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Rick Hess Straight Up

Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

Introducing Your Special Guest Stars: From the Classroom...and Columbia

By Rick Hess — July 08, 2011 3 min read
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Hi folks. So, I’m about to take a break from the hustle and bustle of RHSU for the better part of a month. I’m going to be doing some teaching at UPenn and Rice, cranking it up on my “Cage-Busting Leadership” book (more on that in the fall), and taking a little downtime. It being summer and all, I thought it’d be a terrific time to turn RHSU over to some fresh thinkers that tend to be preoccupied during the school year. Especially after the rousing reception for Roxanna Elden last winter, I’ve heard from readers that there’s plenty of interest in hearing more smart, savvy, free-thinking practitioners weigh in on questions of policy and reform. Happily, I’ve got a winning trifecta--along with my great friend, Teachers College edu-stud Jeff Henig. Now, if the track record of guest bloggers past is any indication, you all just might not want me to come back. But c’est la vie...

Anyway, the week of July 11, first up will be Zak Champagne. Zak has taught elementary school in Jacksonville, Florida, for the past 12 years and last year was named Duval County’s Teacher of the Year. I met Zak while down in Duval talking about teacher evaluation a while back. He impressed the hell out of me, and I think you’ll enjoy hearing what he has to say. He has won a slew of other teaching awards, including teacher of the year for West Jacksonville Elementary in 2002 and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching for the state of Florida (the highest recognition that a mathematics or science teacher can receive). In 2009, he received one of the two hundred Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy Scholarships and he is currently one of five finalists for the Macy’s Florida Teacher of the Year Award. Zak teaches fifth grade at Mandarin Oaks Elementary School and is an adjunct professor at the University of North Florida.

Next up, the week of July 18, is Cole Farnum. This coming year, Cole will be teaching sixth grade math at Harlem Village Academies in New York City. Cole joined TFA in 2006 and spent two years in rural south Texas teaching fifth grade, including bilingual and special education students in a self-contained classroom. In 2008, Cole joined TFA’s recruitment team; the following year, he racked up an Ed.M. at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Since that time, he’s been an Education Pioneers Fellow, taught at Prospect Hill Academy Charter School in Massachusetts, and researched professional development centers to help distill promising practices. I met Cole through the Harvard University “Futures” project that I’ve been doing with Bob Schwartz, Jal Mehta, and a mess of other smart folks. I loved his take, as a teacher who’s also been involved in policy and non-classroom roles.

The week of July 25, you’ll get the stylings of the inimitable Jeff Henig. A professor of political science and education at Teachers College, Jeff has penned or edited a bunch of influential, award-winning books, including The Color of School Reform: Race, Politics and the Challenge of Urban Education, Building Civic Capacity: The Politics of Reforming Urban Schools, and Spin Cycle: How Research Is Used in Policy Debates. Jeff’s a go-to thinker on the politics of education, charter schooling, and the complexities of urban school reform. He is smart, thoughtful, and droll as hell. Problem is he’s not often inclined to write bloggish pieces, so you’ll mostly find his stuff in big books or tedious journals--neither of which is especially likely to showcase the guy who’s so much fun over a cocktail.

Finally, the week of August 1, you’ll get a chance to hear from the fascinating Michael Bromley. Michael has taught social studies at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, DC, for the past six years. Not so unusual. Intriguing is that Michael came to the classroom after building and managing a $15 million a year business in South America. Deciding he wanted to do something closer to his heart, Michael returned to his love of history, teaching, and writing. He has penned two books and a bunch of articles on early automobiles and the politics of the Progressive Era. Michael’s take on schooling is shot through with comparisons and examples drawn from his time in the private sector and his successes as a scrambling entrepreneur, and I’m confident you’ll find it refreshing and eye-opening.

The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.