Other Group

Zinn Education Project

Website:

www.zinnedproject.org

Type:

Join Project of Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change

Formation:

2008

Directors:

Bill Bigelow and Deborah Menkart

The Zinn Education Project is a joint project of Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change, two left-of-center organizations that seek to promote far-left and anti-American interpretations of history in the K-12 educational system through education modules informed by the writings of radical-left historian Howard Zinn. [1]

Background

The Zinn Education Project was founded in 2008 by Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change to develop K-12 history class materials that supplement the subject matter taught in standard American history classes. [2]

William Holtzman, a former student of Howard Zinn who worked in marketing  for multinational Singapore-based computer hardware developer Creative Technologies, supported Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change in developing the Zinn Education Project. [3] [4]

Donors

In addition to receiving support from Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change, the Zinn Education Project receives funding through contributions made by history professors, history teachers, and activists who support Howard Zinn’s far-left views on American history. [5]

Notable donors to the Zinn Education Project include former MIT professor Noam Chomsky, Economic Policy Institute fellow and author of The Color of Law Richard Roth Stein, College of Charleston history professor and activist George Hopkins, University of Louisville women and gender studies professor Catherine Fosl, Rhode Island College history professor Kathleen E. Pannozzi, director of curriculum and faculty development for San Francisco State University Savita Malik, and the left-of-center litigation organization Legal Action Center attorney Colleen McCormack-Maitland. [6]

Teaching Materials

The teaching materials produced by the Zinn Education Project are made available free of charge. [7] The teaching materials are broken down into 13 categories, spanning from the colonization of America by the Spanish, the colonization of North America, the founding of the United States, the Civil War, Reconstruction, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War to the present era. [8]

In addition to the traditional periods of American history, the Zinn Education Project has produced the following educational modules: 1877-1899 Industrial Revolution, 1961-1974 People’s Movement, and the 1975-2000 Post-Civil Rights Era. [9]

The 1877-1899 Industrial Revolution module teaches American history through far-left and left-of-center lenses, drawing from books such as Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, Johnathan M. Katz’s Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, the Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America’s Empire, and Mary Cronk Farrell’s Fannie Never Flinched: One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights. [10]

 

In addition, the module instructs educators to teach students about Mary Harris Jones, an activist, a supporter of forced unionism, and one of the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), in a highly favorable light. [11]

Campaigns

In addition to standard education courses, the Zinn Education Project produces interactive, role-playing lessons on four topics: “reconstruction,” “climate change,” “Black Lives Matter,” and a module titled “Abolish Columbus Day.” [12]

Reconstruction

The reconstruction module instructs students to role-play as freedmen on Sea Island, Georgia, who are entrusted with land formerly owned by their slaveowner under Union General William T. Sherman’s proposed land distribution policies. [13] The students are given various role-playing options, including what crops to grow, whether to build schools and tax income, and whether to continue selling cotton and rice to white merchants living on the Island or alternatively electing to remove all white individuals from the Island. [14]

Climate Change

The Zinn Education Project claims that education relating to climate change must “confront[] racism, economic inequality, misogyny, militarism, [and] xenophobia[.]” [15]

In one learning module, titled “climate mixer” students roleplay as 22 real-life characters impacted in different ways by climate change who must introduce themselves to one another. [16]

The module includes various characters who oppose non-weather-dependent sources of energy, such as environmentalist Larry Gibson, whom students are taught rightfully opposes the use of “clean coal,” and who criticizes the activities of the real-life Massey Energy company. [17]

Another character introduced is Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who is depicted as a greedy capitalist who is indifferent to climate change and solely focused on enriching himself. [18]

The Zinn Foundation also engages in climate alarmism, introducing a character named Mustafa Abdul Hamid, a Syrian who lives in a Greek refugee camp, who claims his involvement in the 2011 Syrian Civil War was a result of changes in the Assad regime’s water-sharing and extraction policies. [19]

