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Jacqueline Edelberg
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Jacqueline von Edelberg has been the driving force behind the Nettelhorst School’s dramatic turn around, a story that has been featured on Oprah & Friends, The Wall Street Journal, Redbook, NPR, CNN, 60 Minutes, Education Weekly, and in the local Chicago media. She is a featured Huffington Post blogger and the co-author of How to Walk to School: Blueprint for a Neighborhood School Renaissance (with a Foreword by Arne Duncan, and an Afterword by Rahm Emanuel). She is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for Youtopia, an online engagement program that tracks, inspires and rewards civic engagement. Youtopia is a graduate of Impact Engine, and has been featured by NPR and Built-In Chicago, won the MacArthur/Gates DML competition, and reached the finals of the 1776 International Challenge Cup. Before devoting herself to writing, community activism, and social entrepreneurship, Jacqueline earned her bachelor’s degree and doctorate from the University of Chicago and taught political science at the University of Osnabrück in Germany as a Fulbright scholar. She lives in Chicago with her two children, Maya and Zack, and works out of 1871.

Entries by Jacqueline Edelberg

Boy Scout Finds Eagle Badge Somewhere Over the Rainbow

(20) Comments | Posted May 18, 2015 | 4:20 PM

With Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" blasting, students, teachers, parents and community members tied thousands of fabric strips to the schoolyard fence. After 15-year-old David Fite tied the last piece into an expert bowline -- arguably the strongest knot with the least stress to the lead line --...

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Am I Dyslexic: PARCC or CCRAP?

(2) Comments | Posted March 2, 2015 | 1:03 PM

Dear Principal Wulbert,

When I learned that Nettelhorst's Local School Council voted unanimously to let students opt out of the PARCC pilot exam--the first school in the country to do so--I was back in first grade like it was yesterday. Right before we were to sing Little Drummer...

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Launching a Startup That Outpaces Sharks

(0) Comments | Posted October 24, 2014 | 9:37 AM

The first time I watched the hit television show Shark Tank, Pat McCarthy was pitching his new product, a perfume called Money that purported to smell like freshly minted greenbacks. "The smell of money, baby! Can I get an Amen?" McCarthy calls, as scantily clad models...

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Kevin & His Skateboard: Finding Home

(2) Comments | Posted June 27, 2014 | 11:34 AM


The ink on my divorce decree was barely dry when the near-naked photo arrived in my inbox: actor/model Kevin Taejin Kreider found me on The Huffington Post and wanted to stay at my Chapter II apartment for the weekend!

Kevin's request...

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1969: When Winning the Lottery Wasn't

(2) Comments | Posted November 30, 2013 | 12:31 PM

Americans tend to remember sacred dates: the day Kennedy got shot or the Twin Towers fell. For many Boomers, there's another date with an upcoming anniversary: December 1, 1969, the night our government reinstated the draft lottery for the first time since WWII. Every able bodied male between 18 and...

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49 Schools Closed, Now What?

(18) Comments | Posted August 13, 2013 | 11:47 AM

In the midst of the current finger-pointing, vitriol, political might and gut-wrenching sadness surrounding Chicago's impending school closures, one might easily conclude that the fate of education is beyond our control. It is not.

Nine years ago, my underutilized and underperforming elementary school, Nettelhorst, was also...

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As Kids Prepare for Tests, Parents Prepare to Leave

(22) Comments | Posted March 1, 2013 | 4:26 PM

"Your job is to be a kick-ass student," I told my then-13-year-old daughter Maya. "Do that, take care of your little brother, walk the dog, and everything will turn out fine. Promise."

My darling Maya upheld her end of the bargain: straight A's, perfect attendance, gushing teacher recommendations, and...

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Dear Santa: Please Save Head Start

(0) Comments | Posted December 4, 2012 | 3:01 PM

Dear Santa,

I imagine you don't get too many letters from pre-kindergarteners who haven't held a pencil or sung the alphabet or haven't heard a bedtime story. On behalf of the five million at-risk kids under five years old, here's a giant Christmas wish: Please save Head Start. Once a...

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Can Kangaroo Dads Beat Tiger Moms?

(4) Comments | Posted October 23, 2012 | 4:04 PM

Like many parents who read Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I flogged myself for raising two perfectly perfect child generalists. I've simply lacked the discipline or will to raise a dancer like Baryshnikov, a cellist like Yo Yo Ma, a tennis player like Venus Williams, or an...

