joe nathan

With racial diversity growing in many suburban and rural areas, several recent awards are especially important. The national Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color, online at www.coseboc.org, has recently recognized five outstanding district and charter public schools, including one in Minnesota. Coalition Director Ron Walker has spent 42 years as a public teacher and [...]

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We’ll come back, sadder but stronger. That’s what I’ve predicted in talking with youngsters about the second Boston Massacre – the one that just happened. Acts of horror often have the reverse impact of what was intended by those who produced them. No one should defend any of these horrible acts, committed by cowards. They [...]

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This week I thought about people like Wayne Pikal, Ramona de Rosales, Doug and Dee Thomas, Eric and Ella Mahmoud and Keith Lester. Foundation support helped these “practical visionaries” carry out their (very good) ideas. This issue comes up, in part, because the Minnesota-based Bush Foundation is seeking a new education director, to help identify [...]

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What can five- and six-year-olds learn from building a playground, or high school students learn helping to produce a play, writing a history of their community, creating YouTube videos about the value of Dual (High School/College) credit courses, conducting water quality testing, or planning and then building a community garden? The answer is clear: Students [...]

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Minnesota educators, students, parents and policymakers received another honor last week: the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked our state’s charter law as number one in the country. Thanks to a strong law, suburban and rural, as well as urban Minnesota families have high-quality options, including district and charter schools. Most Minnesota families continue [...]

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What inventions, discoveries or other changes have had the most impact on how you learn? A recent brief paper by KnowledgeWorks, a Cincinnati-based organization, lists five factors it thinks are changing the environment for “learners, learning agents, and the learning ecosystem.” But let’s start with you and me. What are the two or three most [...]

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In some ways, Penny, Pete and Paul were very different. Penny was a blonde, blue-eyed teenager who grew up on a farm in East Central Minnesota, with 10 younger brothers and sisters. Pete, who sometimes colored his hair, lived in a western Twin Cities suburb with his single-parent mom. Paul was a tall, handsome, angry [...]

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