The Path to “Dadprovement”

Earlier this year, Eduflack had noted that he had completed a new book on fatherhood, and the book would be coming out soon. After initially self-publishing it through Amazon, I’m pleased to announce that Red Wheel Publishing is releasing the book, and is currently planning to do so in August.

Eduflack fans be warned, this is not my typical policy rants or communications critiques. Instead, this is a very personal and emotional story. It talks through all of the triumphs and challenges my wife and I went through in adopting our children from Guatemala, particularly as we raced against the clock that was shutting off the international adoption process for good. It then transitions into a relatively raw story on my own struggles to figure out what fatherhood truly meant and the stumbles and frustrations I required before I truly became a real husband and a real dad to my family.

The book is Dadprovement: A Journey from Careerist to Adoptive Father to Real Husband and Dad. If any Eduflack readers are interested in reading the book, and then blogging about it, please let me know and I can shoot a copy over to you. It is a quick read, and I hope you will learn a little something about what makes dear ol’ Eduflack tick.

As the publisher notes in the initial promotion,  the book provides “Inspiration for any parent wrestling with society’s expectations and acknowledging (and cherishing) what really matters…”

The best part is I am now sharing a publishing imprint with the likes of the Dali Lama and the guy who wrote Chicken Soup for the Soul. I feel like a real boy!

In the coming months, I’ll be ramping up a Dadprovement blog, which will focus on all things fatherhood and the joys and struggles of being a dad. I hope you will add it to your reading list. Check it out!


“Don’t Call Them Dropouts”

Over at GradNation, America’s Promise Alliance is running a blog series on its new report, “Don’t Call Them Dropouts.” The report is an important one, making clear there is no quick-and-dirty explanation as to why so many fail to earn their high school diplomas. More importantly, America’s Promise Alliance has launched a valuable discussion on what the report really means and how we can move its findings and observations into meaningful policy that increases high school graduation rates and pathways to success.

Eduflack was proud that he was asked to contribute to this series, and my post is up this morning. In Driving To a Better Future, I write about how we can better engage students at risk, and how it could have impacted my family.

From today’s GradNation post, in telling the story of my grandfather:

Oh, how times have changed. A high school diploma is now a non-negotiable. My grandfather would not have been able to join the Army without a high school diploma. And the chances that he would be able to buy a house and raise a family where all five of his kids would graduate from high school would be slim. 

I urge you to check out the full post, and spend some time exploring some of the other posts on the GradNation blog. It is well worth the read.


A Little Housekeeping

For those loyal Eduflack readers, you may have noticed that the blog site looks a little different these past few days. In the words of those fun-lovin’ families in the South Park movie, “Blame Canada!”

Seriously, though, for the past seven years this blog has been hosted on a GoDaddy platform. Earlier this month, GoDaddy let us know it was doing away with its blogging platform. So I am currently in the process of trying to move seven years’ worth of posts from the old site to this new Word Press site.

So bear with me. Much appreciated.

“Our School,” Our Community

When we talk about education and school improvement, we can often forget there are real schools involved in the equation. In our quest for reform, we can slip into thinking in abstraction, thinking about public education as if it were a laboratory and our changes have little, if any, impact on the educators and students who spend the majority of their time in those very buildings.

While some of my reformer friends may say this is an unfair or downright untrue statement, it is rooted in fact. The reform movement, of late, is largely about changing systems and processes. It is about administrative changes and oversights and accountability. The rest can come later, after we change how these schools “operate.”
It is because of this that we need to be reminded of the human factor in our schools, both those that excel and those that struggle. That we highlight that there are no educators or students who seek to fail or not make the grade. That we all want to see success, even if we define it differently or can’t determine how to chart the best path to get there.
That’s why we need to refocus on our schools as a community. Good or bad. Success or no. We are a community, and we are in this together.
This spring, author Sam Chaltain reminds us of this important point in his new book, Our School. Published through Teachers College Press, Our School chronicles the search “for community in the era of choice,” as Chaltain weaves a powerful narrative that looks at the experiences in real schools. He reminds us why so many of us do what we do, and why this work can be much harder than so many people seem to think.
How? The impact of this book is best captured in the words of Sir Ken Robinson, a guy who knows a thing or two about school reform and improvement and who pens Our School‘s foreword.
Our School is an important book. It brings to life, in the most vivid way, many of the issues about American education that in political debates are too often treated as abstractions. In place of the conventional rhetoric about what’s right or wrong in the nation’s schools, Sam Chaltain offers a close-up, beautifully observed account of a year in the life of just two of them. In many respects, these schools couldn’t be more different. Both are in Washington, D.C., physically close to the epicenter of American power, though in most other respects a world away from it. One is a startup charter in new premises, still working to define its identity and to catch its beat. The other is a long-established neighborhood school, filled with the memories of generations, a school where many former pupils now send their own children or grandchildren.
On these pages, Eduflack has often written about the importance of conversing, engaging, and collaborating with those that offer a differing perspective. For many years now, Sam has been one of those folks in my life. Sam and I agree on much, and strongly disagree on some. And while I may not agree with all of the conclusions he offers up in his latest book, I’m damned glad to have taken the time to read it. We all must be reminded that community, far more than policy or oversight, is what is responsible for a school’s ultimate success or failure.

“The Power of Introverts”

My name is Eduflack, and I am an introvert. While I am a highly functioning introvert, one who overcomes when need be, I can never shake being an introvert. I even come complete with a horrible stutter, another item I have overcome, but which often comes back when I get particularly worked up.

While I tend to read a great deal of things, I rarely write about them here. Instead, I focus on education politics and policy and communication. But after recently completing Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” I feel compelled to write a little.
Those who are not true introverts will never understand the real fear that comes from having to make small talk in an overpopulated room or having to be “on” for a dinner party. Just ask the eduwife, a classic extravert who has had to live with Eduflack for the past 15 years.
“Quiet” captures quite well the introvert experience. And it offers some keen observations for what it is like to be introverted and how best to deal with those of us in the club.
Among Cain’s more compelling nods:
  • Introverts often need solitude in order to be truly productive
  • Forced collaboration, even in the name of teamwork, is rarely valuable
  • Some of the best ideas come while working solo, not in those group brainstorms that folks are often so fond of
  • Some of the most dynamic, entertaining speakers and public engagers are introverts, who “act the part” to do what they care about
  • Having to speak before a crowd of hundreds is far easier than having to make small talk with a half dozen people at a cocktail party
  • Introversion is largely a matter of nature, not nurture
  • Introverts are more sure of themselves, even in the face of groupthink
  • Introverts typically only speak when they have reason to contribute. They don’t talk for talking’s sake.
Equally interesting was Cain’s remark that while introverts appreciate their alone time, they are prone to share far more about themselves via social media than their extroverted friends. 
What does all of this have to do with this blog? Not much, to be honest. But if offers some interesting food for thought as we start the summer months.