episode 30: How do we encourage diversity in young adult literature?
Why isn’t there more diversity in young adult literature? According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s report on diversity in young adult children’s literature, more than 40 percent of the main characters in the books it surveyed were white. No other demographic comprised more than 11 percent. Should literature introduce our children to perspectives and viewpoints different from their own? In this episode, Kevin looks to Caroline Richmond, a YA author and the interim executive director of We Need Diverse Books, to discuss why it is important for young adult literature to reflect the cultures, experiences, and perspectives that comprise its readership.
episode 29: How has young adult literature evolved over the years?
Annual sales of young adult fiction reached a new high of $80 million in 2018 and book sales increased nearly 10 percent per year during the pandemic. Why is this genre gaining popularity? How has it changed over the years? And why is it so important for kids in this age group to be engaged in literature? In this episode, Kevin turns to Dr. James Blasingame, an English professor and co-editor of the ALAN Review.
episode 28: What role does e-sports play in our schools?
Before the pandemic, e-sports had grown into a $1 billion global industry. Now, there are more gamers than athletes in U.S. high schools. But how do students benefit from e-sports? Can video games help students become better problem solvers and critical thinkers? Do they drive interest in math and STEM programs? And what career paths exist for gamers? In this episode, Kevin looks to Dr. Robert Rippee, executive director of Black Fire Innovation Hub, to explore the role that e-sports play in our schools.
episode 27: How can we get more kids interested in computer science?
Computer science and IT jobs are expected to grow 13 percent by the year 2030. But less than half of U.S. schools teach computer science as part of the core curriculum. How can we get more kids interested in computer science at an early age? And what should our schools be doing to ensure our students are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow? In this episode, Kevin speaks with Jackie Smalls, the Chief Programs Officer at Code.org, to explore the benefits of computer science programs in K–12 schools.
episode 26:What is the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our schools?
As our nation debates questions of racial and social injustice, school districts are getting serious about diversity, equity, and inclusion. But what challenges await leaders who push a diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda? How should they respond to those who may not agree that these programs are needed or appropriate? And how do we strike the balance that ensures every student feels safe and supported at school? In this episode, Kevin speaks with Dr. Rydell Harrison, program coordinator at Partners for Educational Leadership, to hear his insights around the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our schools today.
episode 25: What does critical race theory mean for our students?
This year we’ve seen 28 states consider measures that would restrict education on racism, bias, or the historical contributions of specific ethnic groups. Much of the debate has centered on critical race theory and its place in our schools. But do we really understand the implications? What exactly is critical race theory? And what is its place in the larger conversation about efforts to strengthen diversity and inclusion in America’s schools? In this episode, Kevin looks to Rep. Chris Mathias, a member of the Idaho House of Representatives, to explore what critical race theory really is, what it means for students, and how it’s been politicized in recent months.
Episode 24: What do preschoolers need from their teachers and schools?
We all know that preschool is an important first step in a child’s learning journey. But what are the pillars of a strong preschool curriculum? And how can we better support young children who have gone through trauma or adverse childhood experiences? In this episode, Kevin speaks with Kai-lee Berke to find out what preschoolers really need from their teachers and schools and how we can work together to deliver the most effective support.
episode 23: How can we support veterans transitioning into the workforce?
Two hundred thousand armed service members transition into civilian life each year. And more than half say that joining the private sector is much harder than they expected. What can we do to ease the transition for those who serve? And how can we help them learn the new skills they will need to succeed? In this episode, Kevin invites veteran Airforce intelligence officer Brian Niswander to share what he’s learned about the transition process and how we can help veterans succeed.
episode 22: Is early childhood education a springboard for academic success?
During the 2019–2020 school year, more than 1.6 million children were enrolled in preschool programs across the United States. But is early childhood education really a springboard for academic success? What are kids able to learn and absorb at this age? And are we striking the right balance between the ABCs, the 123s, and the social interaction that’s vital to healthy development? In this episode, Kevin speaks with clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Troy to understand preschools and the science of how young minds learn and grow.
episode 21: How can schools and families better address bullying?
When it comes to bullying, one of the most heartbreaking statistics is that 40 percent of victims believe they will be bullied again. What can we do to break the cycle? How should parents, teachers, counselors, and administrators respond? In this episode, Kevin speaks with Dorthy B. and Conway Brooks, a student and her parent, who experienced bullying. They’re sharing their story to help us understand where we are falling short and inspire us to do better.
episode 20: What can we do to ensure all children feel safe at school?
One out of every five children in the United States has been a target of bullying. And many more choose not to report being bullied. But what do we really know about bullying today? In this episode, Kevin speaks with Julie Hertzog, director of Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center, to discuss how the definition of bullying is changing, how we can spot it, and how we can make sure that all kids feel safe and supported at school.
episode 19: Are we doing enough to support Hispanic and Latino students?
