The Zinn Education Project is in it’s fourth year of nurturing communities of anti-racist educators by sponsoring 100+ Teaching for Black Lives study groups across the United States.

Across the country, right-wing legislatures have passed laws outlawing honest teaching about race and inequality. Books have been banned. Teachers fired. But despite this repression, educators everywhere continue to find ways to help their students think critically about the history of this country — and how they can play a role in making the world more just.

The Zinn Education Project (ZEP) is committed to help nurture this work. Since 2020, ZEP has hosted hundreds of Teaching for Black Lives study groups. Study groups receive a copy of Teaching for Black Lives and a Rethinking Schools magazine subscription for each participant, a year-long menu of workshops and seminars to choose from, and access to a network of social justice teachers across the United States.

This year’s study groups represent 35 states, including Arkansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. We also have a study group in Puerto Rico for the first time. Additionally, more than 50 alumni members continue to participate in a study group, building on work from past years. A majority of participants are teachers. Several groups include administrators, librarians, counselors, and support staff.

Meet just a few of the 2023–2024 study groups below.

Nashville, Tennessee

Six Nashville teacher educators from Nashville Teacher Residency will meet monthly in-person. We are hoping to use this book study with our instructors so that they can revise their curriculum with the central frameworks, research, theory, and pedagogical practices from Teaching for Black Lives so that we are 1. reflective on how we teach adult Black learners to pursue their own learning and liberation and 2. effectively instruct future educators to teach their content areas by prioritizing, uplifting, and focusing on the lives of their Black students.

Galesburg, Michigan

Eight secondary educators from Galesburg-Augusta Community School District will meet bi-monthly as a discussion and workgroup. Our team is striving to make our school way more inclusive, but not performatively. We know that accurate information in our curriculum as well as genuinely uplifting the voices of historically disenfranchised people and also our students is an incredibly powerful way to do so. This Teaching for Black Lives study group is an amazing starting point and solid foundation to build upon as a school.

Roseville, Minnesota

Eleven educators from Fairview Alternative High School will meet weekly in-person. We will embed this Teaching for Black Lives study group as part of our professional development as we work to expand our course offerings that center Black joy and achievement as well as build connections with community outreach and service groups. We are hopeful that it will provide us with more ideas and opportunities for growth — both personally and professionally — as we seek to expand our support for our students and families.

Raleigh, North Carolina

Twenty-two educators from Wake County Public School System (K–12) will meet bi-monthly. We want to build on what we have already started by continuing to create safe spaces, teach other students and staff how to be allies and co-conspirators, continue to affirm our Black and Brown students, continue to analyze our response to discipline in an effort to close the disproportionate gaps as it relates to suspensions and focus on more restorative practices.

Denver, Colorado

Fifteen teachers from Denver Center for International Studies (6–12) will meet monthly to center Black joy in the classroom. As social studies teachers, we are often burdened with a series of overwhelming narratives of oppression, leading well-meaning students to view the Black experience as a series of devastating events. While those are important stories to tell, one only has to look around to see the joy, celebration, and positivity in Black lives that can get forgotten in a school setting.

Athens, Georgia

The Chase Street Elementary School (preK–5) study group consists of teachers and staff, including general and special education, early intervention, an instructional coach, school library media specialist, and school social worker. We are energized by the thought of using Teaching for Black Lives as a framework for examining and reimagining systems and structures in our school, engaging in authentic (albeit potentially challenging) conversations with colleagues about the assumptions embedded in those systems, and translating our study into a catalyst for meaningful positive change in our school culture, climate, and community.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Eight teacher educators from Interamerican University of Puerto Rico meet every two weeks to develop professional development workshops for faculty, students, and staff. The Puerto Rican(s) Matters group aspires to disseminate knowledge in teacher education preparation courses and internships. We are looking forward to evolve as human beings, to understand and acknowledge our biases in order to work toward inclusion and equity. We are hungry for justice, but justice comes from knowledge and acceptance. Ultimately, we desire to share the knowledge with future generations of teachers and with the community at large.

Richmond, Virgina

Teachers, counselors, district staff, teacher union leaders, and other preK–12 educators from all over the state of Virginia will meet monthly, virtually. Our goal is to transform how Black students experience public education. We want them to feel included and connected to the curriculum and educators in Virginia.

Olympia, Washington

Sixteen teachers from elementary schools (K–5) in the Olympia School District will meet monthly via Zoom. We will plan multidisciplinary units using the Culturally Responsive Education framework developed by Dr. Adeyemi Stembridge. In addition, we will try new lessons, facilitate restorative circles, facilitate affinity groups for students, and facilitate difficult discussions with colleagues or with our students. Our group will be a space to grow and process.

