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April 18, 2012

Rich in Poverty: The Hope of 'Poor' Students in America

Sometimes I wake up to the sweet sounds of Cameroonian children singing in my head*. They are singing, "Oh, we thank you for what you've done for us!" Then I ask myself, what did I do for them? They have changed my life! If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you probably know my sto...

April 11, 2012

Famous in African Schools, But 'Now What' in America?

When I went to Cameroon, I was famous. Or at least a really important person. An American teacher who has come to see how educators there can improve their practice. First I did a live radio interview. Then I traveled around to schools, observing classroom instruction, and meeting with teachers and...

March 07, 2012

Diary Of A Mad Black Teacher

Somebody just tried to kill my little sister! Like most of us, she works hard to put food on the table. She has a son and daughter, both still in diapers. She has a mortgage, student loans, and a greedy little dog named Sir. Everyday she pounds the pavement in and around Chicago, trying to make a li...

February 29, 2012

You Can Learn A Lot From A Brick (in Africa)

**This post was updated a few hours after publishing to reflect new information received via email from a missionary in Cameroon. They made all the bricks. The villagers squatted low and scooped up red earth in their hands, packed it into block molds, and left the muddy mix to harden in the hot Afr...

February 15, 2012

The Race at the Top vs. Students Who Are Not

I was at the height of my senior year. Elected vice president of my class and voted "Most Likely to Succeed" for the yearbook. Accepted into every college to which I had applied, and in a close race for the coveted title of Valedictorian. I was on top of the world—unstoppable. But LaMont Jack...

January 25, 2012

The State Of The Union is Bleeding Out

How do we stop the bleeding? The non-stop drip of one teenager dropping out of high school every 26 seconds? What would it take to keep 1.2 million teenagers in school who would otherwise walk out this year and never come back? At last night's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama pr...

January 17, 2012

Wisdom From Dr. King Helps Center My Education Activism

Like many of you, I spent some time on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday reflecting on his life and legacy. I attended a commemoration service with my two little girls, and I listened to a choir sing the old Negro spirituals. I sang along and shed some tears. Like many of you, Dr. King is my h...

January 11, 2012

Our Children Are But Grass, So Let's Stop Fighting!

"When elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers." - an African proverb. I am relatively new to the world of education policy. I entered the arena two years ago through Teach Plus, a non-profit organization that aims to offer leadership opportunities to high quality teachers with at least three y...

November 23, 2011

Chicago Reformation: Q&A with CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard (Part 3)

During my interview with Jean-Claude Brizard, I asked him to explain the source of his aggressive ambition to fix Chicago Public Schools. Reforming a massive, decades-old, broken urban educational system is not a job one man can do alone. And it's not a job without difficult decisions, political pr...

November 08, 2011

Chicago Reformation: Q&A with CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard (Part 1)

I first met CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard in August and then wrote the blog post "Ready or Not, Here We Reform." One of my teacher-friends was so upset that I called Brizard "a very smart leader" that he wouldn't read my blog for a month. Controversy is nothing new to Brizard: From his $250,000 sa...

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