Monthly Archives: July 2012

Empathy for a Killer?

As the bizarre courtroom faces of James Holmes start appearing in newspapers alongside the beautiful lost faces of the twelve people he murdered, I wonder: is it possible for feel empathy for a person capable of such senseless violence?

I think the answer is that it depends, and what it depends on is the larger story of James Holmes, and what that story tells us about this 24-year-old killer, and, by extension, ourselves.

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Categories: Voice

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This is What Intrinsic Motivation Looks Like

Imagine if it were unleashed everywhere?

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Categories: Learning7 Comments

Are Parent Trigger Laws a Good Idea?

It’s hard not to feel excited for the group of parents who successfully took over their California community’s school, and who now are dreaming of bigger things. “Our children will now get the education they deserve,” said Doreen Diaz, whose daughter attends Desert Trails Elementary in Adelanto. “We are on the way to making a quality school for them, and there’s no way we will back down.”

It’s equally hard to feel confident that this story will have the ending Ms. Diaz and others envision.

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Categories: Equity, Learning, Organizational Change, Parenting

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This is Why Arts Education Matters

Imagine if every school provided its kids with these sorts of opportunities?

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Categories: Learning

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Should States Be Sued for Providing Low-Quality Schools?

How’s this for a summer blockbuster – the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the state of Michigan for violating the “right to learn” of its children, a right guaranteed under an obscure state law.

That assistance hasn’t happened, says Kary L. Moss, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the ACLU. “The Highland Park School District is among the lowest-performing districts in the nation, graduating class after class of children who are not literate. Our lawsuit . . . says that if education is to mean anything, it means that children have a right to learn to read.”

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Categories: Equity

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Our School: Searching for Community in the Era of Choice

Unlike the others, who set off in teams to look for the twigs, branches, and leaves they would weave together to capture the essence of their school, Laura Graber searched the ground around her, alone.

It was unlike her – the person most responsible for bringing this group together in the first place to launch a school from scratch, and the person most committed to doing so democratically. But now it was June, and the inaugural year was over, and the staff of twenty-one women and two men was completing its last shared activity before the start of the summer, when the size of their team would double, when they would pack up all the records and wires and playthings and poster boards and move to a new building across town, and when the glow of what had just been accomplished would start to fade in exchange for a renewed anxiety of all the new challenges to be overcome.

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Categories: Book Projects, Starting a School

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What Makes a Great School?

What does a healthy, high-functioning learning environment actually look like – and how can parents determine if their child is lucky enough to be attending one?

For modern American families, those questions are more relevant than ever, as increasing numbers of students are opting out of their neighborhood schools and into the chaotic, nascent marketplace of school choice. What they’re finding is that the recipe for school success is an elusive set of ingredients that is extremely difficult to convey simply and clearly– something Bill Jackson knows all too well.

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Categories: Assessment, Learning, Organizational Change

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