Education, Life, Media, Politics

Diane Ravitch on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

In case you missed it, here are the unedited segments featuring Diane Ravitch from last night’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart. As always, Ravitch nails it!

Check out the first half of the interview here, and the second here.

Education, Media, Politics

Care about public schools? Watch The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Tonight!

Special guest: Diane Ravitch, author of  Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. It’s the definitive work on the current state of public education and what we must do to stop the “reformers” from ruining it.

Set your DVR. Share it with a friend. Call or email your state legislator (especially if she’s a former student and in charge of the MI House Education Committee) and tell her to watch.

Education, Politics

Common Stories of an Uncommon Corps

So this happened in the span of ten days at my public high school:

  • One of my seniors received a call from Harvard. They want him to pursue a degree at their institution of higher learning.
  • One of my students moved out of his home to live with another parent.
  • One of my students ran away.
  • One of my students moved out of his home to live with another relative.
  • One of my students was taken from foster care and sent back to a group home.

Somehow, Common Core is going to help all of these kids “compete in a global economy.” Because it’s a corporation-backed, Race-to-the-Top-baited, never field-tested set of standards that will take care of what’s hurting so many of our students.

Education, Life

Writing the Perfect College Essay In 48 Hours or Less

High school seniors seeking early admission have just over 48 hours to submit their college applications (and make sure their teachers have written letters of recommendation – like I’m writing tonight). One make-or-break aspect of the application process is the personal essay. I help students edit plenty of these every year, and it’s nice to know that educational consultant Dave Marcus agrees with me on a couple of points:

There are a lot of mistakes, but I would name three of them: 1) They take way too long to start—they warm up their engines I like to say. 2) They are really vague and we don’t get a sense of who they are. 3) A lot of kids feel they have to boast, they have to impress the admissions office—it’s not that way; it’s wrong.

Listen to an interview with Marcus on NPR’s Here and Now, right here, right now. And write tonight!

Education, Life, Literature, Pop Culture

World Book Night 2014: The Titles!

Just watched a live webcast of the announcement of the 2014 World Book Night titles. (Yes, this is what I do during my free time. Wanna make something of it?) Here they are:

The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

Presumed Innocent – Scott Turow

The Dog Stars – Peter Heller

After the Funeral – Agatha Christie

Same Difference and Other Stories (graphic novel) – Derek Kirk Kim

Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain

Sunrise Over Fallujah – Walter Dean Myers

100 Best Loved Poems

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

Hoot – Carl Hiassen

Pontoon – Garrison Keillor

Wait Till Next Year – Doris Kearns Goodwin

Miss Darcy Falls In Love – Sharon Lathan

Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 1) – John Flanagan

Young Men and Fire – Norman Maclean

Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson

Bobcat & Other Stories – Rebecca Lee

The Botany of Desire – Michael Pollan

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

The Lighthouse Road – Peter Geye

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

Enchanted – Alethea Kontis

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

Waiting to Exhale – Terry McMillan

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet – Jamie Ford

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

Tales of the City – Armistad Maupin

When I Was Puerto Rican – Esmeralda Santiago

The Zookeeper’s Wife – Diane Ackerman

The Weird Sisters – Eleanor Brown

This Boy’s Life – Tobias Wolfe

Interested book givers can apply beginning Friday, October 24. Share the love of reading by giving away books!


On the sudden loss of a high school classmate

Liisa with two i’s. That was something we’d never seen before. She moved to our district, if memory serves, at the beginning of our freshman year, a pretty blonde girl with big brown eyes and a killer smile. A voice as sweet as the person herself. I’d bet I wasn’t the only 14-year old at FHN who harbored a secret crush on Liisa Rupert.

After many, many years, we became reacquainted via Facebook. I marveled at her talent a couple of years ago during ArtPrize, and made a point of visiting her during this year’s contest. We hugged, chatted about our kids and our lives, and discovered we lived just a few blocks away from each other. Liisa was so excited for her youngest son, who just began his middle school years in a new district. In the five minutes we spent catching up, nothing seemed to have changed. Liisa was still the sweet, warm, beautiful person we knew in high school. My wife didn’t believe me when I told her Liisa and I were the same age.

Liisa lost her life in a car accident Monday morning. So sudden, so unexpected. Liisa’s smile will never fade.

You can see Liisa’s work here.  Rest in peace, my friend.