A National Perspective on Building Equitable Systems of Education & Well-being for All Children

A National Perspective on Building Equitable Systems of Education & Well-being for All Children


(people talking in the background) – Alright ladies and gentlemen, I think we’re going to get started. To those of you who’ve
been with us, welcome back. I wanna welcome members of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, community, our faculty, staff, and students who have joined us for
this special presentation. We’re thrilled to have
John King with us today. I’m about to read what’s
a very impressive bio. You won’t get a more impressive bio. But I do wanna say in advance of that, that what I love, and
I’ve had the opportunity to introduce John before
to different audiences. In introducing him, it’s not
just the sort of standard this is a very high achieving national leader in the work that we do. But this is also, just a great person. Just a wonderful person. Somebody who you’d love to
have as your best friend. Somebody who you would entrust
your children’s care to. Somebody who, in the way he conducts his life, and his person, and his style is somebody who we all very much admire and aspire to be like. So John, thank you so much for joining us. But I have to read the bio
just because it’s incredible. (laughter) John became junior as
the President and CEO of the Education Trust, a
national non profit organization that seeks to identify,
enclose opportunity and achievement gaps for
preschool through college. King served as the US
Secretary of Education from 2016 to 2017 as a member of President Barack
Obama’s administration. Before becoming Education Secretary, and beginning in January 2015, King carried out the duties of the US Deputy Secretary of Education, overseeing all policies and programs related to P-12 education,
english learners, special education, and innovation. And then there’s a gap in the bio here which doesn’t say that he was Chief State School Officer for the state of New York, which is a considerable achievement that most people would put at the top. But apparently it’s just, it isn’t even here, but, (laughter) King began his career in education, and we can take some
local credit for this, we’re proud to say, as a high school social studies teacher in Puerto Rico, and Boston, Massachusetts, and as a middle school principal. And he was a key player in the founding of the Roxbury Prep
Charter School in Boston. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in government from Harvard University. A JD from Yale Law School. As well as a master of arts in teaching of social studies, and
a doctorate in education from Teacher’s College
at Columbia University. King’s life story is an
extraordinary testament to the transformative power of education. Both of King’s parents were career New York City public school educators who’s example serves as
an enduring inspiration. Both of his parents tragically passed away from illness by the time
he was 12 years old. He credits New York City
public school teachers, particularly educators
at PS276 in Canarsie, and Mark Twain Junior High
School in Coney Island for saving his life by providing him with rich and engaging
educational experiences, and by giving him hope for the future. It is our real privilege to have John King on our stage today. (applause) – Good morning everybody. – [Audience] Good morning. – Thank you Paul, for that
very, very kind introduction. It is just, it’s a privilege
to be here with all of you. And it’s a privilege to be a part of this effort that you’re leading Paul. You have been an inspiring example in all of your leadership roles, and I’m just thrilled to be here. It’s always good to be back at Harvard. My wife is a Harvard Ed School alum. So I spent a lot of time
here when she was here. And I went to undergrad here as well. So it’s always good to be back here. And I deeply admire Dean Ryan. And I know that he will be missed as he moves onto his new role. But admire his leadership here. So where I wanna start, and maybe it’s because I’m a high school social studies teacher. I’m gonna start with current events. I’m gonna start with
putting our discussion this morning in some context. Last week I was at Cardozo
High School in Washington DC meeting with kids in middle
school and high school. I’ll tell you what they told me. One of the first kids I asked
about this current moment, talked about being Somalian, and her family not being able to visit, and not being able to travel, because of the travel
ban that’s been directed against people of Muslim faith. Another group of students are eligible for the DACCA program which allows young people who are
brought here as children to continue their education
and enter the workforce. And they’re scared. They’re scared about being deported. They’re scared about their
families being deported. Every single one of the kids talked about their fear of violence. Violence in the community, in DC, and the violence that
they see on television happening around the country. That’s the context in which we
have our conversation today. We also have the conversation today in the context of an administration that has proposed a budget
