I now drop the mic…

A thank you note from Chicago high school students.

Below is a section of the thank-you card I received from juniors at the Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in Chicago. The card was a sweet surprise. I will treasure it.

Brooks is a selective enrollment public high school nestled on 40 acres near the Historic Pullman District on the far south side. It

IMG_2316made the news this spring when Chicago’s most famous selective high school—Payton–initially forfeited a baseball game. Apparently some Payton parents were nervous about driving their kids down to Brooks’ campus Mayor Emanuel made a point of visiting the rescheduled game, which I hope  shamed some people.

The forfeit was really stupid, since my most frightening experience at Brooks occurred when some angry geese hissed at me after I accidentally approached their young. Don’t laugh—these birds can really mess you up.*

I addressed an assembly of the junior class. We covered the whole gamut related to youth violence: gun safety legislation, drug legalization, efforts to help young people improve their self-regulation and social-cognitive skills. I then shared a long lunch with about twenty students. It was a great time with the students and staff. I hope to come back.

I was inspired by the visit, but a bit saddened, too–not by anything at Brooks, but by the contrast with other places. Continue reading “I now drop the mic…”

What price democracy?

There’s an old joke about a man who asks a woman to sleep with him for $1 million. She agrees, whereupon he asks her to sleep with him for $1. “What kind of a girl do you think I am?” asks the woman indignantly. “We’ve settled that,” replies the man, “We’re just arguing about the price.”

This came to mind in response to this story about the price of the Broad Foundation’s generosity to the schools of New Jersey. A recent Broad Foundation grant stipulates that it will be available only as long as Chris Christie remains governor.
Continue reading “What price democracy?”

Education, training, and the research university

Is the job of the university just to provide new knowledge from its research activity and trained workers from its students? Where does education fit in?

Two weeks ago, the University of Virginia’s governing body, the Board of Visitors, fired the president of the university. The move, of which there had apparently been no foreshadowing whatever, was accompanied by a statement about the need to “develop, articulate, and implement a concrete and achievable strategic plan to re-elevate the University to its highest potential” and some mutterings about something called “strategic dynamism.” In addition to the word salad, there was other evidence that the firing was part of a coup by business school alumni on the board, including the appointment of the undergraduate business dean as interim president. The faculty and students went ballistic.

Today word came out that the president will be reinstated: I guess when the Governor ordered the board to resolve the matter by today or be dismissed en masse, the message was clear, since the faculty and students had made it clear that they wouldn’t accept any other resolution.

I’ll be visiting the University of Virginia this fall, teaching the introductory course in the Batten School’s new undergraduate major in public policy. Last week I was in Charlottesville for a curriculum meeting, with the board’s ouster of the University’s popular president looming in the background. As it happens, the conversation at the meeting overlapped with what I suspect was the deeper issue between the president and the board.
Continue reading “Education, training, and the research university”


To be well positioned in a Republican primary, a candidate needs to want children brought to this country by their undocumented parents to remain both ignorant and sick. In this country’s long history, has there ever before been a major party so flat-out morally depraved?

Mitt Romney is appalled that Rick Perry provided education for “illegals.” But Rick Perry has a good riposte to that: Romneycare in Massachusetts provided them with medical care.

So: to be well positioned in a Republican primary, a candidate needs to want children brought to this country by their undocumented parents to remain both ignorant and sick.

And none of the rest of the Nine Dwarves has the decency to challenge this disgusting nonsense. Has there ever been a major party in this country’s history so flat-out morally depraved?