Hispanic and Latino students account for one quarter of the students in our nation’s public schools. The 2020 census shows that they are the fastest growing population in the United States. But what do the census results really mean for America’s educators? Are we doing enough to prepare for an influx of Hispanic and Latino students? In this episode, Kevin speaks with Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF, to discuss how America’s schools can prepare for and support Hispanic and Latino students.
Episode 18: What can schools do to support the needs of Hispanic and Latino students?
Hispanic and Latino communities represent the second largest ethnic group in the United States, and they account for more than a quarter of our nation’s students. But does our education system reflect the rich diversity that exists within our schools? In this episode, Kevin turns to Amalia Chamorro, Director of Education Policy at Unidos US, to discuss the academic needs of Hispanic and Latino learners.
episode 17: how can parents be empowered to make their voices heard?
The pandemic provided parents with a front row seat to their children’s education, and many did not like what they saw. But how can parents drive real change in systems that are resistant to reform? And what can they do to expand the opportunities available to their kids today and in the future? In this episode, Colleen Dippel, founder and CEO of Families Empowered, joins Kevin to discuss parent power in education.
episode 16: how can parents advocate for better schools?
As parents, we want what’s best for our children and we expect our schools to prepare them for a successful future. But are kids learning the skills they need for tomorrow’s jobs? How can we as parents advocate for better schools with our elected officials and school leaders? In this episode, Kevin speaks with Alisha Morgan, spokesperson for the National Coalition for Public School Options, to discuss how to empower parents to drive change in their school systems.
EPISODE 15. How can school districts support undocumented students?
This year, it is estimated that 1.1 million undocumented students will enter our school system. The Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision requires states to educate them all. What can school districts do to support these students’ unique needs? In this episode, Kevin speaks with Dr. Monica Goldson, CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools, to discuss how school districts can support, educate, and integrate undocumented students in their school systems.
episode 14: How can we overcome partisan politics to support undocumented students?
In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled, in Plyler v. Doe, that children have a legal right to education regardless of their immigration status. What does that mean in today’s reality? In this episode, Kevin turns to Senator Tom Daschle, former Senate Majority Leader and founder and CEO of the Daschle Group, to discuss how we can overcome partisan politics to support undocumented students in our education system.
Episode 13: How can we drive meaningful change in our school systems?
The pandemic created an opportunity to change the way we serve a new generation of learners. But how can we drive meaningful reforms in U.S. school districts, including those that are resistant to change? In this episode, Kevin turns to Dr. Sonja Santelises, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, and Dr. Shari Camhi, Superintendent of Schools for Baldwin Union Free School District, to understand how we can bring innovation and change to our school systems.
episode 12: How can we build stronger school communities?
We’ve always relied on our communities—family members, neighbors, local workers, and professionals—to see us through challenging times, and the pandemic is no exception. How can we leverage these relationships to better support our schools? In this episode, Kevin looks to Shantelle Wright, founder and CEO of Achievement Prep, and Andrew Hart, CEO of The Oaks Academy, to understand how strong, vibrant school communities are conceived, built, and maintained to ensure students thrive.
Episode 11: How can we prepare students for the careers of the future?
Stedman Graham and Jeff Selingo join Kevin to discuss how career paths have evolved. They used to be linear—students transitioned from high school to a blue-collar job or to college and a white-collar profession. But in this age of technology, one or even two educational credentials are not enough. Today’s workers need to upskill or reskill to remain relevant. How can we transform our education systems to teach the skills of tomorrow? What can students do to future-proof their careers? And how can we become a nation of lifelong learners? Stedman, an educator and businessperson, explains the importance of identity leadership, and Jeff, a NYT best-selling author, shares how students should prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.
episode 10: What can celebrity philanthropists teach us about education?
Celebrity philanthropists like Jalen Rose and Ted Dintersmith donate their time, expertise, and money to education initiatives for a variety of reasons. Some do it give back to their communities while others have a vision for the future and a plan to get there. While we may not have the resources or followings of famous personalities, are there lessons we can learn from them to improve our educational system? Can we leverage our own experiences and talents to transform our classrooms into centers of creativity and innovation? In this episode, Kevin turns to Jalen, ESPN analyst and former NBA player, to learn why he founded a public charter school in Detroit and how it prepares students for college and a successful life, and Ted, author of What Schools Could Be, to explore how teachers across the country are innovating in their classrooms.
Episode 9: How has the pandemic changed the politics of education?
Too often America’s public schools are caught in the crosshairs of partisan politics or competing federal, state, and local government requirements. Add to that the demands of vocal parents and it is no wonder school leaders find it challenging to set priorities. How can we encourage our elected officials to collaborate to improve outcomes for students? And how has the pandemic changed the balance of power? Kevin invites former Louisiana State Senator, Ann Duplessis, to share her experiences working with state officials, local school boards, and federal agencies to address shortcomings in the educational system. They are joined by Andy Rotherham, co-founder of Bellwether Education Partners, who explains how elected officials across the aisle can find common ground.
