Through firsthand accounts of classroom practices, this new book ties 130 years of progressive education to social justice work. Based on their commitments to the principle of the equal moral worth of all people, progressive teachers have challenged the obstacles of schooling that prevent some people from participating as full partners in social life in and out of the classroom and have constructed classroom and social arrangements that enable all to participate as peers in the decisions that influence their lives. Progressive reading education has been and remains key to these ties, commitments, challenges, and constructions.
The three goals in this book are to show that there are viable and worthy alternatives to the current version of "doing school" to provide evidence of how progressive teachers have accommodated expanding notions of social justice across time, taking up issues of economic distribution of resources during the first half of the 20th century, adding the cultural recognition of the civil rights of more groups during the second half, and now, grappling with political representation of groups and individuals as national boundaries become porous and to build coalitions around social justice work among advocates of differing, but complementary, theories and practices of literacy work. In progressive classrooms from Harlem to Los Angeles and Milwaukee to Fairhope, Alabama, students have used reading in order to make sense of and sense in changing times, working across economic, cultural, and political dimensions of social justice. Over 100 teacher stories invite readers to join the struggle to continue the pursuit of a just democracy in America.