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September 12, 2012

Honk If You Don't Support A Teacher Strike in Chicago

For the past three days my morning drive to work has become a bit awkward at two stop signs. As I inch closer to the intersections near two different schools, I am beckoned by a throng of teachers in red shirts holding picket signs, chanting, and banging on the metal guard rails that line the sidewa...

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 ...

March 28, 2012

Out of Africa: Why It's Difficult To Recycle Education in Cameroon

I am staying in the port city of Douala, Cameroon, grand central station of the 18th Century, where kidnapped Africans took the dreadful voyage to the Americas to live out their lives as slaves—if they survived the Middle Passage at all. For the first time in my life, I journeyed to the M...

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...

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 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...

November 02, 2011

Race to Inflate: The Evaluation Conundrum for Teachers of Non-tested Subjects

In honor of my last post which chronicled my personal perils under Chicago's teacher evaluation system, I thought it would be interesting to take a deeper look into the reform measures being considered to replace the current evaluation system. Quantifying quality teaching on a large scale is a comp...

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