NEWS, SPORTS, COMMENTARY, POLITICS for Gloucester City and the Surrounding Areas of South Jersey and Philadelphia

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Camden Diocese's Bishop Dennis Sullivan At State Meeting

Jeanne Allen from Forza...for Education

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There are a lot of things I love about my work, my colleagues and many of YOU reading Forza today.  And I’m crazy about anything or anyone that works hard to influence those who influence policy, or people, or behaviors to understand what it takes to educate kids. Like these examples…

Loving the Yass Prize Family of Innovators

Love was in the air even before Valentine’s Day, when Yass Prize awardees and alumni reunited in Washington DC for two jam-packed days to fill the hearts and minds of members of Congress, Governors and their teams with their views on what it takes to foster an environment of innovation, opportunity and success for the nation’s students. You’ll want to read all about it here.

Learning is More Than Just Thinking

Speaking of love, I love this piece from Jon Schaff at “Public Discourse” about how to help students actually become critical thinkers. It’s always bothered me that educators and pundits would talk about teaching critical thinking without actually giving students critical stuff to think about! Then this just came out. It’s so spot on. If you love kids and want them to succeed, you have to give them something to dig into, stuff that is hard, but meaningful, that pushes them. Says Schaff in his commentary:

“The first step to creating actual thinkers is giving them something to think about. Call it what you will: cultural literacy, liberal education, the grammar of the ancient trivium. Whatever the appellation, students need a firm grounding in the history, literature, and traditions of their people. This gives them a myriad of references on which to draw as they learn.

“Better thinkers immerse themselves not just in the culture of today, but in the rich heritage of a civilization. This is true for two reasons…First, the new has not been tested, while the old has. While we must avoid antiquarian credulity, we should generally put more faith in the value of the old than the new. Second, each age has its prejudices. A healthy way to combat our temporal prejudice is to get outside our times and read and contemplate older works.”  

LOVE that!

I really love this guy…


…the one in between ND Governor Doug Burgum and me last week. He’s Cory Steiner the head of Northern Cass School District, where Burgum actually went to school, and he’s thrown out seat-time in favor of competency-based and personalized education.

He’s one of dozens, maybe hundreds, and one of a select few of the Yass Prize Awardees this cycle.  Innovative district leaders - what a dream!

And this one too

The unparalleled Bob Woodson, civil rights icon and former head of the National Urban League has spent generations working to help solve the problems of low-income communities through his National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. His op-ed from two weeks ago, calls on us to help youth in dramatically different, more value-centric ways. Here’s just a snippet:

“Young people are wandering without purpose in their life.  As a consequence of this emptiness, they devalue their own lives, and they’ll act by taking their own or someone else’s life.”  

“Why else would a 6-year-old bring a gun to school and shoot his teacher?  Why else would teenagers be solfing trivial disputes with deadly weapons or beating elderly men to death for no reason at all?”

“We won’t get out of our current tailspin of violence, addiction, and despair unless we reckon with the crux of the problem – a crisis of values.”

And this amazing woman…

…who is beating all odds in her efforts to educate migrant students in rural Florida communities. Juana Brown, the founder of RCMA Immokalee Charter Schools, serves over 2000 students in grades K-8 in five different schools across five counties. They are on their way to creating what could be a national model for how to best serve rural and immigrant communities and broadening the definition of school to extend beyond academics, but rather a place that is a community hub.


And last but not least, talk about LOVE!

Some of the students at CARE Elementary in the very disadvantaged Overtown section of Miami, FL, come to school every day knowing they are loved, and end school with their “Chapel” songs of blessings and love that keep them motivated day in and day out. CARE’s school results are outstanding and have been even when the country’s Covid days were upon us. Christopher Simmonds fosters the love…and deserves our gratitude in his effort to serve and grow more underserved students.


Happy Valentine’s Day! - Jeanne

Be My Valentine