Goodbye — and Welcome

By Bill Bigelow

This is the first issue of Rethinking Schools magazine in eight years for which Jody Sokolower was not the managing editor.

Jody stepped down in April to focus on local work in the Bay Area, but will still be a contributor to the magazine.

Jody’s impact on Rethinking Schools was enormous and she helped move us in new, important directions. One of the most significant was her years-long shepherding of our book Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality, which recently won a prestigious Stonewall Book Award from the American Library Association. The project was transformative for Rethinking Schools, bringing in a wave of new writers addressing themes that for years had been underrepresented in the magazine.

Jody also solicited and nurtured writing that approached Palestine/Israel with not only sensitivity and nuance, but also with a fierce commitment to surface voices too often missing from education conversations about the Middle East. With patience and care, Jody also played a key role in drafting and redrafting our editorial in support of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.

As part of that effort to “listen for the silences” in Rethinking Schools, Jody reached out to individuals to broaden the issues we address in the magazine. Jody’s warm, insightful interviews included “Schools and the New Jim Crow” with Michelle Alexander; “Lessons in Social Justice Unionism” with Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis; and “Space for Young Black Women” with Candice Valenzuela.

One of the most delicate jobs an editor confronts is working and negotiating with writers, and moving from draft to finished article. Jody has been nothing short of magnificent in combining a keen eye for how an article can be tightened and focused with the sensitivity to maintain an article’s integrity and writer’s voice. Writers consistently reported how respected they felt throughout the editorial process and how pleased they were with the final product. No doubt this is in part due to Jody’s appreciation of what it means to be a teacher — of her grasp of what complicated work this is, and how best to share it with others.

Jody’s contribution to Rethinking Schools has been enormous. She leaves with our immense respect and affection — and we look forward to frequent contributions from her in the years ahead.

* * *

Rethinking Schools editors and staff lucked out when Ari Bloomekatz accepted our request that he become our new managing editor. Ari brings a wealth of experience to the job. Most recently he was managing editor at Tikkun, an international magazine associated with the Network of Spiritual Progressives. From 2007 to 2014 he was a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, and before that interned at the Boston Globe, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Seattle Times. Ari comes from a family of educators, and in fact, was the first student to win a seat on the Metro Nashville School Board in Tennessee.

In an interview for the Rethinking Schools Insider, Ari said, “If younger generations are going to learn how to stand up for their rights against a political system built on racism and intolerance, fight against corporations that prioritize profits over people and the environment, and build a society based on love and justice — they will do that learning in classrooms through public education led by dedicated and innovative teachers.”

In late April, a number of Rethinking Schools editors spent several days with Ari at the American Educational Research Association conference in San Antonio and were impressed by his energy, imagination, warmth, and knowledge. Oh, and did we say energy? He will work out of our offices in Milwaukee.

We are thrilled to welcome Ari Bloomekatz to Rethinking Schools.