Joe Nathan

Guest Blogger

Director, Center for School Change

St. Paul, Minnesota

Joe Nathan, Ph.D., helped write the nation’s first charter public school law. Legislators and governors in more than 25 states have asked him to testify and provide information about chartering and other school improvement issues. Nathan has spent the last 44 years as a public school teacher, administrator, parent, researcher and advocate. Parent, student & professional groups have given him a variety of awards for his work as an inner city public school teacher and administrator. For nearly 30 years, he has written a weekly newspaper column in Minnesota focusing on education issues.

Since 1988, Nathan has directed the Center for School Change. The Center works at the school, community and policy levels. It has raised more than $30 million from the Annenberg, Blandin, Bremer, Cargill, Carlson, Carnegie, Bill and Melinda Gates, Rockefeller, Minneapolis, St Paul, Kaufman, Target, Travelers and other foundations, as well as the US and Minnesota Departments of Education.

Among other accomplishments, Nathan directed a project (with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) in the Cincinnati Public Schools that increased overall high school graduation rates by more than 25 percentage points and eliminated the high school graduation gap between white and African American students over a seven-year period. He has helped create district and charter public school options in a number of states.

Nathan earned a B.A. from Carleton College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He has been married for 41 years to a recently retired (after 33 years) public school teacher, and he has three children and five grandchildren.

RECENT POSTS

Posted Feb. 5, 2020

Minnesota’s Bill Wilson Walked His Talk About Improving Schools for Families. Now It’s Our Turn.

Nothing stopped Bill Wilson. From the time he was bused past three schools because he was African American, to the day…

By Joe Nathan

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Posted Oct. 3, 2019

This Fight Isn’t About Charter Schools, It’s About Justice for Our Students

“We’re in the fight of our lives,” according to a number of chartered public school educators with whom I met…

By Joe Nathan

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Posted Aug. 11, 2017

School Choice Isn’t Just Something That Parents Want, It’s a Human Right

School choice critics are ignoring one of the world’s most progressive documents which strongly endorses parent rights to choose the…

By Joe Nathan

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Posted June 8, 2017

Test Scores Are Important But I Wish Fordham Would Have Looked at What Else Matters to Parents and Community Members

One of the most important questions in education is: How will students and schools—district and chartered—be evaluated? While well intentioned,…

By Joe Nathan

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Posted Mar. 16, 2017

4 Years Ago a Mom Wrote Me About Her Son With Special Needs Struggling in a District School. Here’s Where He Is Now.

Leah Stanger has an encouraging story about her son that I wish every politician, parent and educator in the country…

By Joe Nathan

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Posted Aug. 8, 2016

What We Can Learn From Listening to Parents and Students

One of the best suggestions I heard during the more than 30 years that I taught came from a principal…

By Joe Nathan

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Posted July 18, 2016

John King Jr. Has Some Good Advice for Charter Schools

On June 28, U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr. gave one of the most powerful compliments to teachers that…

By Joe Nathan

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Posted Nov. 30, 2015

Teacher-Led Schools: A Rare Point of Agreement for District, Union and Charter Advocates

When people who sometimes strongly disagree find something significant they like, it’s worth noting. One of those ideas drew more…

By Joe Nathan

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Posted May 22, 2020

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By Joan Hurley

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Posted May 22, 2020

For My Family, Seeing Their First-Gen Latina Daughter Walk Across the Stage Would Have Been Everything

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By Karen Balbuena

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Posted May 22, 2020

Reopening Schools While Coronavirus Is Still on the Loose Is Ass-Backward

I swear this country is ass-backward. In last week’s Senate hearing, Dr. Anthony Fauci—the nation’s leading expert on the coronavirus pandemic—said outright, “… states will…

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