Mary, the physical education teacher, sent Nina to my office for disrespectful behavior. The level of teacher frustration and the repeated offenses caused me to call the parents and ask them to come in so we could all talk.
When she heard that her parents were coming, Nina reacted as if this were the worst possible punishment I could give her. “Please, please, please, don’t talk to her,” Nina pleaded.

“You can’t seem to stop being disrespectful, and we have to get to the bottom of this,” I said. “I have to involve your parents.”

Read More…

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You wouldn’t understand. You’re white
Just because I’m white doesn’t mean I don’t understand.

The two people who spoke these words were fourteen, 27 years ago. They were eighth graders at my school in Oakland, California, when the Rodney King verdict came down.

I was going through old documents, yesterday, and saw my article that the Montclarion had published in May of 1992. When I read the article again, I got a small burst of hope. Yes, the racism that has laced our country from its inception is still with us, and yet when I zoom out and look at where we have come since 1992, I see a road, and I see millions of people walking it. Read More…


Weaving Webs of Weavers

by Rick on June 28, 2019

Last week I discovered that I am a weaver in league with hundreds of other weavers all over the world.News of world problems often brings my mind to the continuing sorry state of education in America. How are schools part of the problem? How can school culture be part of the solution? What are the design elements of such schools? How can individuals team up to recreate schools to create a better world?

These questions have been my passion since, at the age of 29, I became principal of a school in Kansas City, Missouri. The school was in trouble—such trouble, in fact, that I was the only person they could find to be its principal. Read More…


“Goodbye, Mr. Rick,”
said five-year-old Iliana on her way out of school
“Goodbye, Iliana.”
“You’re the principal.”“That’s right. I am the principal.”
“You are in charge of everything.”
“That’s right.”
”You can DO anything you want.”
Ah. I get it. This is not the usual pleasantries
communicating mutual affection,
but a serious educational conversation.
“Well, no, Iliana, I can’t do anything I want.
“I have to obey the same rules you do.
“I have to respect everyone.
“I have to be kind all the time.”
“Yeah, Mr. Rick, you have to follow the rules on the play structure.”
“Right,” I said and paused. Read More…


Adolescence Is Hard

by Rick on May 28, 2019

The path is never straight,
and the parenting is rarely easy.

Susan (19) hates Columbia.
Wants to drop out,
Considered suicide.
Hates therapy
and her therapist.
Her mother says:
“She’s always had trouble making friends.
“As a baby, she could not be consoled.
“She would stop crying, when I put her down!”

But last week everything changed.
Susan texted: “Camp is where I’m my best self.”
Text#2: “They put me in charge of the new recruits.”
Text#3: “Decided to stay at Columbia,”

Adolescence is hard;
the path is never straight,
and it’s never in our hands.

As Robert Sapolski says in
Dude, Where is My Fontal Lobe?: Read More…