that would eliminate federal funding for teacher
professional development. A budget that would eliminate federal funding for after school
and summer programs. Eliminate funding for
the AMERICORE program. Cut student aid. That’s the context for our conversation. We also have this conversation (clears throat) at a moment when civil rights enforcement is under assault. The administration has already withdrawn protections for
transgender young people. Undermined protections for
LGBTQ folks across agencies. Is attacking affirmative action. Has reversed long standing tradition of following civil rights complaints by investigating patterns and
practice of discrimination. And has come backwards on the efforts we made in the Obama administration to try to tackle the problem
of campus sexual assault. That’s the context for our conversation. Context for our conversation
is that young people throughout the country watched on TV as the KKK and Nazis marched
across a college campus. And as the 45th President
of the United States struggled to condemn those
Nazi and KKK marchers, but had no hesitation
in conveying his anger, and directing his anger at athletes who are protesting police violence. Right, that’s the context
for our conversation. And so the conversation
today is about education. It is about community change. But it is also about conveying
to all of our young people at this moment when they
may feel under threat, that they are loved, that
they are cared about, that we see them, that they belong, and that we will make school a place that is safe and supportive for them. So this is a community of people gathered to figure out how schools and communities work together to protect young people and to expand opportunity for them. Part of what unites all of us here today is our collective commitment to ensuring that every child has the full range of opportunity in life. Can succeed in college, and careers, and as citizens, and can make of their lives what they will. This work is urgent
because of the political challenges we face as a country. But it is also urgent because for, really throughout our history, those who need the most,
have gotten the least. Kids who need the most,
have gotten the least. They’ve gotten less effective teachers, less access to advanced coursework, less access to resources, less access even to fundamentals
like school counselors. We showed at the Department of Education in our civil rights
data collection survey, we’ve 1.6 million young people who go to school today where there is a sworn law enforcement officer
and no school counselor. Think about the message that that sends to young people about
what we expect from them, and what we expect for them. This conversation is urgent because of the achievement gaps that we see. Whether you look at
the national assessment of educational progress or state tests, or graduation rates, we see a chronic achievement gap for low income students, for students of color,
for english learners. And those achievement gaps can be traced directly to opportunity gaps. The things we don’t provide to students at school, and outside of school. This is also a community that’s gathered on the principle that to make change requires everybody working together, and requires lifting up community voices. Right, I know that Paul’s
committed to the principle. Nothing about us, without us. Right, that’s what drives this community. How do we bring everybody’s
voice to the table to try to improve
outcomes for young people. And finally this is a
community that understands that we have to reject the false dichotomy that it’s all about school, or it’s all about what
happens outside of school. Kids are whole people. And so school matters immensely, and what happens outside of
school matters immensely. And I know that, as Paul mentioned from my own life experience. I grew up in New York City. I went to New York City public schools. In October of my fourth grade year, my mom passed away, I was eight. And I lived with my dad who was quite sick with undiagnosed Alzheimers. And so for four years
until my dad passed away when I was 12, it was just
the two of us in the house. And I didn’t know from
one night to the next what my father would be like. Some nights he was angry. Some nights he was sad. Some nights he would talk to me. some nights he wouldn’t. As he got more and more sick, I took on more and more
responsibility in the house. I had to figure out how to get food, how to do the laundry, how to keep the household going, how to pay the bills. And I would sit a lot of
times in school and worry. Worry about him, worry about our house. Wonder why he acted the way that he did. I couldn’t be a kid outside of school. But I was blessed. And I’m alive today,
and standing here today because I had amazing New York
City public school educators who saved my life. Who made school a place
where I could be a kid when I couldn’t be a kid at home. I had a teacher in fourth,
fifth, sixth grade. And you notice when Paul read my bio, it’s true I skip over a
lot of professional things. But I make sure to mention PS276 and Mark Twain Junior High School, because those teachers are
the reason I’m here today. I had a teacher, Mr. Osteria, he looped with us in
