“She didn’t realize the severity of using such a term.”

That was the first response I received nearly two weeks after an adult coach — and a mother of an athlete — used the “N word” in the cheer gym where my 13-year-old daughter trained. For more than 10 days, there was silence from the owners, the administrators, and the coaches. But the young Black woman who who heard it spoke out. She took to Facebook Live the day after the incident, speaking of the slurs, curses, and concerning behaviors of many of the adults involved in the gym.


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Not a day goes by without hearing from some marketer discussing the importance of reaching the holy grail of audiences — 16- to 25-year-olds. Millennials, Gen Zs, and now Gen Alphas are who we all want to successfully inform and drive to action.

Chock full of disposable income, still developing brand loyalties, and facing the intellectual crossroads of what they want to do in school and in life, reaching this demographic is growing more and more important to everyone from soda companies to college admissions officers.

Successfully doing so, however, is a growing challenge. Last week, the NonProfit Times ran…

CREDIT: Seyens

The “science of reading,” the very foundations of Reading First and programs like it, is experiencing a renaissance these days. No matter what we wish to call it, these foundational elements of literacy again capture the hearts and minds of countless schools and families looking for literacy skills to improve their lots in life and close the achievement gaps in their schools, particularly as we begin to see the results of a year and a half of “Covid school.”

So how do we do it? What are the core components of the ghosts of research-provide literacy programs past that redouble…

What is the future of the federal investment in reading instruction?

Credit: Getting Smart

As states and educators increasingly call for an embrace (or is it re-embrace?) of the “science of reading” in classrooms across the nation, we need to ask an important question. What is the future of the federal investment in reading instruction?

It’s been a decade and a half since we killed off Reading First, the scientifically based reading instruction program that served as a cornerstone of No Child Left Behind. After billions of dollars spent, a significant number of research studies demonstrating its effectiveness at the state level, and even a US Department of Education study highlighting that the program…

CREDIT: Getting Smart

During the Obama-Biden Administration, there was much talk about teacher quality, closing the achievement gap, and ensuring our communities have the systems in place to drive the levels of improvement we have sought for so long. But with all of that rhetoric, there was little attention paid to the research, evidence, proof, and data that should be separating the good ideas from the great ideas.

As he begins his presidency, President Joe Biden enters after campaigning on the belief that we improve public education by lifting the profession and investing in teachers. …

Credit: Washington Informer

We need a history education czar. Or more specifically, the US Department of Education does.

For decades now, we have been quick to name federal “czars” to oversee specific issues that are critical to the times. We’ve had poverty czars and AIDS czars. Climate czars and border czars. Homelessness czars and Ebola czars. Trade czars and terrorism czars. With each appointment, the Federal government sought to address an immediate issue that either cut across multiple government agencies or was falling through the cracks in an existing federal office.

Last fall, I led a national study of high school students, finding…

What are the essential elements of good reading instruction?

Photo Credit: The Conversation

In recent months, the “science of reading” has returned to center stage for the educators of young children. For most, we understand that the reading proficiency of fourth-graders is one of the strongest indicators of student success in middle and high school, as well as in college and career. Literacy matters, as does how we teach children to attain those literacy skills.

Of course, decades of scientific evidence has also made clear that high-quality teachers are a top predictor of how well students achieve academically. These teachers understand not only the subjects they teach but how children learn — the…

Sadly, it is time to officially announce my retirement. And to borrow from New York Yankee great Lou Gehrig, I can proudly proclaim that I, too, am the “luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Last week, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced the end of all indoor youth sports for the year, a preemptive strike against rising coronavirus cases. That announcement has meant that my season, and my coaching career, are now done. I have officially retired my cheer bow.

Six years ago, my then six-year-old daughter decided she wanted to be a cheerleader. After two seasons on…

Credit: New York Times

Even before President-elect Joe Biden offered his inspiring remarks to the nation this weekend, the social media posts declaring, “bye, Betsy” clearly signaled that the education community was long-past ready to move on from US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Earlier in the week, Democrats for Education reform provided a short list of public school superintendents it would support for the position. …

Empowering teachers so they lead in their classrooms

CREDIT: Digital Promise

A decade ago, Professional Learning in the Learning Profession offered the nation a glimpse into the sorry state of teacher development in the United States. This important report was published by Learning Forward (then known as the National Staff Development Council) and renowned education professor (and current chair of the California State Board of Education) Linda Darling-Hammond.

At the time, then-US Education Secretary Arne Duncan declared that “nothing is more important than teacher quality.” Darling-Hammond added that “we must close the yawning achieving gap in this country.” The takeaway, in 2009, was a simple one. The state of teacher professional…

Patrick Riccards

Father; education advocacy pro; founder of Driving Force Institute; author of Eduflack blog; VP of Coker University; education agitator

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