If you ever thought about starting an education blog, this post is for you! Earlier this month I traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend a blogging seminar hosted by the Bellwether Education Partners. I re-learned so much about writing, and it's my pleasure to share a few of the many takeaways from the seminar with you. Blog on! 1. Headlines are Golden: As a blogger, your currency is in clicks, and your headline is your billboard advertisement. What good is a superbly written, intellectually stimulating post if no one reads it? Make your headlines clear, concise, in the active ...


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 Jackson, who was in my division, was not impressed. "You ain't that smart," he told me, out of the blue. "You're smart in this school full of blacks, but wait until you go to college with all those white kids. Their high schools are way better,...


A Capitol Hill aide reads my blog, and last Thursday we discussed education policy while sipping coffee in a Congressional office building. I spent the next day at the feet of a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and other successful writers, learning how to better my blogging skills. I ended my trip to Washington D.C. having Saturday brunch and taking a tour of the city with my editor at Education Week Teacher. And I took a bath. I took a bath! I took a bath two nights in a row, actually. It was the highlight of my trip. No kids. No ...


Is it hot in here, or is it just me? It seems like the temperature of America—the world—has risen a few degrees. I'm not talking about global warming. I'm referring to that persistent, panicky-but-for-no-specific-reason type of energy that permeates the news media and blogosphere. You especially feel it when you hear or read stories about the economy, politics, and education. It seems that our stress barometer, our perception of peace and prosperity, our sense of stability is shaky, at best. Every glimmer of hope is shrouded by the threat of impending disaster: The troops are out of Iraq ...


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 proposed making every state require students to stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18. That is a common-sense idea and a wise default position, but it is nothing more than life support. The truth is that many students drop out mentally long before ...


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 hero. I left wondering what Dr. King would say about the state of racial affairs in America today. I wondered what he would say about our educational system, in particular. At 83, would an older, wiser Dr. King schedule another March on ...


"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 years urban teaching experience. Through Teach Plus, I have collaborated with a wide array of teachers with different experiences and perspectives on key issues. I had hopes of sharing the successes and failures from working in high-poverty urban schools with education policymakers. I had hopes of studying education research and then ...


It's the most wonderful time of the year: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa. On Christmas we celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ. At Hanukkah we celebrate the miraculous drop of oil that lighted candles for eight days in the Jewish Temple. On Kwanzaa we celebrate the miraculous strength of our African ancestors who passed down virtue in spite of unimaginable hardships. And others simply celebrate the festive winter season. This time of year is unlike any other because despite all the suffering in the world, a large percentage of the world's population has something to celebrate. This sounds like a teachable ...


A Dream Deferred What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore-- And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? I was driving home from work last week, passing through one of most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, and I observed the blight surrounding my minivan. My two daughters were on the back seat, the kindergartener was asleep and the fourth grader was awake but oblivious to ...


An education consultant planted a seed in my mind several years ago about the usefulness of the triple Venn diagram. She showed the school staff one similar to the one on the left and argued that students learn best when all three rings—the curriculum, the state standards, and the teacher's creative pedagogy overlap. The problem, she explained, is that the darkest, shared patch in the center is almost always the smallest, making the overwhelming amount of what we teach void of one or two essential elements that make up quality instruction. As a result, a typical teacher's lesson is either...


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