fourth, fifth, sixth grade. And he was the kind of teacher, you finished a book he
was there with the next. You finished a math
problem he had another one for you that was a
little more challenging. In his classroom, we read
the New York Times every day. I always say we were
doing college and career ready standards before they were called college and career ready standards. Alright, fourth, fifth, sixth grade, New York Times every day. I remember we had a, part of that class was you had this assignment where you had to study a particular country. And I had the Soviet Union. It was during the cold war, and so there weren’t that many articles. But I’ve been thinking a lot about this ’cause you know Russia’s
occasionally in the newspaper (laughter) these days. But so I had the Soviet Union, there weren’t that many articles. And the task in class
was you had to summarize all the articles about the
country that you were covering. And I remember, like yesterday, the day I walked into the classroom, at this little table by
the door of the classroom where the New York Times
would be stacked up, I remember the day I picked
up my New York Times, and the leader of the
Soviet Union had died. And there was a banner
headline about that. And every article on the front page, I knew I had to summarize, was about the death of the
leader of the Soviet Union. You know how in the New York Times, they have at the bottom,
like turn to page A7? So I turn to page A7. Open it wide. Every article on both sides is about this leader of the Soviet Union, and I had to summarize
every one of those articles. But every academic achievement I have had, I trace back to that kind of work that we were doing in Mr. Osteria’s class from in fourth, fifth, sixth grade. We also did productions of
Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Alice in Wonderland. I was the rose in Alice in Wonderland. (laughter) Imagine me with big red felt
petals sticking out of my head. Right, but I remember that
like it was yesterday. Those were transformative experiences. We went to the ballet, and to the Museum of Natural History. He just showed us this whole world outside of Canarsie Brooklyn that I would have never known existed. Alright, so I understand deeply the difference that all
of you can and do make in the lives of young people. Schools save lives every day. Alright so when people say, well school, doesn’t matter. I mean if kids are struggling at home, there’s nothing school can do. I know they’re wrong. I prove they are wrong. Alright, but I also understand that when kids are hungry, when kids are homeless, when kids are in a family
where there’s substance abuse or domestic violence, that
gets in the way of school. That’s why I say we have to
reject the false dichotomy. That the choices, work on school or work on things outside of school, we have to work on both together. So that’s really where I wanna
focus our conversation today. What do we do in both venues? What do we do in both places to expand opportunity for young people. So let’s start with school. And a vision for what school
can and should look like. We have to begin, as
we think about school, with quality early learning. The research evidence is overwhelming. James Heckmanm, a Nobel
Prize winning economist will tell you the return on investment is eight to one, nine to
one for high quality pre-K. So we have to start there. Making sure that every
child, regardless of income, has access to high quality early learning, which really begins at birth. But at a minimum we should ensure access to high quality pre-K for our three and four year olds. And we have to invest in quality. Right, quality doesn’t just happen. We have to make the investment. At the Education Department
we did this study that showed in many
places around the country pre-K teachers make half
of what they would make if they worked in an elementary
school within the district. Half. Many places pre-K teachers make less than you would make doing nails. Now I understand nails can be important. I’m not trying to slight that. What I am saying is that
given the brain research, given what we know about the difference a quality early learning makes, we’re not setting ourselves
or our kids up for success by poorly compensating
early learning teachers. That poor compensation
drives tremendous turnover and prevents us from getting the kind of quality results that we would want. We also have to be vigilant
about looking for quality, and giving pre-K sites
continuous feedback. I can recall visiting a pre-K in Queens who just had their quality rating and improvement system visit. And there were two things
they took away from the visit. One was how important it is to have a language rich environment. Right and so they were
working on trying to get, coach their teachers around that language rich environment. The other big piece of
feedback that they got was that kids needed to wash
their hands more frequently. And I said, you know, I’m a parent, and I said, yeah, seems like a good idea, but why is that a big deal. And why is that on the quality review. And they pointed out that what they found, was that when they built in routines and had students wash