Black Lives Matter

The Zinn Education Project includes numerous interactive modules related to the Black Lives Matter movement. [20] In one module on the history of policing, the lesson claims to teach students about “a century of police violence” against African Americans and that African Americans have been subjected to a “perennial state of violence” throughout American history. [21]

The lesson plan also includes more general Anti-American rhetoric, claiming that there is a long history of “genocidal and oppressive machinery against…Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latinx people, immigrants, and…countless peoples in the path of its war-making across the globe.” [22]

Abolish Columbus Day

The Zinn Education Project advocates for abolishing Columbus Day and encourages schools to replace the holiday with Indigenous Peoples Day. [23]

In a module titled The People v. Christopher Columbus, et al. the lesson plan insists that discussions and lessons relating to Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the Americas cannot begin at the time Columbus first encountered natives, but must begin by depicting how native peoples lived prior to interacting with Spaniards. [24] The lesson plan takes great liberties in depicting native life and characterizes native society as a socialist utopia where natives “feed all the people, and maintained a spirituality that respected most of their main animal and food sources, as well as the natural forces like climate, season, and weather.” [25]

Leadership

Bill Bigelow and Deborah Menkart are the co-directors of the Zinn Education Project. Bigelow is a curriculum editor for Rethinking Schools and Menkart is the executive director of Teaching for Change. [26]

Bigelow has been the author or editor of a number of works published by Rethinking Schools, including A People’s History for the Classroom, The Line Between Us: Teaching About the Border and Mexican Immigration, Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World, and Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice (two volumes). [27]

References

  1. “About” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/about/ ^
  2. “About” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/about/ ^
  3. “About-Project Background” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/about/ ^
  4. “William Holtzman” LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/in/williamholtzman ^
  5. “Donors” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/support/donors/ ^
  6. “Donors” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/support/donors/ ^
  7.  “Explore by Time Period” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/teaching-materials/explore-by-time-period ^
  8. “Explore by Time Period” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/teaching-materials/explore-by-time-period ^
  9. “Explore by Time Period” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/teaching-materials/explore-by-time-period ^
  10. “Period 1877” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/period/industrial/ ^
  11. “Period 1877” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/period/industrial/ ^
  12. “Campaigns” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/about/campaigns/ ^
  13. “40 Acres and a Mule: Role-Playing What Reconstruction Could Have Been” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/materials/what-reconstruction-could-have-been/ ^
  14. “40 Acres and a Mule: Role-Playing What Reconstruction Could Have Been” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/materials/what-reconstruction-could-have-been/ ^
  15. “Teach Climate Justice Campaign” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/campaigns/teach-climate-justice ^
  16. Bigelow, Bill. “Stories from the Climate Crisis: A Mixer” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Climate-Mixer-ZEP-120219.pdf ^
  17. Bigelow, Bill. “Stories from the Climate Crisis: A Mixer” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Climate-Mixer-ZEP-120219.pdf ^
  18. Bigelow, Bill. “Stories from the Climate Crisis: A Mixer” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Climate-Mixer-ZEP-120219.pdf ^
  19. Bigelow, Bill. “Stories from the Climate Crisis: A Mixer” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Climate-Mixer-ZEP-120219.pdf ^
  20. “Teach the History of Policing” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/news/teach-history-of-policing/ ^
  21. Wolfe-Rocca, Ursala. “‘Riots,’ Racism, and the Police: Students Explore a Century of Police Conduct and Racial Violence” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/materials/riots-racism-and-the-police/ ^
  22. Wolfe-Rocca, Ursala. “‘Riots,’ Racism, and the Police: Students Explore a Century of Police Conduct and Racial Violence” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/materials/riots-racism-and-the-police/ ^
  23. “Abolish Columbus Day Campaign” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/campaigns/abolish-columbus-day ^
  24. “The People v. Christopher Columbus, et al.” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/materials/people-vs-columbus/ ^
  25. “The People v. Christopher Columbus, et al.” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/materials/people-vs-columbus/ ^
  26. [1] “Leadership” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/about/staff/ ^
  27. “Leadership” Zinn Education Project. https://www.zinnedproject.org/about/staff/ ^
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