Rensselaer, New York

Twelve teachers from Rensselaer City School District (preK–12) will meet monthly, in-person, after school. Several teachers have expressed their interest in learning more about the role that race can play in a student’s experience in school. They want to do better. I look forward to seeing educators in our building acknowledge and address the practices in our building that harm our students.

Spokane, Washington

Twenty teachers, counselors, community leaders, and social justice advocates and allies from Spokane Public Schools (K–12) meet monthly to work toward our goal — to transform our schools into sites of resistance, justice, joy and liberation. We hope to build solidarity through connections with others authentically committed to this goal. We will try new lessons, teach new authors, celebrate historical and influential figures, implement new frameworks in our approach to teaching, and actively engage in equity work at the district and city level.

Kendra Egly, T4BL Study Group Co-coordinator

Kenosha, Wisconsin

Nine teacher educators from Carthage College will meet monthly, virtually. Higher education has a history of opportunity (and related outcome) gaps for our students of color, but in particular Black students. As educators, we want to rectify that through changes to our approach to education and pedagogy, and pushing our colleagues toward a more liberatory and anti-racist approach. As educators of future teachers, we want to ensure we are preparing anti-racist, anti-biased, abolitionist teachers, wherever they plan to teach.

Alumni Coordinators Remain Determined

Ten study groups will continue to lead a Teaching for Black Lives study group in 2023–2024. Listen to two alumni study group coordinators share their experiences in the video clips below and read their goals for this year.


Ina Pannell-Saint Surin

Brooklyn, New York

Lindsay Paiva

Providence, Rhode Island

Our plan is to go deeper into writing a policy report to the New York State Education Department about the injustices and failures we collectively experience from the education system. We want to propose a reimagining of what effective, joy-filled education can be for all when we uplift anti-racist and anti-bias practices. We are in the process of including youth, family, teacher and community partner voices in our writing and to provide research to support our work. — Ina Pannell-Saint Surin

Our goals for the 2023–2024 school year are to continue to expand the work that we started with the Office of Equity and Belonging at Providence Public Schools. Our advocacy worked! The district agreed to pay us and give us professional learning units for our participation in the Teaching for Black Lives study group monthly meetings, and we secured funding to run and pay teachers to attend three two-hour PDs throughout the school year around the Black Lives Matter Year of Purpose! We want to offer concrete solutions to teachers to find ways to integrate this work into their practice despite the challenges. — Lindsay Paiva

Hopes and Goals

Here are some more hopes and goals expressed by study group coordinators.

We will continue to teach truth, with inclusivity in mind, from a place of love no matter what, because we know what will move us forward. We are excited about organizing teachers and creating a private space for them to be fully honest and human in the midst of these dehumanizing and difficult times. We have a deep feeling this will yield great resistance and social change. These are the times where courage and integrity make a difference. — Lorena Germán, former classroom teacher and co-founder of #DisruptTexts, Tampa, Florida
This is more about survival than it is about politics. We must equip ourselves to speak truth to power in an intelligent and articulate manner. I believe that there is a sizable silent contingent that will help us fight if we equip leaders. We want to be not only equipped to counter the lies, but offer alternative, positive solutions for false and often over exaggerated problems. — Teacher in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
This work is challenging and working in a school with marginalized communities that are underfunded, underrepresented, and oppressed is exhausting. This Teaching for Black Lives book study will keep us going — seeing the importance of our work, and engaging more deeply with our community to maintain our resilience and hope for our students’ futures. — Former teacher and Admin intern in Burien, Washington
Beyond the dynamics of our own school community, the Arkansas state legislature is becoming increasingly hostile to conversations in schools about justice. While we continue to teach honestly to best serve our students, we also know that we must actively pursue opportunities to cultivate our response to these threats with knowledge, compassion, and an unwavering commitment to justice. — History teacher in Arkansas
I’m excited to facilitate dialogue between current K–12 educators in our town and future educators, both of whom have a lot to teach and learn from each other. These kinds of discussions are so important in a place like Mississippi. I hope to learn a lot about anti-racist education strategies that will make me a better librarian to our diverse student body. — Librarian in Starkville, Mississippi
A Teaching for Black Lives study group dedicated to identify and address structural racism is necessary to begin to move the school system forward. Myself and other leaders in the school are excited about engaging a group of educators in learning that leads to actionable changes to improve the educational experience of Black students. There has been some learning on the existence of structural racism but as a team we need this type of learning structure to move past acknowledgement into action. — School psychologist in Everett, Washington