The John Marshall Law School – Recognized for Legal Writing Training

John Marshall Law School pic

John Marshall Law School

A former legal officer and assistant superintendent of operations for Niles Township High School District 219 in the Chicago area, John Heintz leverages his knowledge and experience to write about education and legal topics at Second Rail Education. A graduate of the University of Chicago with an MBA, John Heintz works also holds a juris doctor from the John Marshall School of Law, which has been recognized for its excellent legal writing program.

The legal writing program at the John Marshall School of Law is ranked fifth in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The school maintains rigorous legal writing standards, and requires that all students take four semesters of legal drafting.

The John Marshall School of Law also supports students through its Writing Resource Center, which is overseen by a full-time writing specialist. In addition to helping first-year law students during their adjustment to the demands of legal writing, the Writing Resource Center helps students hone their writing skills during all stages of law school through individual meetings designed to take their writing to the next level. The center even helps advanced degree students and graduating students as they seek their first position in the legal field.

To learn more about the John Marshall School of Law and its Writing Resource Center, visit


Globalization of education is here. Personalization is coming.

John Heintz, school lawyer, administrator, teacher and progressive learning advocate, offers a perspective on merging these two irresistible trends. The world, Heintz explains, is already globalized.

China is leading the way in education investments. Students in China learn English. Ambitious parents understand the value of sending their child to English-speaking countries every holiday for authentic language experiences.

Globalization of education is here

Globalization of education is here.

Parents in the West are moving less quickly. Where parents in China prepare their children for a highly competitive globalized job market, parents in America hold romanticized views of the goals of education.

In his latest piece, Heintz highlights the differences in schools today. Schools are different because of increased competition. Selective college spots are more coveted, including from international students and especially competitive children from China which topped 300,000 this year.

Students experience more stress today due to the increased competition, and even parents who retreat to the formerly safe suburbs are confronting the impact of global competition. The competition is all the more cut-throat given increased academic accountability from accurate new assessments that mercilessly sort students leaving little room for consideration whether a child is nice.

Future job skills are unclear. Parents, schools and employers seek to create flexible, adaptable learners, so the narrow training curriculum of the past has disappeared. Higher education costs continue to increase disproportionately to the economy overall. Increasingly vocal are those questioning whether big student loans for big degrees carry a worthwhile return. Even in an improving global economy, salaries are not keeping pace with increasing education costs.

Parents in the US are slowly beginning to see the depth to which schools need to change. Parents in China have seen it for years. The East has an advantage over the West in that Eastern parents understand globalization and are doing their best to prepare student for it. Western parents have an advantage over the East because of the West’s open and free internet. Education needs an open society, and openness today means freedom from censorship. China’s restrictions on information hinders its parents’ attempts to prepare its children for a global future. Western openness means students explore ideas freely.

On both sides of the Pacific, schools are the hold-up. In China, schools lack the global internet needed to match parents’ global expectations. In the US, schools maintain a 1950s bell-and-seat schedule that holds learners back from learning at a time, place and pace of the learner’s choosing.

Twenty years ago, most high school English classes taught research in high school when seniors did “the research paper.” Today, students would not consider waiting until twelfth grade to perform research. They want information, and they can get it on their phones.

Personalization is coming.

Education transformation

Globalization has come, but schools have not caught up. Progressive schools worldwide are upgrading approaches to teaching and learning. Most schools maintain dated models for organizing classes, the school day, the school year and school operations, all of which will transform when embracing the opportunities presented from digital technologies.

Embracing research starts in schools. Schools with parental support to embrace curricular and operational revisions will flourish. Parents and schools need to acknowledge these few changes that will transform learning.

  • Research needs to be taught directly and at younger ages. Curricular planning needs to include evaluation of source reliability as well as giving credit to sources.
  • Research need to be taught by whatever means necessary. Students in Shanghai research on their phones. Families in China that cannot afford computers see the power of smartphones. Students in China are masters of working with thumb-typing and have been known to write entire papers on the smallest digital devices.
  • Students need to be encouraged to research with fast processors, fast internet and good online support. The hole-in-the-wall project shows kids will research and learn on their own when given the bandwidth.
  • Traditional schools try to control information flow by focusing on plagiarism. The increase in plagiarism is good news. It signals increased numbers of students conducting research. Online research is an opportunity for teaching and learning and need not to be turned into an opening to legislate punitive rules.

Change not being made is because of parents. Parents are not the sole arbiters of what schools teach, but they are the most powerful. John Heintz, former Chicago area attorney and school superintendent, and his friends at Second Rail highlight the need for schools to catch up with globalization and prepare students for the coming education transformation. Heintz makes an informed and impassioned plea for schools to change how they approach reading, writing, research and, most imperatively, learning.

The Meaning of the Eyes in The Great Gatsby


The Great Gatsby pic

The Great Gatsby

A co-founder of and senior legal consultant with Chicago-based Lydian, Inc., John Heintz served as the assistant superintendent for operations and chief legal officer for Niles Township High School District 219, within which he also functioned as an English teacher earlier in his career. John Heintz counts To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby among his favorite books.

Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925, The Great Gatsby involves fictional characters from different economic backgrounds living on Long Island, New York during the Roaring Twenties. While not particularly popular when published, the novel is now considered a literary classic. Some of the book’s prominent symbols highlight the era’s decadence and despair.

