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May 23, 2012

This Way Out: Few Options for Average Students

A friend I used to work with nine years ago recently contacted me in response to my post Amber Alert: Teenage Boy Mentally Kidnapped by Gangs. He wondered if the 20-year-old man in the post who was killed in an apparent gang shooting was the same student he had taught in 2004 when the deceased was ...

May 22, 2012

Let's Bring NATO Back To Chicago

Since NATO is a peacekeeping, treaty-making organization, I submit that it comes back to Chicago for another round of negotiations. With youth violence running rampant in minority, low-income urban communities across America, Chicago is the poster child for a new NATO mission: Not Another Teenage ...

May 09, 2012

Administrators: Don't Hate--Appreciate!*

Did you know that this week is the official Teacher Appreciation Week? If you didn't I'm not surprised. I taught in Chicago Public Schools for four years before I learned that such a "holiday" existed. In my fourth* year of teaching, I remember receiving a certificate from the then-CEO of school...

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...

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 16, 2011

Chicago Reformation: Q&A with CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard (Part 2)

Urban school districts across America are grappling with how to improve their education quality while also cutting programs to fix their massive budget deficits. In Illinois, the failure to win a $400 million Race to the Top grant exacerbated the problem because well-intentioned but expensive refor...

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...

October 26, 2011

A Tale of Two Teacher Evaluations

As one of my opening lessons on science lab safety, I use a scenario of students who create utter mayhem in the lab with glimpses of them also being safe. This anticipatory set is fun to read and students quickly identify things they should never do. By the end of the lesson they have internalized a...

October 05, 2011

Charter School Teacher Dines With Union President

Last night I met Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis at a Teach Plus roundtable discussion and sat right next to her at dinner. Lewis is a fascinating figure, a former high school chemistry teacher whose humorously blunt personality helped catapult her to the union's top spot in 2010. She...

August 31, 2011

Dead Child Walking

Some friends from church and I periodically do a community prayer walk, engaging people on the streets to find out what's going on and how we can pray for them. On the evening of August 26, I approached a group of teenagers and asked them how things were going. That's when I met Monique (not her rea...

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