About the Book

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Planning to Change the World is a plan book for teachers who believe their students can create meaningful social change It is the product of a collaboration between the Education for Liberation Network and Rethinking Schools. The information and ideas featured on its pages come from teachers, college students and activists who, like you, struggle daily to put their values into practice. Our plan book series is now ten years old!

This plan book is designed to help teachers translate their vision of a just education into concrete classroom activities. Planning to Change the World is packed with important social justice birthdays and historical events, words of wisdom from visionary leaders, lesson plans, resources, social justice education happenings and more.

It also connects you to a national community of educators who are interested in social justice teaching. In this book we hear from teachers like you who care about their students, respect them and think they can and will change the world. Teachers who believe it is their job to help them learn how to do that. This plan book was created to make that job just a little easier by helping you turn your daily lesson planning into strategy for teaching toward democracy, fairness and peace.

The 10-Year Rule

There are so many events and people that could be featured in a planner like this, we had to find a way to narrow the possibilities. So we established the 10-year rule which generally means that (with a few exceptions) anniversaries/birthdays must fall on a 10-year mark to be included (e.g., the 10th anniversary/birthday, the 20th, 40th, 80th, 120th etc.). That means each calendar has a different set of dates.

 Here's a sample of dates from the 2013-2014 edition:

Aug. 28, 1963                50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The March on Washington was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history with more than 200,000 people gathering in Washington, DC calling for civil and economic rights for African Americans. The event culminated in Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and is credited with influencing the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

Sept. 11, 1973              40th anniversary of US backed coup in Chile. Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile in 1970. As a Socialist, he nationalized most banks and industries. General Augusto Pinochet led the military coup that overthrew his government and unleashed extensive terror against activists and progressives. Pinochet’s dictatorship, supported by American funds, lasted 25 years.

Nov. 27, 1493              520th anniversary of Columbus’ return to La Navidad, scene of the first indigenous uprising against Spanish conquerors. La Navidad marks not only the first European settlement in the New World but also the first major conflict between Indigenous people and Europeans. When Columbus returned from Spain in 1493, he found the Spanish he had left the year before dead and the fort destroyed. In retaliation for the cruelty and violence inflicted on them, the Taínos had killed the Spanish settlers. Columbus reacted with even greater repression. Of the three million Taínos on Hispaniola in 1492, within five decades the whole population was practically extinct.

Dec. 13, 1903              Ella Baker, civil rights activist, born (1903-1986). Baker was an African American civil rights and human rights activist from the 1930s to the 80s. She played a leading role in developing movement strategy and community organizing approaches, believing that leadership should come from the grassroots. She was a founding mentor for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Dec. 21, 1993              20th anniversary of the beginning of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The official US policy on homosexuals serving in the military prohibited any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing or speaking about their sexual orientation or relationships while serving in the US Armed Forces. DADT began in 1993 and lasted until it was repealed in 2011.

Jan. 1 1804                  210th anniversary of Haiti’s independence from France. The Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), in which slaves revolted against the French colony of Saint-Domingue, resulted in the establishment of the independent Republic of Haiti. Through this, Haiti became the first Black country to gain its independence and the second independent state in the Western hemisphere.


Jan. 21, 1884               Roger Nash Baldwin, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), born (1884-1981). Baldwin was the co-founder and director of the ACLU until 1950. In 1918, he was arrested for refusing the draft and spent nine months in jail. Under his leadership, the ACLU focused on cases of civil liberties including the Scopes “Monkey Trial” and the Sacco and Vanzetti murder trial. Baldwin also co-founded the International League for Human Rights and was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1981.

Mar. 5, 1944                 70th anniversary of organized resistance by a group of Japanese draft resisters in a WWII internment camp. The Fair Play Committee (FPC) was organized to oppose the reinstatement of the draft for Nisei men in the Heart Mountain Internment Camp in Wyoming. The FPC was the largest group of resisters, but across all camps, a total of over 300 men refused to be inducted into the army. The majority of them were convicted and sent to prison.

Apr. 8, 1964                 150th anniversary of Gallaudet University being established as the first college for Deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Gallaudet University in Washington, DC is still the only liberal arts college for Deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the world. It has played a major role in the education of Deaf people and the preservation of American Sign Language.

May 17, 1954               60th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. On this date, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that segregation in schools is unconstitutional. This decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which allowed state-sponsored segregation. This landmark ruling was an important catalyst within the Civil Rights Movement and the fight for integration in the US.

May 17, 2003              10th anniversary of Massachusetts becoming the first state to legalize gay marriage. In November 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that denying homosexual couples marriage rights was unconstitutional. In May, 2004 the state began to issue marriage licenses to gay people.

July 15, 1954               60th anniversary of Operation Wetback. Operation Wetback in Texas was an effort by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to remove undocumented immigrants from the southwest. Operation Wetback was criticized for its “police-state” methods, including stopping “Mexican-looking” citizens on the street and asking for identification and deporting undocumented immigrants along with their American-born, US citizen children.

July 18, 2004               10th anniversary of the first Disability Pride Parade. A coalition of disability rights advocates and organizations held the first Disability Pride Parade in Chicago to “change the way people think about and define disability, to break down and end the internalized shame among people with disabilities and to promote the belief in society that disability is a natural and beautiful part of life.” Nearly 2000 people attended.


About Our Organization

Planning to Change the World was originally created as a collaboration between the New York Collective of Radical Educators and the Education for Liberation Network, with the support of Rethinking Schools. Proceeds from this year's sale of the plan book supports the work of the Education for Liberation Network and Rethinking Schools. Questions about the book? Email Thomas Nikundiwe: thomas@edliberation.org.


The Education for Liberation Network (www.edliberation.org) is a national coalition of teachers, community activists, youth, researchers and parents who believe a good education should teach people—particularly low-income youth and youth of color—to understand and challenge the injustices their communities face. The network aims to help improve the practice of Education for Liberation by bringing people together to learn from each other’s experiences. If you would like to join this community of educators, you can sign up for our listserv on www.edliberation.org/join-us.

Looking for social justice teaching materials? Check out the Education for Liberation Network’s online database (www.edliberation.org/resources). Called the EdLib Lab, the database is a collection of hundreds of lesson plans and other resources from teachers, organizations and researchers across the country. The Lab allows you both to search for materials and to post your own.


This year's book is edited by Gretchen Brion-Meisels, Thomas Nikundiwe and Carla Shalaby. Thomas is the Director of the Education for Liberation Network. Gretchen is a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the Prevention Science and Practice program. Carla is a research specialist in teacher education at the University of Michigan.

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