education | November 22, 2015

The Battle for American Education: Introducing New Speaker Ed Boland

When we think of tough inner-city schools, we often think of ‘hero teachers’ who miraculously ‘save’ their students. Think Dangerous Minds or Freedom WritersEd Boland left a successful position in fundraising, thinking he could be that kind of inspiration. But his dream soon met with reality: extreme poverty, racial segregation, drugs and crime and more meant Boland’s students faced insurmountable odds within a hobbled system unable to help them. Now, his life-altering experience has transformed into The Battle for Room 314: a book called “a searing indictment of reform-minded schools that claim to be progressive but still fail their students.” As a speaker, Boland’s helping to dispel teacher-student fairy tales by offering a radically honest take on what’s breaking—and what just might save—education.

Today, Boland is a senior administrator at a premier educational access program, which places gifted students of color at leading private schools. His Battle for Room 314, slated for release in February 2016 from Hachette, has already been garnering rave advance reviews. “By turns hilarious and heartbreaking,” writes Publishers Weekly, “Boland’s memoir is a deeply human story about the power of teaching.” Kirkus Reviews calls it “an unflinchingly honest account of one man’s experiences with inner-city education.” To James E. Ryan, Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the book is “a humbling reminder that no teacher is an island, and that schools, systems, and communities all share a responsibility to ensure that every child has access to a quality education.”

Boland’s keynotes are animated by vivid stories of success and failure; they’re personal and accessible talks that pull audiences right into the classroom. But personal anecdotes are merely a way for Boland to touch on much more complex (and timely) suggestions to overhaul our crumbling education system. He reminds us that it’s not up to individual teachers, or schools, to solve national issues. He touches on apartheid schools—institutions with one percent or lower white population—and the general crisis of re-segregated schools. He shows how property tax-funded schools basically ensure a two-tiered system, with the lowest-funded institutions serving as home to the poorest students. And all of this serves to flesh out the macro suggestion that poverty, immigration problems, mass incarceration, and a sub-standard minimum wage are the root problems of a broken system in dire need of repair.

In the same way that Orange Is the New Black is revitalizing the debate around prison reform, Boland is bringing a personal and transforming perspective to one of the most defining issues of our time. To book Ed Boland as the keynote speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

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exclusives | November 19, 2015