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Introducing Your Special Guest Stars

I'm about to take a few weeks hiatus. I'll be departing the pulse-quickening rhythms of D.C. (just kidding, just kidding) for more tranquil, reflective environs. Anyway, the good news for you is that, while I'm gone, I'm going to hand over the RHSU keys to a few special guests. This means you get to trade my jaded prose for a chance to spend a little time with three of the most interesting education thinkers around.

First up, next week you'll have the chance to check out the musings of economist extraordinaire Dan Goldhaber. Dan is the author of influential work on the National Board, teacher licensure, school accountability, teacher effectiveness, value-added methods, and much else. He's the director of the Center for Education Data & Research (CEDR), a professor at the University of Washington, an affiliated scholar at the Urban Institute, and an editor of Education Finance and Policy. On top of it all, Dan's a guy with a feel for practical challenges who previously served as an elected member of the Alexandria City School Board. (He also has a little-known but savant-like ability to identify music from the 80s, with a specialty for British synth pop groups like New Order, Depeche Mode, and Tears for Fears. He's still looking for a way to market this talent, though the odds are NOT looking good.)

Next up, the week of January 10th, Roxanna Elden will take the wheel. Roxanna is a veteran high school teacher (currently teaching in Miami, Florida) and the author of See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers. The book is a funny, engaging, practical guide featuring a slew of stories and tips from teachers around the country. And, best of all, it features the kind of pander-free straight talk that warms even my icy tundra of a heart. If you want a taste of her polished stylings, Roxanna recently penned a "School Life" column for Education Next that had the editors (including me) eager for more. A National Board Certified Teacher, Roxanna does presentations for teachers with the aim of "keeping the potentially great teachers of the future in the classroom long enough to become great." I think you'll find her to bring a savvy, sassy, and empathetic teacher's voice to the callous venue that is usually RHSU.

Finally, the week of January 17th, it'll be Meira Levinson's turn. Meira's a political theorist who spent eight years teaching middle school in Atlanta and Boston and is now at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where her courses address civic identity and education; urban education; and how to teach history, political science, and social studies. She's penned the Oxford University book The Demands of Liberal Education and is a genuinely charming and challenging thinker. Here's how Meira opened when students requested that she speak at Harvard's convocation last spring: "Thank you so much for inviting me to speak to you today...I had frankly never thought before about what I would say in a speech to graduates, just as I never planned my wedding as a young girl. This may explain why, after agreeing to write our own vows, my husband and I realized on our wedding day we had written nothing. We shrugged, and simply stuck to the script our rabbi thrust in our hands."

Yep, they're all witty, thoughtful, and actually expert in what they do. Indeed, I fear that by the time they're done, I'll seem quite superfluous. But so it goes...

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