READ: The Best Hope for Teacher Unions Is…Reform →

I find the growth of charter schools in many districts leaves me conflicted. First, regulations around charters vary so widely from state to state, you can’t paint them with a broad brush. Second, it often feels like a zero-sum game, with only a certain number of liferafts available as families desperately jump ship from their struggling neighborhood schools.

But I like this piece by my boss, Peter Cunningham​—he lays out the pragmatic case for where we stand now for charters. They are a part of the urban education puzzle, and in many cases they are a great use of public dollars to provide an education that can actually challenge income inequality and the cycle of poverty. I’m encouraged by districts that are embracing and working with charters while doubling down on improving their traditional schools.

Random Musings

The most successful brands, or at least the ones everyone emulates, successfully use design to produce an emotional coherence that spans content to product to experience. Think Apple or BMW or Chanel. Not everything has to look alike, but it all has to feel alike. Whenever we encounter them we get that familiar brand sensation. That tingling tells you it’s working.
Michael Rock in the NYT Now

I think a lot about the “self-branding” that each if us does when we use social media. Rock goes on to point out the obvious sort of post-modern, dystopic view of our overly-virtual lives—we create these brands as artifice, desperately seeking emotional connection from emoji and emoticons.

But I think there’s a less depressing view: The connections through these social media are an additional and richer layer to our interactions. We still have human contact, but now we have even more ways to sustain those IRL relationships. 

As for the branding, I think part of that is just trying to understand how we are perceived through digital media. It’s a new thing, and it’s still evolving. Haven’t we always been branding ourselves IRL? Now that we’re representing ourselves in digital form, maybe we have more to learn from those “successful brands” who’ve had to do this for much longer through their products. 

Here’s a good definition of what a brand is. 


The great irony is that the same progressives who advocate for equal access to marriage, equal access to a living wage, equal access to health insurance, and equal access to college with financial aid, oppose or fall completely silent when it comes to equal access to quality K-12 schools.
Kristen Forbriger

She’s talking about Philly, but it’s true all over.

The “great irony” of the progressive stance on educational equity.


Be aware of those moments, and never turn one down. If you face a choice — a moment or a chore, a moment or bedtime, a moment or work obligations, a moment or your damn iPhone — always choose the moment. They seem abundant, sometimes too abundant, in those early years. But childhood isn’t linear; it seems to accelerate faster and faster as it progresses, and when it’s over that set of memories will be all too finite.
David Roberts in Vox

Frankly, Roberts’ post, by its own admission, didn’t seem so revelatory when I read it. But it’s percolated over time, and I even noticed it affecting how I act when I’m with my family.

Well, a little. Let’s just say there’s always room for improvement.

It’s not just about being a better dad and husband, it’s also about living life more deeply.


Kids don’t necessarily have the language to talk about what it feels like to have a teacher not understand you and your culture. And you have teachers who are not confident in their own ability to manage a classroom, and who have not done their own work around figuring out what it means to be white and a person of privilege working in a school that serves predominantly low-income kids of color in Brooklyn.
Sharhonda Bossier

Hat-tip to Citizen Stewart at Citizen Ed →

I see a lot about respecting culture in the classroom, but Sharhonda Bossier breaks it down.


WBEZ: Merger of Gold Coast school with Cabrini Green school would mean first integrated neighborhood school in a former public housing area →

School and city politics are never as simple as they seem (I’m still trying to figure out what the hell happened with Dyett), but this just seems like a good idea: an overcrowded affluent public school and a struggling, poorer school, in the same neighborhood, should combine and create a more integrated, equitable learning environment for everyone.

But of course, the actual recorded comments from the public hearing about the proposal is uncannily similar to that chilling scene of scared white privilege bigotry from Nikole Hannah-Jones’s much talked about TAL episode.

I’m not necessarily convinced that simply integrating schools—i.e., take these black kids over here and put them in this white school over here—will necessarily lead to the kind of rich learning experiences that I would wish for all of our kids. But in this case, my understanding is that the schools are in the same neighborhood. So, wouldn’t this simply be a truer representation of the people who live there? It’s like the Platonic ideal of an integrated school.


There are a lot of…school districts plagued by structural hurdles out of their control and doing a miserable job responding to the adversity.
San Antonio-area teacher Matthew Lynde Chesnut, writing for the Rivard Report

Matthew teaches in what he describes, baldly, as an “apartheid district”—“deprived by design.” One can’t help but be inspired by his response to this inequity, though. He goes back to work, to help these kids in the best way he knows how.

The rest of us need to get to work fixing the broken structures that are failing teachers like Matthew and the kids he teaches.

This teacher tells it like it is.