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The Rhetoric of Resegregation

The issue of school segregation – particularly, the trend toward re-segregation – is once again in the news in Boston, with a Boston Globe analysis finding that 60 percent of schools were “intensely segregated” (defined as at least 90 percent students of color). This was up from 42 percent of schools two decades ago....

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Wanted: An MI Theory for School Quality

For 35 years, Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (MI Theory) has reassured us that people are more than the sum of any intelligence test. MI Theory has found special resonance among educators, who every day see tremendous variation in what students do well and where they struggle.

In addition to helping us understand individuals, MI Theory may also be instructive for how we understand schools. After all, schools...

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Race-Conscious Questions and The Story of Us

Recently, I was reminded just how important it is that we live our values out loud, especially when it comes to what we decide to say (or not say) about race.

On the mornings when I take my kids to school on the train, I’ve taken to telling them stories about when I was growing up. My four-year-old has really come to relish these stories and asks for them. “Tell a story about when you and Uncle John were growing up,” she says from her perch on the back of the stroller.

Telling “my story” to my kids has also become more than just a way to fill time and mark our walk...

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The Right Questions for the Right School

It is school preview season. Among fellow parents with kindergarten-aged children, the information overload has prompted no small amount of anxiety. Online parenting forums are overflowing with questions, second guesses, and uncertainty. This flurry of emotion is understandable. After all, choosing a school is not a trivial decision. In a real sense, choosing a school is also choosing the place and the people who will play a critical role in shaping the adults our children become. I get the anxiety -- I even share it sometimes -- but I have decided that I am going to do my best to...

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Seeing Good: My Mea Culpa to the Mason School

Recently, I attended a community meeting where I was one voice in a diverse chorus of stakeholders tasked with closing schools I knew nothing about.

Of course, this was not the task-as-presented, but it became the task-as-enacted. And ever since walking out the door, I have been asking myself how it happened and whether it is possible to responsibly balance the virtues and risks of a broad-based consensus-building process. I have been asking these questions in part because I do not want to have to explain to the teachers, students, and families at the...

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Reading Racism: Or, How I’m Learning to Wrestle with "Little House on the Prairie"

Somewhat clumsily, I’m learning how to read Little House on the Prairie to my three-year-old.

 

Recently, Mia rediscovered the mini-library of “Little House” books – given as a gift to her and her sister from old family friends – on a bookshelf in her room. She was pretty enamored of them when she first stumbled on the books a year or so ago. Back then, we even managed read all of Little House in the Big Woods and about half of Little House on the...

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Challenging the Newspeak of School Quality Measurement

As an impressionable teenager, I read George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 with a sense of fascination and fear. In particular, I was captivated by the idea that the relative diversity of our language both enabled and constrained our ability to express complex ideas. To take one example: if there was not a word for revolution, the people could not revolt. Whoever controlled the language controlled the people.

The novel is experiencing a resurgence of popularity in these...

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Schools Open, Schools Close: Charter Schools and the Ties That Bind

Ask someone in education about charter schools – even casually – and you are liable to be overwhelmed by a torrent of either enthusiasm or disdain. In an election year rife with proclamations about how divided we are as a nation, debates about charter schools prove that the landscape of educational policy is no exception.

Amid all of the shouting in Massachusetts’ current charter school debate – the one about...

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Professional Development (and Teacher Agency) As We Know It

Professional development (PD) in education has an image problem. Ballyhooed and derided in seemingly equal measures, it is celebrated for its potential to improve teaching and learning even as it is dismissed as a waste of time or money or both. The vociferousness and durability of these seemingly opposing sentiments give PD an air of incoherence and the impression that its boosters and detractors must not be talking about the same thing. What is the PD people love? And what is the PD people love to hate? And does it matter?

These questions, among others, were at the heart of a...

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