Chicago Public Schools student rejects cheating and develops a work ethic instead

This guest post is by Rafael Ortiz, a student in the Chicago Public Schools It was just another hot summer day where all my brother and I wanted to do was sit in front of the AC and drink lemonade. My mother had other plans. She called us down to the kitchen, and we both... Read more »

Chicago Public Schools student reflects on the death and life changes of the pandemic and finds hope

This guest post is by Prabsimarn Kaur, a student in the Chicago Public Schools The day after Halloween in 2019, I came home from a long day at school. I sat near my grandpa for a while, who was pretty sick and was lying in his bed. I asked how he was and he said... Read more »

Sandra Cisneros on Martita, I Remember You and on not speaking from anger

Sandra Cisneros on Martita, I Remember You and on not speaking from anger
The last time I heard Sandra Cisneros, she spoke, even she recognizes, from a place of anger.  In her defense of American Dirt–a book she blurbed as “the great novel of las Americas”–she responded to questions in a Latino USA interview with syllables tough as the footwork in a zapateado from Veracruz. Often, the interviewer... Read more »

Why white journalists need to stop focusing on ‘learning loss’

People affected by news stories should find the reporting insightful. So it’s been disappointing that I’ve struggled to find insight or meaning or value in many news stories about how the pandemic affected teenagers in public high schools – especially in pieces written by white journalists. So much of teenagers’ lack of success in stories... Read more »

Something rises when your father dies

Something rises when your father dies–not resentment, not regret. Your chest rises as you inhale to gain momentum to say the words ascending from your heart into your head: “My father passed away.” Expectations rise–especially if you’re the eldest.  Or the one who cared for him the most.  Questions also rise. Your courage rises to... Read more »

Talking to our immigrant parents about living wills and last wishes

My 83-year-old father passed away last year. Despite the difficult circumstances, having a living will and knowing his last wishes made the situation a little more manageable. It’s a difficult but necessary conversation to have with our loved ones–especially if they’re our immigrant parents. To help others, I recently shared my story of how I... Read more »

We can't talk about Adam Toledo without talking about 7th grade

Listen to this commentary by clicking on the link above. The conversations around the Chicago police murder of Adam Toledo focus on questioning systems: the schools, the streets, the family, the cops.  But I want to talk about what it means to be a 7th grader.  Adam Toledo attended 7th grade. When a 7th grader... Read more »

Chicago Public Schools student overcomes social anxiety by playing guitar

Chicago Public Schools student overcomes social anxiety by playing guitar
by Carlos Raygoza-Perez, a student at Hancock College Prep Just hours away from the Hancock College Prep talent show in 2017, Leonel De Paz’s fingers bled. Covered in blisters and tender to the touch, Leo’s hands were ready to give out; however, he wasn’t. Fueled by his passionate love for music, he wasn’t ready to... Read more »

Chicago public school teacher discusses creating socially just and academically challenging classrooms

Thank you to Big Brown Dad’s Carlos Aguilar for inviting me to talk about teaching in Chicago for the last 25 years and what’s next. And check out Mestizo Coffee–it’s strong in a socially just way, too. (Just, uh, fast forward to 0:50 if you want to miss the quick f-bomb.) You can “Like” The White Rhino... Read more »

Chicago Public Schools needs to switch to a year-round calendar this fall

“Year-round” misleads. Students do not attend school for twelve months. Instead, this calendar includes a shorter summer break and other breaks throughout the year. We know that returning to the new normal in a post-pandemic world means change. Especially in education, we cannot return to teaching and learning and systems because “that’s what we used... Read more »