Author: Maureen Kelleher

Maureen Kelleher is a senior writer and editor at Education Post, but before that she spent a decade as a reporter, blogger and policy analyst. Her work has been published across the education world, from Education Week to the Center for American Progress. Between 1998 and 2006 she was an associate editor at Catalyst Chicago, the go-to magazine covering Chicago’s public schools. There, her reporting won awards from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the International Reading Association and the Society for Professional Journalists. A former high school English teacher, she is also the proud mom of an elementary student at Chicago’s Namaste Charter School. Find her on Twitter at @KelleherMaureen.

Chicago’s Freshman OnTrack Effort Shows Why Playing the Long Game Makes Real Change

Much the Chicago narrative in Emily Krone Phillips’ new book, The Make-or-Break Year, parallels the national arc of school reform. Early, stringent emphasis on accountability pried open classroom doors and created urgency around the need to change adult beliefs and practices that weren’t helping students graduate, especially those facing disadvantage due to race or economic status. But Chicago’s unique success with…

How Freshman OnTrack Transformed Hancock High School

Earlier this week, we took a look at some big-picture lessons from Emily Krone Phillips’ new book, The Make-or-Break Year. To see the work from a school-level lens, Krone Phillips recounts Hancock High’s remarkable turnaround using Freshman OnTrack. At first, the Hancock story reads a bit like a traditional ed-reform narrative—idealistic principal Pam Glynn pushes her team of skeptical, mostly-White teachers…

‘The Make-or-Break Year” Offers Ed Reformers Sobering Lessons in Real School Change

“If we have to remove dead weight, we will remove dead weight.” That’s what the assistant principal of Chicago’s Orr High School told me in 1998, when I asked him how he dealt with no-show students. What he meant was, they’d be dropped from the school rolls and handed a list of alternative schools to call. As both an education…

George Washington High School Gets “Rooted” in Mentoring

Near-peer mentoring–bringing together older and younger students rather than pairing students with adult mentors–is getting a lot of attention these days. Washington High School in Chicago’s East Side neighborhood is now offering its students a near-peer mentoring opportunity through a new after school club, Rooted. Senior Marcos Muñoz (left)  and freshman Kenneth Johnson are members. “When I was kid, I always…

Is An Elected School Board Just a Distraction?

Last week I had the opportunity to talk school board governance and its impact on student achievement on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. You can watch the segment above to see me talking it over with elected school board supporter Roderick Wilson, executive director of the Lugenia Burns Hope Center in Bronzeville. Popular frustration with decisions like the massive school closings and…

Jones Counselor Brian Coleman Talks College Access, Sex Ed and Supporting LGBTQ+ Students

Brian Coleman, who heads the counseling department at Jones College Prep, has been named the 2019 National School Counselor of the Year. This is the second year in a row that a Chicago Public Schools counselor has held the title. Chicago Unheard spoke with Brian recently about his journey from acting to school counseling, the ways Jones is strengthening college…

You Might Be Surprised to Learn How Much MLK and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Have in Common

In this reflection, Chicago Unheard and Education Post contributor ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson offers history teachers some food for thought in helping students understand just how radical Martin Luther King, Jr. appeared in his day.   “God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.”- Dr. King, “Strength to Love”,…