Rethinking Schools




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2019):

Revenue: $1,150,339
Expenses: $965,135
Assets: $482,903


Left-of-center publisher


Stan Karp

Managing Editor:

Ari Bloomekatz

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

Rethinking Schools is a left-of-center publisher of educational material widely used in K-12 public and private schools in the United States. The organization was founded as a quarterly magazine in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1986 by activists who taught in the local public school system.

Rethinking Schools states that it is among the largest publishers of “social justice” educational materials in the United States and that its quarterly magazine has subscribers in all 50 states and ten Canadian provinces. The group credits itself as a major driver of promoting the Black Lives Matter movement in K-12 schools and assisted in the launch of a national “Teach Climate Justice Campaign.” The group is also one of two parent organizations, along with Teaching for Change, of the Zinn Education Project, an organization committed to promoting the writings and ideology of the late far-left academic and alleged Communist Party USA member Howard Zinn. 1 2


Rethinking Schools was formed in 1986 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to oppose education reform. Milwaukee Teachers Education Association union organizer Bob Peterson was among 12 teachers who began distributing the group’s quarterly magazine. The organizers quickly turned to promoting new left-of-center books on schools’ curriculum reading lists. The group began publishing teacher guides promoting teaching through a left-of-center social justice lens, including guides titled “Rethinking Columbus,” “Rethinking Our Classrooms,” and “Rethinking Sexism, Gender and Sexuality.” 3


Since its early publications, Rethinking Schools has published dozens of additional teachers’ guides including “Teaching for Black Lives,” “Teaching Poetry for Social Justice,” and “Transforming Teachers Unions.” 4

Rethinking Schools has also promoted teacher activism outside of its distribution of publications and has supported groups including the National Coalition of Education Activists, Teachers 4 Social Justice, and the Teacher Activist Group. The group also opposes school choice and charter schools and has consistently published content supporting anti-school choice activism. 5

In 2016, Rethinking Schools editors in Seattle promoted the adoption of the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, which later became a national campaign with the support of Rethinking Schools. The group also launched the Teach for Climate Justice Campaign to promote left-of-center climate policy in schools. 6

Zinn Education Project

In 2008, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change partnered with socialist academic Howard Zinn to form the Zinn Education Project. Zinn, who died in 2010, was most notable for his book A People’s History of the United States, a socialist critique of the history of the United States that Zinn stated was written with the intent of promoting the spread of democratic socialism in the United States. 7 In a 2012 poll of readers of the History News Network, the book finished second as the least credible history book in print. 8 9

The Zinn Education project seeks to promote the works of Howard Zinn in schools and publishes other “People’s History” books inspired by Zinn’s work. 10


  1. Greenberg, David. “Agit-Prof: Howard Zinn’s influential mutilations of American history.” The New Republic. March 19, 2013. Accessed March 28, 2022.
  2. “Our History.” Rethinking Schools. Accessed March 28, 2022.
  3. Karp, Stan. “Rethinking Schools: 30 Years of Teacher Activism.” NJCU. Accessed March 28, 2022.
  4. “Our History.” Rethinking Schools. Accessed March 28, 2022.
  5. “Our History.” Rethinking Schools. Accessed March 28, 2022.
  6. “Our History.” Rethinking Schools. Accessed March 28, 2022.
  7. The Conscience of The Past.” Flagpole. February 18, 1998. Accessed March 28, 2022.
  8. Beneke, Chris; and Randall Stephens. “Lies the Debunkers Told Me: How Bad History Books Win Us Over.” The Atlantic. July 24, 2012. Accessed March 28, 2022.
  9. “Our History.” Rethinking Schools. Accessed March 28, 2022.
  10. “About.” Zinn Education Project. Accessed March 28, 2022.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 1991

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2019 Jun Form 990 $1,150,339 $965,135 $482,903 $108,451 Y $344,383 $782,184 $0 $51,935 PDF
    2018 Jun Form 990 $824,520 $817,568 $265,024 $76,326 Y $344,395 $468,056 $0 $50,851 PDF
    2017 Jun Form 990 $818,254 $760,970 $276,656 $94,910 Y $321,305 $471,071 $0 $48,849 PDF
    2016 Jun Form 990 $698,100 $734,079 $219,030 $94,568 Y $190,994 $472,755 $17 $39,385
    2015 Jun Form 990 $661,394 $698,424 $232,311 $71,870 Y $184,058 $462,364 $23 $53,953 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $682,168 $641,304 $264,947 $67,476 Y $271,980 $392,238 $56 $45,406 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $650,167 $689,869 $199,297 $42,690 Y $179,078 $454,944 $71 $44,878 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $707,000 $696,788 $248,791 $52,482 Y $243,426 $446,980 $224 $51,849 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $624,634 $774,345 $247,158 $61,061 Y $101,731 $497,977 $866 $49,852 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Rethinking Schools

    MILWAUKEE, WI 53214-5647