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."

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 […]


I am the one who keeps people’s spirits up when we face difficult challenges, not necessarily with cheerful “rah-rah!” but rather by embracing the unexpected. It is inevitable that our schools are going to develop in ways which we hadn’t anticipated. The world that actually arrives is never the world we expected. The challenge is […]


“There are STILL too many meetings. “I’m still not able to get my job done.” I grew up on folk music, rediscovered and revived in the 1930s by balladeers like Woody Guthrie (Arlo’s dad) and Pete Seeger — enriched with songs of the dust bowl and the labor movement. My father played guitar and sang. […]

Great Schools for Teachers and Students

I’ve been reluctant to say this out loud or in public. Embarrassment. Like it or not, might it be that schools exist to benefit and serve teachers as well as students? As if that is something to be ashamed of. There is an ethos of service (in my mind at least) that service is a […]

There Are Too Many Meetings

Attention! Master Jizo asked Hogen, “Where have you come from?”  “I pilgrimage aimlessly,” replied Hogen.  “What is the matter of your pilgrimage?” asked Jizo.  “I don’t know,” replied Hogen.  “Not knowing is the most intimate,” remarked Jizo.  At that, Hogen experienced great enlightenment.  — Case 20, from the Shōyō Roku (The Book of Equanimity). Good […]