high school students come to their own understandings of  “the border”:  she had them step into a border community.

Her “Life on the Border” lessons take her students to Chilpancingo, a village they first encounter in a photograph. The picture shows a trash dump and what the students quickly label as “shacks,”  a scene that would seem to confirm her students’ stereotypes of the poverty and disgusting conditions on “the other side.”   Together the class “reads” the picture, cataloging the visual clues:  bottles, cans, dirty water, dead trees.  Clues that lead to questions:  where was the picture taken? When? And by whom? And what is in the river? And the tacit question: is this what life is like in Mexico?

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“My students didn’t stand on the banks of Rio Alamar and smell the acrid odor of a town drowning in toxins.  But they learned how to step into a picture and connect with a community on the other side of the border.”

Once the students can see – and even smell – the scene and want to know more, they are presented a story to read from the Washington Post:  “A Toxic Legacy on the Mexican Border.”  Its message is stark (and well understood even by the struggling readers in the class):  the waste is not from the carelessness of the local residents.  Its source is a toxic dump left behind when Mexico shut down an US-owned  battery recycling company.  Its owner, according to the reporter, escaped prosecution for “gross environmental pollution” by crossing into San Diego, leaving behind up to 8,500 tons of toxic chemicals from the battery parts piled on the site.  Winds and rains pick up the toxins and drop them onto Colonia Chilpancingo, a village of 10,000 workers, continuing the health risks that began when the factory’s furnaces were spewing toxic metals.

Linda Christensen writes that she and her students keep two ideas in mind as they read:  injustice and hope.  Whether reading about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, or now this story of one village on the US-Mexico border, she invites her students to read actively, asking the questions and seeking evidence to explain the injustice they encounter.   They are also instructed look to identify “the hope in this situation.”   The toxic waste in Chilpanciago leads to questions of knowledge (“did anyone know this was happening?”) and power (“would toxins be allowed to poison a rich neighborhood?”), of governance and responsibility (“who pays for the cleanup?”) and legal consequences (“how can the polluter escape prosecution just by crossing a border?”).  The students learn from the Post article and readings from varied points of view, and from their teacher’s visit to the Colonia, that hope is taking the form of activists who are educating citizens about the risks while at the same time organizing to pressure the government and the polluter to clean up the site.  They even marched on the owner’s San Diego office, reminding him by name “You forgot something in Tijuana.”

We can’t shield our students from the hateful words of politicians and social media, but we can, along with Linda Christensen and her students, seek out injustice and identify sources of hope by stepping into the issues, stepping into the stories, stepping up to and across borders.  An exciting time to be teaching if we do it right!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Honoring Families and their Funds of Knowledge

The visit to Houston this spring by a Danish educator coincided with dramatic news of refugees, campaign threats by a US presidential candidate to “build a wall and make Mexico pay for it,” and debates in the Danish parliament to about whether Denmark would confiscate the personal possessions of Syrian (and other) refugees wanting to settle in their country.   I wanted Professor John B.Kresjler of  Aarhus University to see classrooms where teachers do not see children as “the other,” even if those children and their families come from far away.  Especially if they are “not from here.”

So of course our first stop was the Gabriela Mistral pre-K center in southwest Houston where two amazing teachers have created a rich language laboratory where very young children learn English in a nurturing environment where their own language – and their family’s story – are treasured assets to learning.

The Oral and Written Language Lab is a collaboration between Rice University  (Rice “Owls”!) and the Houston Independent School District, a next step in the Classroom Storytelling work of Rice’s School Literacy and Culture Project.

In a district where 62% of the children are Hispanic and a large percentage of those are themselves immigrants or the children or immigrants (from all over the world), the pre-K years are the perfect time to excite children about learning and about the power of words.

The Mistral OWL Lab is in no way “subtractive.”   Instead, classroom teacher Lori Espinoza and her Rice colleague Debra Paz, team up to make the classroom as inviting to parents as it is to the children.   From the first day of school, Lori and Debbie invite parents to write a note to their children telling them their aspirations for them, notes posted with a photo of the child and family and kept all year. A classroom map pinpoints the home country of each family.   The parents are the acknowledged experts on their children and on their family’s hopes for that child. The OWL lab embodies these teachers’ deep knowledge of research on language learning and on children’s development in spirited, well-crafted and enormously fun activities.

