Celebrating July 4th with Jose Feliciano's stylized version of our national anthem

These days, finding pride in being American comes with difficulty.  Tense, toxic, divisive, and disdainful, American culture appears problematic in so many instances.  As a first-generation American of Mexican descent, I cringe and curse after learning of every injustice under this malignant presidency. Still, I cannot live life in this America feeling poisoned and powerless. ... Read more »

Newest Selective Enrollment high school in Chicago Public Schools to get a new building—finally

Newest Selective Enrollment high school in Chicago Public Schools to get a new building—finally
On Saturday, June 16, 13th Ward Alderman Marty Quinn, Rep. Michael Madigan, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced at a small press conference that Hancock College Prep will get a new building. Details of the new building will follow.  What we know at this point is that the new building will be in the 13th Ward... Read more »

How to save a class discussion that's dying

As a Chicago Public Schools teacher, I know effective whole-class discussions are part thoughtful planning and part luck. Sometimes an instructional approach works so well that we expect the same results the next time we use it. And sometimes, that works out. Other times, we wonder, “What the heck happened?” I thought I had found... Read more »
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How a nonprofit coffeehouse brings arts and healthier food to disadvantaged communities

Coffeehouses exist everywhere.  But a new nonprofit approach to this popular business can be a way to bring the arts, opportunities, and healthier eating to disadvantaged communities. My latest article for Latino Rebels tells the story of the Sabinas Coffeehouse in San Antonio, Texas which, for a year and a half, has become a place... Read more »

When your 12-year-old son faces racism in Little League

Please see the May 1 update at the bottom of this post. As parents, we walk a fine line between solving our children’s problems and letting them struggle on their own. My 12-year-old plays baseball on a travel team with a West Lawn team from Chicago’s Southwest side. This morning, we drove around Beverly, Mount Greenwood,... Read more »

Chicago Public Schools student reflects on her arrest at Washington D.C. immigration march

This guest post was written by my Chicago Public Schools student, Daniella Cruz. I boarded the plane at 5:45 p.m., embarking on a journey with no idea what to expect, except that I would learn how to take action. My mother gave me “una bendición,” a blessing through the phone, as I was about to... Read more »
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Chicago Public Schools needs to invest in school newspapers and journalism programs

The Southside Weekly ran a story about the journalism programs at three Chicago Public Schools: Juarez, Lindblom, and Hancock (where I teach journalism).  High-school newspapers, like so much of print media, are dying out.  But a few of us high-school teachers are finding ways to keep this medium–which challenges students to be responsible, informative, and... Read more »

Chicago Public Schools grad committed to increasing diversity on her Michigan college campus

This guest post is by my former Chicago Public Schools student Alondra Alcazar.  While growing up, everything was normal to me. Waking up to the delicious smell of huevos con chorizo and chilaquiles and the sound of my mom giving praise to Juan Gabriel was what made my Saturday mornings distinct. However, it wasn’t pleasant... Read more »

Teachers must be for gun control now

Teachers must be for gun control now
One thing I’ve learned in my twenty-two years as a Chicago Public Schools teacher is this: I carry the responsibility of making students feel safe in my classroom. This responsibility I—and all teachers–carry does not include carrying a gun. Yesterday, at a meeting with teen survivors and parents of the Florida school shooting, Trump said... Read more »
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New study highlights the struggles and strengths of Latino teachers

During my 22 years as an educator in the Chicago Public Schools, I’ve been the first male Latino English teacher at every high school where I’ve taught, whether it was an alternative, Selective Enrollment, or neighborhood school. When I started at my current Southwest side high school, a student said she wasn’t accustomed to a... Read more »