Roshi Ken (ICS President Ken Byalin) says: "I’m not a typical Zen teacher. My Zen practice manifests as social action. Integration Charter Schools is a manifestation of the practice."

Mother’s Day 2020

Mother’s Day, 2020 is also the twenty-fifth anniversary of Maezumi Roshi’s passing — my grandfather in the Dharma, in Japan to be with his mother. He had taken his mother’s name to ensure that it would live on, although he had received Dharma transmission, from his father Hakujun Kuroda Roshi, who achieved great prominence in […]

Zen Budgeting Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Business people say when they are stabbing a friend in the back, “It’s not personal. It’s just business.” It’s always personal. The COVID-19 pandemic just makes it that much more obvious. At ICS, we are always struggling to keep it personal, especially when we are dealing with ending a relationship with someone who has been […]

The Zen of Budgeting

I am too grandmotherly. The Gateless Gate is the first of four collections of koans (literally, public cases, typically records of conversations between Zen teachers and others) studied by students in the Soto tradition. That’s my lineage. Mumon, compiler of The Gateless Gate, reserved his harshest criticism for Zen teachers who are too grandmotherly. He […]

Oh, Richard.

At a Zen funeral, we talk directly to the person who has left us. Oh, Richard, thinking of you, I smile. We had so much more to do. So many memories. I knew Digna before I knew you. She was such an integral part of the Arts of Recovery and what we were trying to […]

Twenty Years

Master Sekito said, “How will you step forward from the top of a hundred-foot pole?” Another eminent master of old said, “Even though one who is sitting on the top of a hundred-foot pole has entered realization, it is not yet real. He must step forward from the top of the pole and manifest his […]

Riding the Wave — Virus Denial

Ed and Orly Wiseman recently made a film about our counseling program and how we have introduced the Steps-A Program of Jim and Liz Mazza in our schools. The Steps-A Program offers a structure for introducing students to the skills of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to improve coping and reduce risk of more serious challenges […]


Value diversity. This is not an act of tolerance- valuing diversity is so much more different than tolerating diversity.  At ICS, diversity is not simply a matter of expediency. Because the majority of our students are black and brown, we do need more black and brown people to teach and lead in our schools. That […]

Words Fail: Tactics

Nothing is permanent, everything changes. No decision, strategic choice or tactic is forever. Growing, learning and changing cannot exist without one another. Case in point, our plan is to deliver special education services. This is at the core of our strategy for integrating students with emotional and other challenges with their non-diagnosed peers. Students with […]

Words Fail: Strategy

In Zen, we say, “The past is gone; the future does not exist.” There is only the present. The rest is an illusion.  Ram Dass, a friend of my beloved mentor, Bernie Glassman, wrote a book titled Be Here Now. Bernie Glassman was my teacher. He challenged me to breathe, to be present. In true […]

Words Fail: Mission

Nothing stays the same. Nothing is forever. Everything changes. One Zen Truth. Another truth? Words are illusory, a finger pointing at the moon. The words are not the moon. Then, why speak? Because when someone points to the moon and says, “Look, the moon,” sometimes we see the moon. Ultimately, words always fail. As the Zen […]