Marilyn Rhames

Marilyn Rhames, an award-winning blogger, is a blunt Chicago teacher with an eye toward educational and spiritual reform. Photographed in Chicago, Illinois on Thursday, November 7, 2013.(Photo by Scott Strazzante)

Guest Blogger

Alumni Support Manager, Chicago Charter School

Chicago, Illinois

Marilyn Anderson Rhames has taught in district and charter schools in Chicago since 2004. She now serves as alumni support manager at a K-8 charter school, helping graduates persist through high school and on to college and careers.

Rhames authors a popular self-titled blog for Education Post. Previously, she spent four years writing the Education Week Teacher blog, Charting My Own Course, for which she won the Bammy Awards’ 2013 Commentator/Blogger of the Year. That year, online readers also voted Rhames for the Educators’ Voice Award and she went on to give a TEDx talk titled Finding the Courage to Voice the Taboo. Since then, Rhames has been a regular guest on 90.1 FM Moody Radio Chicago to provide both human and spiritual perspectives on matters concerning public education.

A 2016 Surge Institute fellow, Rhames is dedicated to promoting more diverse education leadership to improve the education of students of color. She was also a Teach Plus teaching policy fellow in Chicago from 2010 to 2012.  In 2011, Rhames founded the Christian nonprofit Teachers Who Pray, which to date has more than 70 school chapters nationwide. She believes that tapping into the spiritual nature of teaching is a key, but often missing, component to providing the highest quality of education possible. Earlier this year, Rhames edited the picture book “The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills,” a slave narrative for middle-school students.

Prior to becoming a teacher, Rhames worked as a reporter for People and Time magazines, as well as New York Newsday and The Journal-News newspapers. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and a master’s in education from National Louis University. Rhames is married to a music producer and is the mother to three children: an aspiring pianist, violinist, and singer-babbler.


Posted Mar. 22, 2017

When the Only Real Choice Is Private: My Unlikely Attraction to School Vouchers

I felt that the free education my daughter was getting was just too expensive. I needed to find a school that would start filling her academic gaps while also providing culturally responsive pedagogy.…

By Marilyn Rhames

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Posted Feb. 15, 2017

The Greatest Teaching Tool a School Can Have? Love.

Somewhere along the way, public schools stopped investing in the souls of children.…

By Marilyn Rhames

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Posted Jan. 27, 2017

I’m Frustrated by the Way Education Reformers Talk About Race and Social Justice

On January 25, I had the honor of sitting on one of two panels on “Race, Social Justice and Education…

By Marilyn Rhames

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Posted Nov. 30, 2016
Students wait outside Jenner Elementary on the first day of school on September 8, 2015. (Photo by Max Herman).

The Ogden-Jenner School Merger Should Happen. Period.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will soon make a decision that will either allow it to leverage itself as a true…

By Marilyn Rhames

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Posted July 28, 2016

There’s an Obama in My Classroom—and Yours, Too

I came home from Bible study last night and turned on the TV. The president was onstage at the Democratic…

By Marilyn Rhames

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Posted July 21, 2016

How Melania Trump Proves There’s a Writing Crisis in America

I often bemoan the fact that writing is becoming a lost art. We need to look no further than the…

By Marilyn Rhames

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Posted July 13, 2016

When Young Kids See Real People Getting Shot and Dying on TV

When I was 5 years old, my family gathered around our black-and-white TV in the living room and watched a…

By Marilyn Rhames

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Posted July 11, 2016

Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number: Education Reform Turns 25

I’m a Generation X-er, but don’t you dare call me old. I’m fairly new to the fourth decade, but I…

By Marilyn Rhames

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Posted June 23, 2016

Invisible (Wo)man: How the Struggles of Black Girls in School Go Unnoticed

I recently sat with four colleagues during a school-based professional development session on diversity. There was a Jewish woman, a…

By Marilyn Rhames

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Posted June 14, 2016

Former Teacher of the Year Battles Her School District Over Her Son With Special Needs

Adam is a 6-year-old boy with speech and learning challenges. He’s courageous, but he is hurting. His future hangs in…

By Marilyn Rhames

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Posted Mar. 30, 2017

This Mom Went to Jail Making Sure Her Son Received a High-Quality Education and She Would Do It All Over Again

It’s been five years since Tanya McDowell made national headlines after she was charged with larceny for “stealing an education” for her son. Even with some…

By Megan DeSombre

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Posted Mar. 29, 2017

Betsy, Can We Really ‘Uber’-ize Public Education? Here‘s Why That‘s a Terrible Idea.

This morning, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos delivered a keynote address at the Brookings Institution for the Center on Children and Families’ release of its fifth…

By Madison Gray

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Posted Mar. 29, 2017

Coffee Break: E4E on Entering a New Chapter and Working on Reform From the Inside Out

Recently, the teacher-led reform group Educators for Excellence (E4E) announced a rebranding that includes an updated set of core principles and a new look for…

By Peter Cunningham

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