Teaching my Chicago Public Schools students the importance of saying "thank you" even if it makes them feel powerless

As I’ve mentioned before, in addition to teaching my Chicago Public Schools students writing skills, I also find opportunities to teach them social skills.  In an era where students have easy access to material goods and where so many things are done for them, I devoted some time this week to remind my high-school students... Read more »

Why I stopped asking students, "How are you?"

Aside from teaching my Chicago Public Schools students how to write, I remain committed to helping students develop social skills. I want them to converse (not “conversate”) about their experiences and the world around them. One of our classroom expectations is “Be Honest.” I ask students to be truthful about their situations if they didn’t... Read more »

Chicago Public Schools students highlight the contradictions in Trump’s Las Vegas shooting speech

Any reasonable opportunity I get, I bring in contemporary and controversial issues into my AP English Language classes at my Southwest side Chicago public high school. Otherwise, what’s the point of studying rhetoric? Today, my junior classes viewed President Trump’s speech in response to the tragic Las Vegas shooting. I asked them to also do... Read more »
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When you don’t know what to say to a DACA recipient fearing the future

Today was the first day of school for Chicago Public Schools. I knew that some time during my teaching day, Trump would make his announcement about Obama’s Executive Order protecting immigrants who were brought here illegally as children. Sure enough, Attorney General Jeff Session announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) would be... Read more »

Inequalities in Chicago Public Schools remain evident on first day of school

On the first day of school for Chicago Public Schools, the inequalities remain apparent in buildings that are not full of affluent students.  CEO Forrest Claypool will visit a state-of-the-art high school in Gage Park today that’s six years old and blocks away from a run down high-school building with more promise. At Hancock College... Read more »

Four questions teacher leaders should ask themselves

Last year Teach to Lead invited me to give the keynote speech at the summit on inclusion, equity, and opportunity. A partnership between, National Board, ASCD, and the U.S. Department of Education, Teach to Lead hosts Teacher Leadership Summits to help spotlight and advance the groundbreaking, teacher-led work that is happening in states, districts, and schools across... Read more »
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Why a Chicago school voucher tax-credit program won't ensure student success

Details of the new Illinois school funding agreement, resulting from a bill Gov. Rauner criticized as a bailout of the Chicago Public Schools, remain vague after Mayor’s Emanuel’s press conference today. But talk of $75 million in publicly funded tax credits for private school scholarships in the agreement (as reported by Chicago SunTimes) continues to... Read more »

Two Chicago Universities Establish Generous Scholarships for Undocumented Students

As Lisseth Perez completed her education in the Chicago Public Schools, she kept her undocumented status private even when her college counselor, a trusted resource in the school community, kept pushing her to opportunities for which she did not qualify. It was late in her senior year of high school when Perez shared her status... Read more »

Despite Potential to Improve Student Success, Latino Male Teachers Remain Scarce

In high school, when Fernando Reyes started thinking about the type of career he wanted, he thought about becoming a pyrotechnician. “I loved working with demolition, explosives, anything that involved that type of chemistry,” he told Latino USA. But when Reyes started taking chemistry classes, he discovered that while he was passionate about seeing chemistry in... Read more »
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Listen to an excerpt from Chicago Public Schools teacher novel about music and 26th Street

Listen to an excerpt of my novel The Hot Mix, a coming of age novel set of an iconic Chicago neighborhood, due out summer 2019 from La Casita Grande Press. To listen on my publisher’s site, click here. Follow my road to publication on Twitter @whiterhinoray. or on Instagram: @WhiteRhinoRay. To subscribe to the White Rhino Blog, scroll... Read more »