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The Second City Strikes

(4) Comments | Posted September 15, 2012 | 4:01 PM

Dad: Okay, kiddo, bedtime.
Daughter: But Daddy, I wanna stay up and watch TV.
Dad: Sorry, sweetheart, it's a school night.
Daughter: Um...strike.
Dad: Ooooooooh right---Let's watch Conan!

This was not just any Second City show. Joining main-stage actors for a spirted game of freeze...

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Back to School -- Not So Fast

(31) Comments | Posted September 4, 2012 | 12:34 PM

Last week, on the very same morning Karen Lewis announced a ten-day strike notice, Abby at Crosstown Tree Service texted that a truckload of woodchips was speeding our way. Over the past four years, parents have been working like gangbusters to transform a narrow stretch along the side...

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Happy Summer! Please Don't Strike (Updated)

(80) Comments | Posted June 10, 2012 | 7:37 PM

Let's be clear: I love, love, l-o-v-e teachers. The teachers at my kids' neighborhood elementary school, Nettelhorst, individually, and collectively, represent everything that's right with public education. So much so, I'd put their education on par with any private school in this country -- our teachers are that...

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International Walk to School Day, Everyday

(16) Comments | Posted October 2, 2011 | 3:13 PM

Tell anyone over fifty that October fifth is International Walk to School Day, the highlight of an entire month devoted to the concept, and you'll likely get back a blank stare, furrowed brow, or outright laughter. "Nonsense," they'll tsk-tsk, "In my day, we walked ten miles, uphill, both...

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My Husband Came Back, Now What?

(297) Comments | Posted July 8, 2011 | 8:30 AM

There comes a point for every world traveler, however adventurous, when you wake up in your hut (or tent or yurt), and think, "Gosh, I would love to make waffles." Then, you catalogue all the stuff you'd need to pull off waffles--the iron, the mix, the whisk, the plate, the...

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Real Rahm, Fake Rahm, and Louder Than A Bomb

(1) Comments | Posted March 21, 2011 | 5:00 PM

When the real Rahm Emanuel offered the fake Rahm Emanuel $5,000 to reveal himself, it was anybody's guess who the doppelganger was, or which charity would get the cash.

Thanks to the magic of Colbert, the whole country now knows that Columbia College journalism professor Dan Sinker...

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If Gov. Walker Thinks Wisconsin's Illinois, Dream On

(27) Comments | Posted March 11, 2011 | 6:19 PM

Governor Scott Walker thinks that Wisconsin's a giant domino that's going to tumble over into Illinois, as evidenced by my state's proposed Performance Counts legislation; um, don't bet on it. While our law would tweak the collective bargaining process, it does not eliminate the teachers' right to bargain...

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It Gets Better, Starting in Elementary School

(1) Comments | Posted March 8, 2011 | 10:25 AM

As Governor Quinn signed historic anti-bullying legislation at Nettelhorst, my neighborhood's public elementary school last summer, it came as no surprise when Unabridged, our beloved independent bookstore across the street, asked us to host their upcoming discussion for the release of It...

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'Lunch Line' Documentary Spurs Food Fight in Chicago

(1) Comments | Posted February 22, 2011 | 10:09 AM

Last night, my little public elementary school, Nettelhorst, hosted a public screening of the powerful new documentary Lunch Line, which follows six Chicago high school kids as they set out to fix school lunches --ending up at the White House. But the real drama began after...

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Chicago Schools Serve Up Breakfast, But Not Everyone's Happy

(41) Comments | Posted February 3, 2011 | 5:26 PM

The food mega-giant, Chartwells Thompson, just won a ginormous contract from the federal government contract to provide a free breakfast to every single Chicago Public School student. For the nation's third largest school system, that's over 410,000 breakfasts served, every single day. We know that hungry kids can't...

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Great Teaching: Not Just a Good Idea, It's the Law (Almost)

(67) Comments | Posted January 9, 2011 | 1:06 PM

In the hothouse terrarium that is Chicago politics, a stormy debate over teacher accountability is looming large.

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that a quality classroom teacher is the single most important school based input-factor in student performance and lifetime achievement. The evidence has been mounting...

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