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12 Blogs I Loved In 2012

by Jose Vilson on December 30, 2012

in Short Notes


In my short notes series, I like to share things I’ve read from around the web, usually parsed out from the plethora of things I pick up on my social media networks. At times, I find gems that keep me coming back for more. The following list have been reliable sources for pieces to share all year. I’ve had some of these in my Google reader since I started blogging, and some of these are relatively new to me. Either way, check them out and tell them I sent you:

In no particular order:


Maria Popova’s blog continues to be a source of inspiration for my writing. The curation of pieces is top notch.

NYC Educator

Not that people don’t already laud him for his blog, but recently, it feels like everyone’s talking about his blog. Y’all late, though. He’s always had good material.


If I ever wanted to know the real deal with Chicago Public Schools, especially around the Chicago strike, I go to Fred Klonsky’s blog.


Renee Moore pushes people to see past the left-right debate and look at what’s wrong with our education system. She’s like my blogging big sister.

Bastard Swordsman

Dart Adams’ blog reminds me of those conversations my boys used to have while listening to Gangstarr and A Tribe Called Quest. Worth every read.

Practical Theory

An administrator blog shows up on my list. Chris Lehmann’s blog has the soul of a man. His triumphs and tribulations pushed his writing into another stratosphere in 2012.

GOOD Education

At some point this year, GOOD decided to go in a whole different direction with their blog, controversially firing some of their most popular writers and inciting a few flames thrown through various blogs that I respect. Yet, Liz Dwyer’s writing seemed (pardon the pun) unchained in the aftermath. Before she got busy inviting some of us to write, her own postings sung to my pro-public leanings. She was worth every read this year.

Daniel Willingham

Dr. Willingham has always found a way to engage me in the research, most famously through his video on multiple intelligences. Nowadays, he runs a blog that has found its way into many an educator’s blog reader.

Hack Education

Audrey Watters loves kicking education technology in the pants. Necessary in a world where the ed-techers would rather raise their numbers than build solutions for education.

Education Rethink

Recently, John T. Spencer got an award for “Annoying Person who actually makes you question your teaching in a positive way Award.” I snickered. If anything, his blog demands you rethink your argument. Time and again.

Eva Haldane

This year, I saw too many of my closest colleagues drop their blogs for different reasons. Some did it for professional reasons, other personal. Few of us stuck around to keep sharing our thoughts. Eva was one of them. Her journey through the last year of her dissertation while fighting her own battles have shaken me to do better day after day.

The Smithian / Danamo

Writer / editor Danyel Smith’s Tumblr curates at a breakneck speed, her interests consolidated and parsed so finely, you wonder how she puts it all together.

These twelve always find their way into my consciousness and here’s hoping they find their way into yours. Thank you to these twelve plus the plethora of others I comment on regularly. You’ve made 2012 awesome. Do you have any favorites?

Jose, who wants to promote more quality Latino/a education-related blogs …


AP: Jay-Z Signs Math Educator Jovan Miles to Roc Nation

by Jose Vilson on October 8, 2012

in Jose

Math Educator Jovan Miles

Somewhere in the future …

For the casual music fans, it’s easy to see why one might get confused looking at the initial Roc Nation artists. Jay-Z. J-Cole. Jay Electronica. The trifecta of J’s (and Willow Smith) have had their share of success either from the underground circuit to the international stage (in varying degrees). Yet, none of them have what the latest “J” has: the attention of classrooms for a whole city.

Enter Jovan Miles.

After another successful Roc Nation concert, the head honcho held a press conference at Phillips Arena to announce the formal signing of hometown hero Jovan Miles: a math academic coach and educator working out of Atlanta, GA. The signing marks the first time a record label has signed an educator to a major rap label of Roc Nation’s stature, and this event certainly didn’t go unnoticed. The press room had an audience equal parts media, politicians, business heads, parents, superintendents, and Jovan’s favorite constituency: his former and present students from the various classrooms he affected as teacher and academic coach for schools throughout Atlanta.

Jay-Z extolled the virtues of getting an education, stating that his primary purpose for the signing was to “ensure that more Black kids didn’t get the experience I did back in high school. Lots goes into the job, but we’re happy we can help.” His educational endeavors through his Shawn Carter Foundation only seemed focused on college, but with this statement, he may have rethought his strategy for philanthropy. Asked about the language of the contract, Jay-Z said, “Oh, it’s nothing like an artist contract. Think about it like a grant. Yeah, I called myself the Kennedy of the game, but now call me the MacArthur of the game, too. Genius.”

That drew laughs from the crowd.

Asked about the signing, Miles calls it a blessing. “It’s about time teachers get recognized for the things they do as professionals and not just the people entrusted in children’s future. Especially with what’s going on in Atlanta, I gotta thank Jay and the Roc for putting me on.” A journalist yelled out whether he would use the monies to get a Roc-A-Fella chain, he paused, then said, “Nah, I got kids to feed!” The crowd erupted, specifically his students who have had their slice of the Miles Experience.

“This is a big freakin’ deal!” said Elliott Wilson, editor of Rap Radar and former editor of XXL Magazine. “I’m usually not astounded by something Jay does, but this puts him over here,” waving his hand just above eye level. “See here? He’s past most rap philanthropists. And wannabes. Ha!”

“What you notice immediately about Jovan is his passion for teaching math,” added Danyel Smith, editor and author of She Is Every Woman. “If only most of my math teachers had that sort of passion, I probably would have liked math a bit more. Especially a Black male teacher? Hard to come by. We’ve always had guys like KRS-One and Poor Righteous Teachers who use the ‘teaching’ as an analogy, but an actual teacher signing? Awesome!”

Jovan Miles has a reputation for engaging as both students and educators alike, and his potential for national recognition might have been the key to his signing. Jose Vilson, fellow math educator in New York City, commented, “This might change the conversation some. No longer can we try to separate the art and science of teaching from lives as professionals. Now we got one person who got their money right; the others have to follow.” Asked if he may get signed to a label with a similar contract, “That might be nice, but do you think it’d be kinda weird having five J’s under the same roof? Who knows?”

While education reformers like Michelle Rhee couldn’t be reached for comment, it’s safe to say that critics have found such a contract somewhat inappropriate. “I think you can’t just throw money at the problem,” said Jonah Edelman of Stand for Children. “I get that he’s getting money, but why doesn’t the money go to the kids? Wu-Tang is for the children; why isn’t he?” He then retreated before we could ask about his more than five million dollar non-profit and his recent failure in Chicago.

The lights shone so bright at the press conference, Jovan in his patented argyle sweater vest, glistened through the Q&A session. The most charming moment may have come at the end when a student shouted to Jay-Z, “Give us a freestyle!” to which Jay replied, “Jovan, go in.”

“It’s Jovan Miles, forget all the imposters.
I’m so sick, I think I might need a doctor.
Look at the things I’ve done without a doctorate
Without the Doctor, without the beat, I’m still a monster.
Still drop the theorems worse than Pythagorean
First it was classrooms, now it’s coliseums
Museums where I took my students now is where you see em
First, they diss the kid and now they wanna be him …

OK, that’s all I got.”

“I can’t remember the last time I got an applause in the classroom. Whenever that was,” said Dr. Steve Perry, principal of Capital Preparatory School in Hartford, CT. But Jovan’s obviously not about that, at least that’s what we surmise from the kids who hugged him afterwards.

Jose, who doesn’t think anyone knew I would do this …

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