One such symbol is a billboard that overlooks the Valley of Ashes, a destitute environment between New York City and the fictional town of West Egg. The billboard features a pair forlorn eyes belonging to Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, peering over the desolate wasteland.

In one part of the book, the main character notes that the eyes are always keeping watch. In an interaction that takes place in front of a window where the billboard is visible, one person confronts an adulterer by saying that she can’t fool God. Some may conclude that the ever-present God sees everything and frowns upon the apparent greed, immorality, and selfish interactions set in the failed American Dream.

How Testing Bolsters Learning

Second Rail Education pic

Second Rail Education

A former assistant superintendent and chief legal officer with Niles Township High School District 219 in Skokie, Illinois, John Heintz is a co-founder of Lydian, a management consulting firm headquartered in Chicago. John Heintz also writes content for Second Rail Education, a blog he founded as a way to explore key educational issues in Chicago and beyond.

Critics have railed against increased standardized testing demands ever since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in the early 2000s. While standardized testing can detract from nuanced, individualized education, it is important to understand the importance of frequent testing, regardless of whether it is standardized or not.

Research has demonstrated that taking a test greatly improves the learner’s ability to retain material in the long term. According to a study performed by researchers at Washington University, the so-called “testing effect” on learning holds true even when students perform poorly on a test or receive no feedback on missed information. In the same vein, Harvard psychology professor William James famously postulated that attempts to retrieve information from memory improve retention far more than simply looking for the answer in a textbook.

One major criticism of standardized testing centers on the fact that it tests the sum total of students’ knowledge, meaning that little to no learning actually takes place. “Formative assessments,” on the other hand, are designed to expose gaps in knowledge and ultimately contribute to the learning process.

Using Technology as an Educational Tool


Technology pic


Chicago education professional John Heintz has worked in a range of roles during his career, serving as a classroom teacher, legal consultant, and education entrepreneur. Before becoming chief legal officer and assistant superintendent at Niles Township High School District 219, near Chicago, John Heintz spent more than 15 years as a language and writing educator.

In the classroom setting, technology plays an increasingly prominent role, such that the teachers of the future will likely rely on technology as an indispensable component of classroom instruction. Considering that teachers have used videos for decades, it should come as no surprise that video streaming has become a ubiquitous activity in the classroom. Educational video developers such as Khan Academy and free video lectures from Stanford University make learning more accessible than ever before. Streaming video does not have to replace classroom teaching, but it can be used to supplement important lessons.

Although social media has been well documented as an in-class distractor, it can have merit if used in the right way. Teachers can post topics for discussion and solicit responses from students, keeping them engaged in the learning process long after the bell rings. Social media also gives students an opportunity to share resources and learning strategies with each other.

Local School Funding – a Barrier to Equality in Urban Areas

John Heintz Chicago

John Heintz, Chicago

As a senior legal consultant for Chicago firm Lydian, Inc., John Heintz offers high-end management consulting services to corporate leaders. John Heintz comes from a background in education, and previously served as the assistant superintendent for operations in Niles Township High School District 219 outside Chicago. He also continues to operate Second Rail, an organization working toward success and reform in public education.

Cities such as Chicago are overflowing with talent and human capital. Their selective enrollment schools produce some of the best students in the country, but their public schools are consistently outperformed by schools in nearby suburban areas.

Funding is one key problem. The public school funding system is based on property taxes, which means that wealthy areas tend to receive the most money for education. This creates large disparities. In Illinois’ wealthier districts, schools are spending $30,000 per student per year. In less wealthy areas, that figure is closer to $8,000.

A fleeing middle class can compound this problem. When big city schools do not meet expectations, many middle-class families move to the suburbs. They take their political capital with them, leaving families who are unable to move away with even less political clout.

Some experts suggest that changing funding structures may be the best way to foster equality between urban and suburban students. Local funding and control creates major disparities, so schools in and around urban areas may be best able to flourish under a more centralized funding system.

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Melds Research and Patient Care

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab pic

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

After serving as the chief legal officer and assistant superintendent of operations for Niles Township High School District 219 near Chicago, John Heintz launched Lydian, Inc., a Chicago-based consulting firm that offers consultation on sustainability, economic development and human rights-related leadership matters. Throughout his career, John Heintz has balanced his professional pursuits with work supporting nonprofit groups such as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, which recently received a new name and celebrated the opening of a brand new facility.

Located on Chicago’s Erie Street, the $550 million Shirley Ryan AbilityLab officially opened its doors on March 25, 2017. A cutting-edge research hospital, the 1.2-million-square-foot facility features an open design that enables clinicians, researchers, and technologists to work side-by-side surrounded by the patients they are trying to help. By melding research and patient care, hospital leaders believe the facility will lead to new research that can be applied in real time.

At the heart of the AbilityLab are five Innovation Centers, each of which focuses on a specific area of biomedical science, and five working labs, where teams of researchers will focus on achieving better outcomes for patients with issues related to brain function, locomotion, hand and arm movement, stamina, and child development. The state-of-the-art research and rehabilitation space also includes 242 patient rooms as well as on-site MRI and CT facilities.