This Is Me - The Jose Vilson

This Is Me

May 27, 2013


José Luis Vilson is a math educator for a middle school in the Inwood / Washington Heights neighborhood of New York, NY. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in mathematics education from the City College of New York. He’s also a committed writer, activist, web designer, and father.

His first solo project, This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and the Future of Education, was published by Haymarket Books in the Spring of 2014, which was endorsed by American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, NYU professor Diane Ravitch, and Philadelphia principal and White House Champion of Change Chris Lehmann.

He currently serves as the president emeritus of the Latino Alumni Network of Syracuse University and as a board member on the Board of Directors for the Center for Teaching Quality. He writes regularly for Edutopia and TransformED / Future of Teaching, and has contributed to The New York Times,, Education Week, Huffington Post, and El Diario / La Prensa NY. He has also been featured at PBS, Mashable, Idealist, Chalkbeat NY, TakePart, Manhattan Times, and the National Journal. He co-authored the book Teaching 2030: What We Must Do For Our Students and Public Schools … Now and In The Future with Dr. Barnett Berry and 11 other accomplished teachers, and profiled in two other books: Teacherpreneurs (Berry, Byrd, Weider; 2013) and Teaching with Heart (Scribner, Intrator; 2014).

He was named one of GOOD Inc.’s GOOD100 in 2013 of leaders changing their worlds and an Aspen Ideas Scholar in 2013. He has also spoken at TEDxNYED, Education Writers Association Annual Conference, Netroots Nation, and the Save Our Schools March. His blog,, is well-regarded, named one of the top 25 Education Blogs by Scholastic, Education World, and University of Southern California Rossier School of Education’s Teach 100.

To contact him, click here.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

John Chew July 29, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Hi Jose -
I am a former NYC Teaching Fellow (cohort 6). I spent close to 5 years in the program and taught 4th and 6th grade in the South Bronx. I really like your blog, and look forward to reading some of the older entries.

All the best,
John Chew


Jose August 3, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Thanks, John. I honestly appreciate it. Hope to be in contact with you soon.


Melissa Meza de Melkonian October 6, 2010 at 8:01 am

I’m really diggin’ your work. I always have, but like fine wine, it is getting better with age.


Asad January 17, 2011 at 11:51 am

Just came across your site via another blogroll, and Im feelin it. I hope you will return the favor and give me some constructive criticism on my site (! Stay in touch!


Renee Coates-Smith March 21, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Thanks for taking a stand.


Rasha May 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm

You are truly an inspiration with your refreshingly insightful blogs. I hope to be as passionate and dedicated as you when I have my own students to teach, in the near future.

Looking forward to reading more from you.

Rasha Khalil


Victoria June 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I am very inspired that you are so passionate about helping to improve the education system and are committed to teaching in an urban area. As a pre-service teacher, I am very interested in teaching in an urban area, and find your blog very helpful and insightful. I also enjoy how you incorporate poetry to describe your life and work.

Thank you


Jose June 1, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Victoria, thanks so much! Congrats on becoming a teacher. Let me know how that goes in your journey.


John Chase June 18, 2011 at 7:45 am

Hey Jose, thanks very much for your tireless efforts on behalf of students and educators, you are a great teacher and role model!

Thought you would also appreciate this commentary about the perils and pitfalls of standardized testing that I wrote almost a decade ago and unfortunately still relevant today…



Laura Moin July 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I came across your blog while searching for the Top 20 Teachers’ Blogs. I work for the National Science Digital Library (NSDL), which is an NSF-funded open online digital library of high quality science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resource for educators and learners.
I want to invite you to explore the NSDL ( and if you consider it appropriate to put a link to it on your blog. I am sure your colleagues, teachers, students, and parents would highly benefit from accessing these free resources and curated collections.
I am adding here just two of the hundred thousands resources you will find in NSDL. These ones are bilingual math resources.
Please, do not hesitate to contact me (email or phone) and I would be more than happy to provide you with more guidance for effectively using

