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People: When (Former) Reformers Get Reformed*

Chicago's Seth Lavin taught for a few  years, worked a non-education job for a little while, and built a fun weekly education blog called Chicago School Wonks before he returned to the classroom at the start of the 2012-2013 school year.  

image from farm4.staticflickr.com

Along the way Lavin learned a lot about school reform, including its weaknesses and disappointments, and it was fascinating if disheartening to witness his evolution. (See previous posts: Citizen Journalist Extraordinaire Seth LavinLost In Chicago)

The latest news is that Lavin has been pulled back into the school reform process -- this time on the receiving end -- through his wife, Kate, also a teacher, and the potential closing of their neighborhood school in fast-gentrifying Logan Square.  Called Brentano, it's a place Kate and Seth plan on sending their child. She's already on the local school council, as a community representative.  But Brentano curently on a list of roughly 100 possible schools to be closed for low performance and/or under-utlization.  The school is better than it looks, and less empty than it might have seemed in the 2010 Census which is being used.  Etc.

This is just one incident, and my purpose is not to lambaste Lavin or anyone else but rather to highlight the reality that it feels different when you're on the "being reformed" side (to the extent that school consolidation can be considered reform) than it does when you're the one doing the reforming to others, and that as the current reform movement has grown and evolved it seems like there are more folks like Seth and Kate who've been through a cycle and ended up in a somewhat different place than where they started.

Click below for news coverage of the Brentano pushback against the possible closing. You can find Lavin on Twitter @sethlavin. Image via CCFlickr

*Correction:  The original version of this post had Lavin's wife Kate teaching at the school, and omitted that she is on the LSC.

Univision: "Padres luchan por evitar el cierre de escuela Brentano en Logan Square"http://univisionchicago.univision.com/videos/video/2013-02-06/padres-luchan-por-evitar-el

WBEZ: "Aldermen and parents want North Side school to stay open" http://www.wbez.org/news/aldermen-and-parents-want-north-side-school-stay-open-105387

Medill reports: "Logan Square community, aldermen rally to save elementary school" http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=215272&terms=bryan%20lowry%20 

Fox: "Aldermen, parents urge CPS to not close Logan Square school"



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This wording is under "Russia" in the stylebook of a major American newspaper:

"Avoid use of “reform” or “reformer.” “Reform” means a change for the better.
A reform to one person may be a change for the worse to another."

That newspaper does use "reform" in connection with education (though it is being reminded), but there's no reason the exact same caution shouldn't apply.

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