Episode 8: How can we develop the next generation of problem solvers?
Today’s students have the world at their fingertips. With cell phones and laptops, they no longer need to rely on teachers as the sole providers of educational content. How does this shift the balance of power in our nation’s classrooms? What do educators need to do to better engage these digital natives? And how can schools help students develop the skills they need to solve the problems of the future? In this episode, Kevin turns to John Hunter, an elementary school teacher and creator of the World Peace Game, to discuss how educators and students can create compelling lesson plans together. Joining the discussion is Jamie Casap, former chief education evangelist at Google, to share how teachers and parents can unleash their students’ creative powers.
episode 7: How do employers value skills vs. degrees?
The American workforce is shifting. We’re now in an era where only 27 percent of college graduates pursue a career in their field of study. And with the high cost of college, many students can’t afford to earn a degree. How are employers responding? Are they shifting their focus away from degrees to skills? If so, how should we prepare the next generation of workers for success? In this episode, Kevin is joined by Cheryl DeSantis, chief people officer at SmileDirectClub, who shares her experience in building a successful, global team and how candidates can get noticed. Kevin also sits down with Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, to discuss how we need to transform workforce development.
Episode 6: What does literacy education look like in modern society?
Literacy has always been at the foundation of our educational system. But with today’s realities of social injustice and digital transformation, how does literacy education have to evolve? More than ever, we need to teach students not just to decode, but to comprehend, to make social emotional connections, and to exercise critical thinking skills. Too often, schools do not do enough to teach students of all backgrounds these critical life skills. In this episode, Kevin speaks with Earl Martin Phalen, CEO of the Phalen Leadership Academies, about his programs that support the marginalized and increase their ability to read. Joining the conversation is Dr. Maryanne Wolf, the Director of the Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice at UCLA, who shares her expertise in cognitive neuroscience and psycholinguistics and its implications on young children learning to read.
Episode 5: Academic Assessments: How can we make them more relevant?
Education is shifting because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Answers to long-overdue questions about how we measure student progress are now being demanded. School districts and the private sector are re-evaluating how standardized test performance relates to future work and career opportunities. Simultaneously, schools need to address how they will foster an equitable classroom—both in access and in curriculum. Kevin spends time talking with Chris Minnich, CEO of NWEA, to learn how the role of assessments are evolving and the programs available for preparing students for college and career success. Joining the conversation is Dr. Saran Stewart, researcher and senior lecturer of higher education at the University of the West Indies, who shares her expertise in access and equity and the importance of forming an inclusive learning environment for all students.
EPISODE 4: ARE WE PREPARED TO PAY THE MENTAL HEALTH BILL FOR OUR NATION’S STUDENTS?
Kevin talks with famed author and ‘godmother of Silicon Valley,’ Esther Wojcicki, and Dr. Tammy Pawloski who has crisscrossed this nation to support children of poverty. Esther, a noted educator, scholar, and all-around ambassador of U.S. education, discusses her latest book on how to raise successful children and Tammy shares her powerful message about those most often forgotten about in our country.
EPISODE 3: DOES THE UNITED STATES ECONOMY STILL HAVE ROOM FOR STUDENT'S DREAMS?
As unemployment numbers climb and student debt rises above $1.7 trillion, many of us wonder what this means for the next generation. Is there still room for students to pursue their dreams? Kevin examines the powerful data and its impact on our ability to adapt to maintain this opportunity. Joining Kevin is famed author Heather McGowan and the person behind the data, Karl Rectanus of LearnPlatform. Heather discusses her latest book on adapting and Karl shares the behind-the-scenes conversations U.S. school districts are having about the role of EdTech on education.
EPISODE 2: HAS THE PANDEMIC CHANGED SKILL REQUIREMENTS OF OUR NATION'S TEACHERS?
The pandemic is transforming education. Is it also changing the skill requirements for our nations’ 3.5 million teachers? Kevin explores this conversation with noted political scientist and prolific author, Rick Hess and the trailblazer you haven’t heard of, but wish you had – Talia Milgrom-Elcott of 100kin10. Rick has written more books than most of us could conceive of on our own. A noted scholar and analyst, Rick, brings an extensive background to the discussion. Talia shares her beginnings and inspiration for her powerhouse efforts to support the real-time development of thousands of STEM educators across the country.
Episode 1: How do we encourage engaging learning environments?
The concept of a classroom is changing. With 65% of American households turning to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, many are getting their first taste of virtual learning. For others, this is nothing new. Kevin spends time with famed educator and futurist Sugata Mitra of TED Talk notoriety, and educator and author Rachael Mann. They discuss what it means to engage with students and the roles equity and access play when we debate what is best for the next generation of students. Sugata’s name is synonymous with TED Talks, including his idea of ‘Self Organized Learning Environments’ where students take charge of their learning from anywhere with an internet connection. Rachael is a well-known educator and author exploring the edges of education and college-and-career readiness.