Earlier today, I was on the phone with a colleague when the phone went dead. I called back.
“Where did I lose you?”
“You lost me at ‘Hello.'”
Here’s the plan. Mostly, on this blog, I’ll offer up thoughts about ideas that move me. More often than not, that means the work of fixing education in the places it’s most broken. A great education opens the doors to wonders and riches of every kind. But if you grow up in West Oakland, or Bedford-Stuyvesant, or South Central, the chances are pretty slim that your education will offer a path to wonders and riches.
We can change those odds. Not for some far-off generation, but for kids who are kids now and need a great education now. I believe, passionately, that good public schools can do for them what they did for my parents, who grew up in refugee families in this country. They achieved comfort and success–the American dream–on the strength of a great public education, from grade school through college. They got what Horace Mann promised: a public school good enough to make the barriers of wealth and class porous. Yet somehow, it’s become vogue to doubt that education can lift children out of poverty. That doubt exists in the face of living proof, all over this country, that great public schools and great teachers are changing life trajectories, even in the toughest circumstances. I’ll be talking here about how we make that happen, and sometimes, about what, and who, is keeping us from getting there faster.
Loosely speaking, those are the ideas that have made up most of my working life. I taught public high school for a few years as part of the first corps of Teach For America, and then became an education journalist, ultimately writing a book about the successes and struggles of inner-city charter school efforts. In the process, I discovered KIPP, which was then two schools (109 now!) and was lucky enough to become part of the organization, helping to think about how KIPP would enter the world of high school, and, later, elementary school. Four years ago, I joined up at NewSchools Venture Fund, an organization that provides funding and management assistance to folks who are building innovative organizations that improve public education in low-income communities. I get to spend much of my time there thinking and writing about these same ideas that I’m so passionate about in my life. Sometimes, you’ll find my thoughts on the blog there; others will spill over to this one.
Not that it’ll be all work stuff, all the time on my blog. There’s more to life, and I’ll try to fill out the picture a bit. Unusual conversations, wonderful people, memorable stops along the way. You know, the stuff life is made of.
I hope you’ll be part of the conversation.