their hands more frequently kids got sick less. And kids were in class more. But this pre-K was
located in a K-5 building, with lots of siblings in the K-5 school. Changing the routines around hand washing, and I watched the routine. I watched the kids line up. And they knew that they
had to take two squirts of the soap, and how long to turn their hands under the water. Changing the routine around hand washing improved attendance not only in the pre-K, but in the entire school. Right so, that’s about adult behavior. And we go back to this question, can we do things that make
a change in kid’s lives. That’s just about the adults. Pre-K kids are happy to
follow in the routine. Alright so a small
change in adult behavior produced better attendance
in the whole school. And we all know, even the
most effective teacher can’t be effective with a kid
who isn’t in the classroom. Right so we’ve gotta be focused on the quality in early learning. In K-12 we’ve gotta be focused on ensuring a well rounded, and well resourced education. It can’t just be about english and math. Alright, students need science, and social studies, and art, and music. Right, and opportunities to engage in gym and physical education. Opportunities to learn about health. Everything we would want
for our own children, we should want for all children. We wouldn’t want, none of us in this room would want our kids only to have
english and math all day. And so why would we wish
that on anyone else’s child? We have to insist on a well
rounded education for all kids. And that includes access
to advanced coursework. We showed at the Department of Education, that in our civil rights
data collection survey, low income students and students of color are disproportionately likely to go to high schools where you can’t even take chemistry, or physics, or algebra two. Now imagine, we say
that we want a workforce ready for STEM and yet, we have students who can’t even take the classes that are prerequisite to go on to study STEM subjects in college. So we need high quality pre-K. We need a well rounded, well
resourced education in K-12. We also need to make sure that we have a quality teacher workforce that is well prepared and well supported. We have to make sure that kids have access to school counselors. We have to make sure that kids have access to extended learning opportunities. All the things that affluent schools, and affluent communities would insist on, we need to make sure are
available to all of our kids. We also need to make sure that kids have the opportunity not only
for academic development, but socio-emotional development. In that we are addressing their socio-emotional needs in school. And that we are
integrating socio-emotional learning with academic learning. Right socio-emotional
learning isn’t a period. It isn’t a workshop. It isn’t a thing you do once a month. Oh, I’m going to
socio-emotional learning today. (laughter) Right, doesn’t work like that. But when you’re engaged in a project with your classmates,
right, when you’re building a science project over time, and getting feedback and
improving that project, those are also building your socio-emotional learning skills. When you’re engaged in
a peer mentoring program with younger kids, that’s building your socio-emotional skills. It’s not a separate thing. It’s gotta be integrated into
kids learning experience. We also need to make sure that our schools are safe and supportive
environments for all kids. And we have to acknowledge how this moment is undermining that. The Southern Poverty Law Center did a survey of K-12 educators, this year, asking about school climate. The climate around
bullying, and harassment. They found that eight out of 10 educators reported heightened anxiety, among LGBTQ students, among
African American students, among Muslim students,
and immigrant students. And four out of 10 educators don’t believe that their
school has a system in place to respond to incidents of hate and bias. So part of ensuring that our kids have the support they need in school is making sure that school is a place that is safe for them. Where they have a sense of belonging. And educators are saying they need more help and support around them. One of the places that plays out is around exclusionary discipline. We know for example that
African American students make up 18% of students in pre-K, and 48% of students who are suspended or expelled from pre-K. In our K-12 system, we know from that same civil rights data collection, that African American students are three times as
likely as white students to be suspended from school. And think about those schools that have the law enforcement officer but no school counselor. In those schools, the response to trauma is law enforcement. The response to mental health
needs is law enforcement. And that creates the
school to prison pipeline which we know dooms young people to involvement in the
juvenile justice system, and then the adult
criminal justice system. We need to do a better job ensuring that schools
have the mental health services resources, the
school counseling resources. But also that teachers have training around restorative justice, around alternatives to