I was thrilled to bring Professor Krejsler to meet these amazing teachers, see the children’s enthusiasm for play and books and story.   He already knew of our state’s disastrously inadequate and inequitable funding of schools; he was well-acquainted with Houston’s role in exporting the standardization of schooling beyond its borders in the No Child Left Behind Legislation.   I wanted him to know that every day there are classrooms where borders are being broken down and bridges are being built:  between newcomers and local families, between families and the children’s school experience, between good research and learning as children experience it, between children’s imaginations and the stuff of schooling.

I’m grateful to Lori, Debbie and their principal, Ms. Troutman, for so generously welcoming Professor Kresjler into the OWL lab. I knew they would because that’s the welcome they extend every day to the youngest children and the families that brought them to our community.   We have much to learn from the European (and other) countries who are creating new opportunities from refugees from war zones.   I hope Professor Krejsler is already sharing the story of the OWL lab with his colleagues:  evidence that even with all the hate-filled talk of walls, or maybe in response to such hostility, it is possible to teach in ways that build bridges and open the whole world to our children.

Friday, June 3, 2016


I am a shameless promoter of Rethinking Schools, the organization itself, its publications, and especially its advocacy for social justice as a central component of what we teach, not as an add-on or special project.

That’s what makes The Line Between Us such a valuable resource for making the US border with Mexico not a political slogan of fear and exclusion, but a dynamic feature of our country’s history and a signifier of opportunities for asymmetrical conflicts or cross-national peace.

For teachers spending part of their summer preparing lessons in history, literature, world studies and cultures for their fall courses during this volatile and (in some cases) anti-immigrant election cycle, I urge you to grab a copy of this book.

The Line Between Us does not shy away from controversy.   The volume, authored by social studies educator Bill Bigelow, brings together historical sources, personal narratives, poetry, photographs and policy documents  for “teaching about the Border and Mexican Immigration.”  Unlike textbooks that sanitize the effects of colonization or simplify “history” through a single lens, The Line Between Us gives students ways to listen to, to think about, and to ask smart questions about this contested, emotionally and politically charged area.

All of Rethinking Schools publications – its journals and especially its curriculum publications, are respectful of teachers’ knowledge and of teachers’ role in engaging students in meaningful thought based on multiple credible and intellectually rich sources of information. 

Today’s headlines carry stories of “illegal aliens” crossing the Rio Grande River by night, or hidden in freight trucks coming through border check points, the “invasion” coming up from south of “the border.”  The Line Between Us shows that current  “border” to be  historically constructed, specifically constructed in the 19th century by “invaders” coming not from the south, but from the north and east – Americans under US President Polk using military force, as well as economic pressure, to add a huge section of Mexico (yes, a section of the nation of Mexico) to US territory.   (Imagine if Canada decided it wanted Microsoft and Seattle, so it sent the Mounties to take Washington state!)

I can only imagine how shocked many of our students will be to see the book's maps that show the Mexico of 1830 and the much smaller Mexico of today after the original “border” was violated and moved to its present configuration along the Rio Grande. The accompanying historical analysis explains how thousands of miles of border was shifted, dramatically altering two nations and their futures.  Rethinking our mental borders of territory, of “the other,” of histories as constructed and chosen and resisted, makes The Line Between Us  uniquely valuable for studying the US border with Mexico and for giving us a framework for examining the choices and forces behind other “facts” in our history books and in our politicians’ claims.

My next posts will highlight several of the activities the authors have developed to engage students in seeing the border through the eyes of those who have enacted the policies that govern it and those who live with the consequences of those policies.

If you are one of the hundreds of teachers whose teaching of the US-Mexico border has been informed by The Line Between Us, I hope you’ll share your experiences – and your those of your students – in the Comments section here.