HOWARD ZINN'S LEGACY: Instructing Teachers to Disobey Education Codes

“[Howard Zinn] was a treasure and an inspiration. That he was considered radical says way more about this society than it does about him.” - Bob Herbert

Public school children are innocent victims of a radical “guerrilla warfare” being waged by the late professor Howard Zinn’s Zinn Education Project (ZEP), Rethinking Schools Magazine, and Teaching for Change.

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These anti-establishment educators’ mission includes curriculum-subversion in order to radically transform schools into centers of social justice wherein students are trained to become global citizen change agents.

Perpetuating Zinn’s revolutionary mission, his surviving business partners proclaimed:
Howard Zinn, in honor of the marvelous victory of your life, we will act in defiance of all that is bad around us and attempt to spin the world towards justice.

With the national spotlight on History Channel’s “The People Speak” and its ZEP curriculum -- parents, teachers, school boards and administrators should beware of the celebrity-opiate being dealt to their schoolchildren by way of Zinn-doctrination.

ZEP is the brainchild of the late Boston University professor Howard Zinn and Bill Bigelow, Curriculum Director for Rethinking Schools.

On Jan. 19, 2010, Harper Perennial Publications (HPP) and ZEP presented “Ask Howard: A Conversation with Howard Zinn on Teaching ‘A People’s History of the United States’” on Blog Talk Radio.

Questions from teachers and students across America already familiar with ZEP were solicited and presented to the professor.

HPP Marketing Director Amy Baker and moderator Bigelow put the questions to professor Zinn.

During the broadcast:

  • Professor Zinn explicitly advised teachers: “Don’t obey the rules… you have to play a kind of guerrilla warfare with the establishment in which you try not to be firedYou have to depart from the curriculum… outside the lines that are set for us by the school administration, or the politicians.”

  • Dr. Bigelow confirmed that ZEP’s materials have been smuggled into classrooms throughout the country by teachers who astro-turf Zinn’s “guerrilla warfare with the establishment.”

  • Dr. Bigelow boasted: “Whether or not ZEP materials have been adopted by school districts formally or anything like that, we’re not even going that route. We’re going for a more grassroots approach.”

  • Prof. Zinn mocked as “antiquated thinking” the professionalism of teachers who comply with state Education Codes. He advocated his teachers “win over” peers to either look the other way, or join ZEP ‘guerrilla warfare’ against established, lawful curriculums.


ZEP collaborators provide aid and comfort to teacher-agents-of-change on its websites:

Jennifer Rogar, a middle-school History/Social Science/Guitar teacher in the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) provides an operational example of ZEP-style guerrilla warfare:

Observing Columbus Day 2008, in SCUSD’s School of Engineering and Sciences] Ms. Rogar obtained -- and distributed without authorization to her 8th-grade students -- instructional materials from ZEP’s now deceased patriarch: “’Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress: excerpted from a ‘People’s History of the United States’ by Howard Zinn.”


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Ms. Rogar, a law school graduate, administered Zinn’s lesson plan to her students. She assigned hours of classroom discussion, study, testing and writing assignments that are non-compliant with established California State Content Standards.

Alarmed parents found her materials objectionable and complained to the school principal. The principal investigated the complaint and ordered Ms. Rogar to cease and desist.

Ms. Rogar, has since been reassigned, and continues teaching for change as a Social Science/Guitar instructor in SCUSD’s Capital City School.

Parents are unclear as to what disciplinary action, if any, was filed against Ms. Rogar, or what measures are now being enforced to ensure that current and future ZEP violations do not occur in SCUSD and elsewhere. (Zoe Weil -- wrong that “all education is political” -- please call your office).

The nationwide infiltration ZEP marketing intends and has achieved in public schools is alarming. Parents, students and interested community members must not wait for further violations to occur, or presume that principals and district administrators are ready and willing to enforce established regulations.

Education Codes are democratically established to ensure religious/philosophical/political neutrality in curriculums, to prevent abuses and to punish actual violations thereof.

Concerned citizens should familiarize themselves with Content Standards, state and local school district board policies, Administrative Regulations, or professional educators’ ethical conduct guidelines and/or teachers union collective bargaining agreements’ Articles of Academic Freedom.

These guidelines and curriculums are all mutually agreed upon. But ZEP’s proudly self-proclaimed biased-curriculum is deliberately not.

As with the scrapping of President Obama’s infamous U.S. Department of Education (ED) Lesson Plan: the Zinn Education Project, and any other such sectarian political activist groups’ unauthorized curriculums and propaganda should be exposed and prohibited.

ZEP’s ideological call to arms is, however, a two way street.

American parents, elected representatives and the professional educator employees entrusted with schoolchildren have options: Surrender the classroom and their children to Zinn’s radical ideological warfare, or engage and defeat Zinn’s re-thinking change-agent guerillas.

If you discover teachers using ZEP materials in your school, protest to the school principal. Consider filing written complaints with the district’s superintendent. Send copies (emails are sufficient) to the school board president, vice president, city council members, and state school board president.

Standardized Uniform Complaint forms are required to be easily accessible on either school district websites, or upon request at main offices.

Avoid retaliation by school staff by being collaborative yet firm, but never confrontational. When used appropriately, written complaints can be very powerful agents of change themselves. Feel free to use them.

When possible, find fellow parents who will join in the complaints. Safety in numbers is unfortunately a necessary precaution when challenging the practices of a government bureaucracy.

Request that written parental notification and permission slips be required for all outside advocacy groups’ supplemental curriculums.

Finally, other stories of specific teachers, principals, and district staff using ZEP in schools that readers might wish to submit for publication to Big Hollywood will of course be treated with strictest journalistic confidence.

Contact BH’s ZEP Hotline.

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