Best regards,

Laura J. Moin, Ph.D.
Outreach and Professional Development Manager

Technology PoW
Technology Problems of the Week (tPoWs) are problem-solving challenges that take advantage of interactive mathematics tools such as Java applets or spreadsheets. Students may submit their answers to share their solutions, and then self-mentor using hints, checks, and suggestions for extensions.
Dave’s Math Tables is an excellent mathematical resource. The mathematical reference tables include General Math, Algebra, Geometry, Odds and Ends, Trigonometry, Calculus, Statistics, and Advanced Topics. In addition, the site features an interactive area for posting and answering mathematical questions and a list of related Internet resources.


Danielle August 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Hey ,

I just read “New York Times: Future Schools Don’t Have Many Teachers In Them” and loved it! Would it be okay if I used a portion of the post for a new blog post my writing team would be creating in the future?


Danielle Kim


Jose August 25, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Danielle, by all means. Thanks. Just link me whenever it’s done.


rachel November 29, 2011 at 12:40 am

I’m just reading on, learning from achievers like you … God has indeed blessed you with the skills, talents and opportunities to glorify Him. Thanks for sharing them and God bless you more! Keep it up with your faith.


Jose November 29, 2011 at 9:23 pm

rachel, thanks a million.


John Chase November 30, 2011 at 6:25 am

Thanks again for your inspiration and leadership…thought you would appreciate this 9/11 and volunteerism learning activity that incorporates music and technology…


The Wise One December 6, 2011 at 4:13 pm

A “Mapou” tree has fallen; Now where will all the birds rest?

She deserves the highest of honors. In Heaven you’ll have full citizenship.

R.I.P Sonia


History Buff November 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm

One of Quisqueya’s finest sons.

Growing up in a family of intellectuals, I was always familiar with the Dumas family history and their roots in Haiti. Alexandre Dumas is one of the most beloved and the most widely read of all “French” writers but very few outside of Haiti know about his father, this great man, the “original Dumas”. Indeed most French people are unaware of Alexandre Dumas the writer’s African origins. This is why a couple of years ago a scandal broke in France when Gerard Depardieu was cast to play Dumas in a french movie. The minority community there revolted.

Now Tom Reiss shows how he was the inspiration for all those great stories that fascinated so many of us during our childhood.

But Reiss is not the first to write about this great man; Claude Ribbe also wrote about Alexandre Dumas, Père in “Le Diable Noir” :


alison January 22, 2013 at 11:50 pm

hi, I teach middle school math and reading a lot of your posts had me tearing.. I actually concentrated on my final project for my masters in teaching math for social justice. I read a lot of eric gutstein and inspired me. I hope to maybe share ideas and experiences of possible. Thanks for thoughts


Rebeca Lozano February 9, 2013 at 1:39 am

Hola Jose!

I love your blog, lot of good readings and links. I am living my first years teaching and despite I have decided very passionate to be a teacher there are days that I come back home super frustrating. Then I see in my mail inbox your blog news and then I read and I think ….. this is a special a marvelous profession this is what I really want to do, I love it, I love to share want kids and the future generations whatever I have for sharing, my knowledge, my experience my values, etc… and I say to myself keep on reading, learning as your were one of your students and you will get it. Be patient. Thank you so much for your words and your precious time that you give us. Rebeca


gigi guidice June 20, 2013 at 4:15 am

What are your thoughts on common core?


nikki stevens October 29, 2013 at 12:19 am

We need to bring prayer back to public schools. Prayers are free and no one can get rich off of it. State tests, Frameworks and etc are not in the best interest of the students, they are money makers for companies and individuals.


Yenny November 4, 2013 at 6:34 am

Hello, Mr. Vilson!

