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Moving Civics Online

It's pretty much a given these days that three-minutes-at-a-mike is a broken model for civic engagement. What's going to replace it? No one really knows, but the folks at companies like MindMixer and Peak Democracy are thinking a lot about it. Here's a profile of MindMixer in NationSwell, a new online magazine devoted to people moving the country forward.


How To Be Heard

Too many towns and cities around the country believe that the best way for citizens to participate is to come to a public hearing and maybe speak up for a couple of minutes. Thankfully, a growing number of places are discovering that they can do a lot better.


A Tale of Two Schools

What does it really take to improve struggling inner-city schools? The story of two public schools in Boston, just a mile apart but on diverging paths, shows just how complicated the task ahead will be.


GenX Reshapes Government

There are two really interesting trends in American towns and cities right now. One is a growing interest in finding ways for residents to engage meaningfully with civic and public life. The other is the passage of GenXers into mid-adulthood. I think the two are related. Let me know if you think I've made my case or not:


Carol Johnson and Boston

I've spent the last few months working on a profile of Carol Johnson, who for nearly six years has been superintendent of the public schools in Boston. All I can say about the job of running a large urban school system is, I had no idea! It's brutally complex, fast-moving, and all-consuming -- and that's before you even start tackling things like improving school quality, chipping away at the "achievement gap" that separates black and Latino students as a whole from white and Asian students, or trying to meet the challenge that good city charter schools present.

The profile just went up online. And in one of those minor nightmares that monthly magazine writers sometimes face, after the story was done but before it was published, her husband died and she decided to step down. She was kind enough to give me a head's up before the article actually went to press. Here's the interview I did with her about her resignation.