John Marshall Law School graduate John Heintz has worked in a variety of positions throughout the state of Illinois, including chief legal officer with Niles Township High School District 219 in Skokie, and as an attorney with Chicago education law firms such as Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, Chtd. When he is not working with school districts in and around Chicago, John Heintz enjoys reading classic literature such as The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird.
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, has long been considered one of the finest novels in the American literary canon. In particular, the book has been remembered for its elegant, affecting closing lines, the last of which reads: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” One could argue the line is Fitzgerald’s single most revered piece of writing, as the sentence has been inscribed on the author’s headstone in Rockville, Maryland, and has been praised by countless critics, organizations, and writers.
The line, which was named the third best closing line to a novel by the American Book Review, is specifically praised for its beauty, complexity, and effortless ability to unify the novel’s various subjects and themes. Specific interpretations of Fitzgerald’s ending vary, but many cite the closing line’s evocation of both limitless optimism for the future and melancholic reflection of the past. According to the American Book Review, the ending of The Great Gatsby edged out that of the likes of Ulysses by James Joyce and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, falling only behind Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable.
Second Rail Education
John Heintz, the founder of Chicago-based management consulting firm Lydian, Inc., is an attorney and educator with wide-ranging interests in education and the law. John Heintz, a Chicago resident, applies his 25 years of experience to advocacy for educational transformation through Second Rail Education, an organization he founded to mitigate inequalities in education funding, particularly as they affect students in low-income school districts.
Second Rail Education seeks to improve education across geographic, demographic, national, and political boundaries. The organization plans to do this by disseminating information relevant to educators and lawmakers, and linking entrepreneurs, educators, and other leaders to comprehensive solutions devised by the Second Rail Education team, which includes educators, attorneys, economists, and other experts from both for-profit and nonprofit sectors.
Second Rail and other education organizations may play an important role in the changing face of public education resulting from the recent appointment of Betsy DeVos as head of the US Department of Education. Mrs. DeVos has said she favors school choice for parents and students. School choice would allow parents to enroll their children in charter schools, possibly outside of their school districts.
Arguments for and against this anticipated change center on the effectiveness of public education, addressed in the past two presidential administrations’ “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” initiatives. An article recently published in the Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ), “School Transformation Hasn’t Worked – Isn’t That Reason Enough to Stop?” says that these initiatives were informed by the belief that schools failed because they were poorly run or poorly staffed. NPQ says that the proven impact of poverty on learning has been ignored.
John Heintz, Chicago
Currently guiding the Chicago consultancy Second Rail, John Heintz has past experience as assistant superintendent and chief legal officer of Niles Township High School District 219. Focused on ways of improving organizational performance and student achievement in Chicago, John Heintz authors regular blog articles on the Second Rail website.
In one recent piece, Mr. Heintz looked at ways in which transformation can occur in the educational realm. Unfortunately, the “what-was-good-enough-for-me-is-good-enough-for-my-children” syndrome stands squarely in the way of change. One aspect of the equation Mr. Heintz draws attention to is the pension crisis and a system that is rife with excesses.
Mr. Heintz proposes a simple solution, that of requiring all parties with financial exposure to sit at the table during negotiations. In Illinois, only school boards and teachers’ unions work out arrangements, with the state government that actually pays the pensions having no negotiating authority.
As the state cannot “go out of business,” the stultifying situation arises where the teacher’s pension is secure and there is no real motivating force for innovation in the way things are done. When the rewards educational employees accrue do not correlate with merit, risk taking is not encouraged and stagnancy easily sets in.
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
John Heintz’ former roles in education include serving as assistant superintendent for operations and chief legal officer of Niles Township High School District 219. Outside of his current professional responsibilities, John Heintz supports the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, an organization that undertakes cutting-edge research into neuroscience and bionic and musculoskeletal medicine.
Recently, individuals at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago unveiled a new 3D imaging technique that could help make muscle disease and injury treatment more effective. About 20 million Americans struggle with these conditions, which encompass diseases such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy and injuries such as rotator cuff tears.
Using 3D rather than 2D imaging techniques, clinicians identified strange patterns of collagen structures within muscle tissue for the first time. Standard 2D imaging techniques had only shown collagen outside of the muscle. The discovery of highly organized chains of collagen within muscle could point to new ways of treating muscle diseases and injuries.
In patients that had developed fibrosis, the number of collagen cables was much higher than normal, suggesting that they may play a role in the development of disease. Reducing the amount of collagen in muscles could reduce pain and possibly eliminate the need for surgical intervention.
John Heintz, Chicago
Based in Chicago, John Heintz is a thought leader in the Chicago and global educational sphere. With teaching and administrative experience that includes serving as the chief legal officer at Niles Township High School District 219, John Heintz currently leads the innovation-focused consulting firm Second Rail. In late 2016, the Second Rail site featured a blog article on the topic “When Will Chicago Schools Outperform the Suburbs?”
This turned out to be a trick question, as the top-performing urban schools consistently outperform schools in even the most desirable Chicago suburbs by a wide margin. Unfortunately, this commonly asked question masks the reality that for many Chicago students the odds of securing a spot at Harvard University are higher than gaining admittance to prestigious and selective large-city schools like Northside College Prep.
Navigating schools in large city school systems is challenging, with nearly every aspect of the academic experience less well funded resulting in significant challenges for parents unwilling or unable to move to the suburbs. While annual spending per student at poor schools in Illinois averages $8,000, spending at the wealthiest public schools can approach $30,000. At the core of this problem is a system in which local districts control the allocation of funds. This will change only when legislators find the willpower to mandate the elimination of these inequalities.
John Heintz, Chicago
A graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, John Heintz recently served as assistant superintendent of operations and chief legal officer at Niles Township High School District 219 in Skokie, a suburb of Chicago. Now leading Second Rail Education, John Heintz consults on educational matters and writes about education-related topics. In a recent article, he discussed the disparity in educational quality between Chicago schools and the city’s suburban schools.
Although the best schools in Chicago outperform many suburban schools, including those in wealthy districts, the overall quality of education in the suburbs is greater than the quality of education in Chicago schools. Among the reasons for this difference is the tendency of middle-class parents to move their families to the suburbs, leaving parents in the city with less political power to demand better schools.
Another problem is the disparity in spending between wealthy suburban districts and city schools. Chicago has one of the most inequitable school systems in the United States. Some of the wealthiest suburban districts spend nearly $30,000 per student each year, whereas disadvantaged districts spend only about $8,000 per student. For city schools to catch up to suburban schools in terms of quality, legislators have to tackle the problem of inequitable funding and enable all urban students, not just those at selective charter schools, to obtain an excellent education.
Donnelley Ethics Program
The co-founder and senior legal consultant at Lydian, Inc., in Chicago, John A. Heintz also served as chief legal officer and assistant superintendent for operations for Niles Township High School District 219 in Skokie, Illinois. John Heintz also has contributed time and money to a number of nonprofits, including serving as a member of the Foundation Board of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC).
Designed to ensure high-quality care for disabled patients, the Donnelley Ethics Program at RIC offers consultations on clinical ethics and education to staff working in the field. It also consults on research ethics for journal clubs and conferences. A hospital ethics committee deals with ethical concerns in policies and resources, and an accreditation and quality improvement portion explores such issues as patients’ rights.
Named for mentor Strachan Donnelley, the Donnelley Ethics Program began in the 1960s, and was officially founded at RIC in 1995 with its first director, Kristi Kirschner, MD. Since its inception, the ethics program has trained scores of health care professionals in a variety of disciplines. The program is employed at RIC’s Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.