I am a college student currently working towards a degree in secondary English education in NJ and I just had the pleasure of discovering your site. I look forward to seeing more of your work and thank you so much for everything you do. Although I’m set in my desire to be an educator, I know the difficulties that can come with it, and I do occasionally find myself wavering in my resolve. Listening to folks such as yourself is a great motivator!

I am also the president of my university’s Education Association, which is in lieu with the statewide organization for professional development. I hope I can someday interest you in coming in as a guest speaker for my fellow future educators.

All the best,


science November 29, 2013 at 2:03 pm

You Are Incorrect.


science November 29, 2013 at 2:07 pm

In reply to nikki stevens.


nikki stevens November 30, 2013 at 9:34 am

America is a nation that has turned her back against God. Our government loves and financially support wars. America’s powerful government enjoys hurting the poor and middle class regardless of color, but especially Blacks and Hispanics. Now people are angry because Duncan made a a horrible statement against white moms and their children. Well he has been calling urban students stupid everytime he calls their schools failing schools for years. I appalled suburban moms for standing up against common core standards, testing and his remark against your children. I only wish black moms and dads would stand and stop letting him call their children stupid and closing their public schools. But there are two issues here. First, teachers, administrators and parents should have read the NCLB law years ago and fought against it years ago, it basically predicted what is happening now. Plus suburban parents watched the horror of urban school closing and charter schools taking over because the government called them failing schools. But most of us understands that the government wants to stop funding public schools in America and sell them to corporations and the government knows it is easier to do it in cities first because urban parents wouldn’t fight back. Especially if the charter school is giving them a free laptop, nook, paying for their internet, has extended school hours and lots of activities. Now they are coming after the suburban school, if they came for urban schools in the morning you should have known they would be coming for your schools at night. NCLB is and always has been a failure, but there was no outcry. NCLB, Common Core Standards, Charlotte Danielson Framework, Student Growth Objective, the new test coming soon and all the other stuff outsiders are creating are making the creators of these thing rich and public schools will be going financially broke. The government goal is to financially break public schools, suburban parents are tired of their property taxes going up , cities have no money, and close all public schools and sell them to the highest bidders. Yes suburbia, the government wants your school too. Teachers, administrators, parents and even students should have fought and we need to stand and fight not because Pres. Obama a black man is president. We need to fight together because NCLB should never have been passed and it needs to be completely abolished. Arne Duncan needs to step down, Pres. Obama, the democrats and republicans needs to stop arguing with each other and do a search for a new secretary who cares about our students and not corporations. Then they need to do a survey to ask teachers, administrators, parents and students ther ideas. The government then needs to form a panels of parents, teachers, students and administrators to work with them to come up with an educational policy that will be able to create creative thinkers in the classroom who would eventually become doctors, engineers, lawyers, etc. And lastly, prayer needs to return to public schools. When we go to church we pray, but when our children go to public schools they can not pray. Remember the absence of God brings chaos, and it is chaos going on with our public schools because our past and present leaders should have prayed first and returned prayer back to public schools.


Jose Berríos December 28, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Coming from teaching in the roughest ghettos in my beloved Puerto Rico, I feel you. We will succeed because I’m “confident in the victory of good over evil” (Marley). You and I have the same style of mixing up the classics with modern urbanosophy. The sincere has no boundaries, and those who get it, understand true ingenuity comes from anywhere. Look forward to collaborating. Paz y Amor


JoAnn Flejszar March 14, 2014 at 2:27 pm

On a day when I needed to continue to believe that public education will survive and those of us in the classroom truly do a good job and make a difference to all kids, I came across a tweet by Luann Lee talking about your upcoming book release “This is Not a Test!” I responded to her tweet by suggesting a book study Twitter group. Thank you for tweeting back with your support. I cannot wait to have a meaningful discussion about what it means to teach and have lasting impact on students lives who deserve it just as much as those students who come from wealth and privilege. You are a breath of fresh air and have led me to a group of people who continue to believe in public education.


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