Educating for the Future

John Heintz Chicago

Street sweepers in Shanghai offer a hint at the economics of China’s job market. The average income in Shanghai is under $15,000 per year. Street sweepers make less than that. Compare the life of these workers to the fact that I rarely see a car on Shanghai’s streets less than three years old. For every Chevrolet, Ford or Honda I see, there are twenty BMWs, Teslas and Bentleys.  I am not kidding that almost all cars are new, top of the line luxury brands. You will notice if it you’re in Shanghai. It’s not just a few cars that are old, there are no cars that are old. Why the luxury cars with such small incomes?

The economic answer is pretty simple. In a country of 1.4 billion, if even a small percentage of the population is rich, it’s still a lot of people. These are China’s Average Wealthy. They reside mostly in Shanghai, Beijing and the cities of 10-million-plus like Suzhou surrounding those first-tier cities. Job salaries don’t matter much for the Average Wealthy. They got most of their money from real estate. The government came in, paid a boatload for previously worthless property so the government could build a factory, and suddenly the poor became rich. Buy a new apartment and get bought out by the government again, and the rich become very rich. Wealth from real estate creates odd side effects.

Driving a luxury car in Shanghai doesn’t signal one is educated, professional, career-advanced or particularly capitalist. China’s Average Wealthy wear some of the worst Gucci I’ve ever seen – like white onesies patterned with the Gucci logo from toe to neck. Since all this money is from real estate, it’s not from people getting great incomes from great jobs earned after great educations. For the generation of China’s children who were sent to North America for their educations, incomes are still not great. Twenty-somethings return to China fluent in English and with a solid American education. Many return to China and don’t need to work. Some work good jobs for the family business, and some continue to live off the former sale of a single grandparents’ apartment. A professional class is growing, but even for China’s well-educated kids, most aren’t earning incomes anywhere near at par with their equally-educated western counterparts.

It makes me wonder about jobs. Jobs mean income, and income is not wealth. Thomas Piketty summarized the income gap well using data mostly from Europe and the US, but the trend is consistent worldwide. Capital is growing while incomes are falling.

I wonder about kids in China, the US and worldwide. Globalism has pulled much of the world out of poverty, but it’s increased the income gap. What work all our kids will do in the future is a big question for me.

Working in education, I need a longer-term answer. The benefits of education accrue over decades or even lifetimes. Some students need real job training while others need a broad education they can apply to new as-yet unimagined forms of work. Students and parents trust their education systems to know what students need and prepare them for success. School leaders need to ask the hard, long-term questions about what will drive success for today’s kids tomorrow.

John Heintz is a writer, teacher, researcher, editor, podcaster, blogger and thinker. Based in Shanghai, he writes on the education, economic, legal, justice and social issues facing the global community. John Heintz has lived and worked in Scotland, Illinois, California, Texas, France, Spain, the Netherlands and China. He writes regularly for Second Rail and other media outlets.


Historical Sites to Visit in The Hague


The Hague pic
The Hague

A graduate of Northwestern University with a master’s in English literature, John Heintz of Chicago also earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and a JD from the John Marshall School of Law. He went on to serve as legal officer and assistant superintendent for operations at Niles Township High School District 219 before becoming an international education and law consultant. As part of his post-graduate studies, John Heintz participated in the Advanced LLM in Public International Law program at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, a country which offers a number of beautiful and historic cities to see, including The Hague.

Located on the North Sea Coast, the Hague is home to the International Court of Justice, but it offers much more to do and see. The following are just a few of the numerous historical sites to visit in The Hague:

The Ooievaart

As The Hague is a canal city where boats used to unload merchandise at local markets, the city features canals where visitors can take a tour aboard the Ooievaart to get a unique view of the town’s architecture and history. During the 90-minute tour, visitors can learn about such sites as the Malieveld and the Palace Gardens.

The Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk

Constructed in the 15th and 16th centuries, The Grote of Sint-Jacobskert, also known as St. James Church, is a classic Gothic structure that features a six-sided tower with bells, historical works of art, and ornate stained-glass windows. Although the church occasionally hosts Protestant services, it is mostly used for special events, including concerts and banquets.

The Binnenhof

The Binnenhof (the Inner Court) is located in the oldest area of The Hague and dates back to 1250. Consisting of several buildings surrounding a central courtyard, the Binnenhof is now home to both chambers of Parliament as well as the North Wing, where the Dutch prime minister resides.

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

RIC Expands and Improves with Help of Prominent Donors


Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago picc
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

The recipient of a juris doctor from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, John Heintz is a public attorney who recently served six years as chief legal officer with Niles Township High School District 219. Outside of his professional pursuits, John Heintz is a board member for the charitable foundation of Chicago’s Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.

Previously named the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), the trauma research and treatment center was renamed upon its expansion and relocation in March of 2017. The 1.2-million-square-foot hospital was under construction in June of 2016 when donors Pat and Shirley Ryan decided to contribute a significant amount of money to the funding of the hospital. The couple said it was their largest single gift, and while they wouldn’t disclose the dollar figure, naming rights for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago reached over $100 million.

The new hospital features innovation centers with a specific focus on trauma-related issues affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, and muscles. It includes collaborative efforts from scientists, therapists, clinicians, and other medical professionals. An additional $8 million in funding was raised at the recent Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Gala.

Mountain Biking as an Olympic Sport

Mountain Biking pic
Mountain Biking

The recipient of multiple graduate degrees, including a master of business administration from the University of Chicago, John Heintz is a senior legal consultant for Lydian, Inc., a firm he co-founded in 2013. He also recently served at Niles Township High School District 19, where he was the chief legal officer. When he isn’t working, John Heintz enjoys mountain biking in Chicago and surrounding areas.

Mountain biking began as a fringe sport in California during the 1970s following the development of bicycles that could better handle the bumpy off-road terrain. The creation of the Repack Downhill race in 1976 helped establish mountain biking as a competitive sport and, seven years later, a national mountain bike championship was established. The sport’s first ever world championships were held in 1990, and six years later it was granted status as an Olympic discipline at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Bart Brentjens of the Netherlands became the first man to win gold in the cross country event after finishing first in the two-hour-plus race, while Italy’s Paola Pezzo was the first woman to win gold. The sport has since been contested at six Summer Olympics and five individuals have won multiple medals, including both Brentjens and Pezzo. Other multiple medal winners include Julien Absalon and Miguel Martinez of France, as well as Sabine Spitz of Germany.

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.