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Three Ways to Make a Difference For Public Education in 2014

The most important thing we can do to restore equal opportunity in our nation is strengthen public education.


It's been a little over five years since a financial crisis pushed our economy to the brink of disaster. Thankfully we didn't fall into the abyss, but the recovery hasn't been equally shared among all Americans. While long term unemployment remains perilously high and middle class families struggle to pay their bills, a fortunate few enjoy unprecedented prosperity.

It's not our imagination; inequality in America really is growing wider. In fact, the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality recently reported that the U.S. now ranks third among all advanced nations in the level of income inequality. This dangerous trend threatens our country's stability and one of our most important valuesour commitment to equal opportunity for every person. That's why President Obama recently called inequality the most serious threat to the American Dream.

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We Need Meaningful Partnerships Between Public and Private Schools

Both public and private schools have common commitments, so why not work to together?


So many questions in education are both vexing and exciting. Some of these emerge from efforts to construct authentic partnerships between public and private schools and their constituents. As a private school leader and a public school parent, I am concerned about the assumptions that often govern such partnerships between students, teachers, parents, and leaders in the public and private sectors—assumptions that, in many cases, strengthen misconceptions each of us have about "the other."

The problem starts with unchallenged conclusions that we in private schools, despite our best intentions, often draw—about our entitlements to resources, and about the effectiveness of our learning models. Add to that a dash of the intellectual and moral self-righteousness that ferments in a pot of unexamined privilege—then season that, in turn, with pandemic misconceptions in our private schools about public schools, their constituents, and their value—and we have an accidental recipe for a toxic soup.

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GOOD Ideas for Cities: Developing Local Support for Portland's Public Schools

85% of people in central Portland have no children of school age. A hackathon uncovered ways to help connect those residents to their local school.

When a team from Wieden + Kennedy confronted its challenge to engage the community in public schools for GOOD Ideas for Cities Portland, a surprising statistic came to the forefront: 85% of people in central Portland have no children of school age. With so few residents with a natural link to education, Portland’s public schools are struggling to develop community support.

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Does Teach For America's Summer Institute Really Prepare Teachers for the Classroom?

Institute guru Susan Asiyanbi responds to some of the common critiques of the intensive process.


Over the next few weeks, 5,200 new Teach For America members will become first-year teachers in some of this nation’s most challenging school settings. In lieu of a traditional, year-long teacher preparation program, they just spent five weeks attending one of the organization's eight summer training institutes. That short time span makes the institute an intense experience, and critics say it can’t truly prepare corps members to teach.

The institutes are overseen by Susan Asiyanbi, Teach For America’s executive vice president for teacher preparation, support and development, who draws on her personal experience growing up on the South Side of Chicago and working as a corps member in Newark, New Jersey, as well her Kellogg M.B.A. We caught up with her to find out what the organization is doing to improve its training program, and got some answers to some of the common critiques of the process.

GOOD: What does a typical day at the institute look like for a corps member?

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For the Good of All Students: Why I'm Marching for Education Justice

We don’t have to eradicate a person’s soul in order to make them a great leader and thinker.

This weekend, I have the honor of speaking and marching with thousands of concerned educators, parents, and students at the Save Our Schools March and Conference. We’ll have local events across the country, but the main event happens in the nation’s capital with folks like Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling-Hammond, Matt Damon, Jon Stewart, and plenty of other concerned citizens making a statement about the state of our country’s public schools.

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Detroit's Plan to Close Half Its Schools? Now They're Turning Them Into Charters

The beleaguered school system plans to turn 41 campuses over to charter organizations. The thing is, they're not any better than public schools.

Remember Detroit Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb's plan shut down half the city's public schools over the next two years and raise remaining class sizes to 60 students in order to address a $327 million budget deficit? Well, now Bobb has a new strategy he's calling "Renaissance Plan 2012," and with it, he hopes to turn 41 of Detroit's schools over to charter school operators.

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