exclusionary discipline. We also need to tackle the
issue of implicit bias. And acknowledge that all of us as Americans have implicit bias. It’s not about accusing
people of being racist. It’s about acknowledging the role that bias plays in our
culture and our society. Think about the studying done at Yale that showed pre-K teachers, black and white watching
video of student behavior. Same behavior from all the kids, but identified the behavior of the African American male students as requiring intervention, but not the behavior of
the white female students. At that issue of bias then affects how teachers interact with students, what messages they convey to students, we can tackle that. We also know that there’s training that can be done to build empathy. For example, there’s a recent study that showed that just getting
a note from the teacher, saying I believe you could be successful in an AP class,
increased AP participation. I mean it matters what messages kids hear from the adults around them. We also know there’s work to be done to ensure that teachers can deliver culturally responsive, or
culturally competent teaching. And Gloria Landson-Billings would describe that as having three components. One ensuring that
there’s strong academics. It’s not about culturally responsive stuff other than instruction, it’s about culturally responsive instruction. So we start with high quality academics. But then developing kid’s
cultural competence, an understanding who they are, and an understanding of
other people’s cultures. Right, and then it is
also about developing their socio-political consciousness. Do they understand the presence
of injustice in our society? And can we cultivate the tools so that they can challenge that injustice. Right, that’s the work we need to do around creating safe and
supportive school communities. So high quality pre-K, well rounded, well
resourced K-12 education, safe and supportive school communities, and diverse school communities. We know that students
who have the opportunity to attend schools that
are socio-economically, and racially diverse
do better academically. For sure we have decades
of research evidence that shows that low income students will do better academically if they attend school with more affluent peers. And their more affluent peers, at a minimum will do
no worse academically. But we also know that
attending diverse schools builds empathy, reduces bias. Right, and we also know that all of our kids will occupy a world, a professional world, and a civic life that will be diverse. And we need to prepare them for that. And there’s work that we can do to ensure that our schools are diverse. The Century Foundation
did a study recently showing 100 different districts and school communities around the country that are engaged in school diversity work. It is possible. It is doable. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect anywhere. Cambridge is a good example. Cambridge has a long
history of intentional socio-economic integration. It means the schools do not have some of the worst concentrations of poverty. But everyone in Cambridge
schools would acknowledge there is work to do to
ensure equitable opportunity within those racially or
socio-economically diverse schools. But we can’t get there if we don’t start. We can’t get there if we don’t acknowledge that more than 60 years after Brown versus the Board of Education we have many communities
around this country that are more segregated now than they were 10 or 20 years ago. In fact, Nikole Hannah-Jones writes in the New York Times, has written powerfully about the ways in which we disband and
preserve school segregation. There are places in New York City where the schools are more
segregated than the housing. So when people say well
it’s all about housing. No it isn’t. It’s about choices we make
about school assignment. She’s also shown this emerging trend of the white affluent sections
of county systems seceding. Seceding, it’s important that we use that word, seceding. Because there’s a
tradition in this country around secession and it is a tradition about undermining justice
through secession. And that is exactly what is
happening in those communities. We also know that there’s work to do to ensure that our educator workforce matches the diversity of our students. Majority of kids in
America’s public schools are kids of color, only 18% of our teachers are teachers of color. Only two percent of our teachers
are African American men. At the Ed Trust we just did a study in New York showing that there are tens of thousands of students of color who are in school districts and schools where they will never
see an educator of color. ‘Cause there are none. Yet we also know from the
Johns Hopkins research on a very large data
set in North Carolina, that elementary school students, African American
elementary school students having just one African American teacher are more likely to
graduate from high school. We also know African American teachers are less likely to suspend or expel African American kids and more likely to refer them for gifted
and talented programs. But this isn’t just
about students of color seeing educators of color in
their schools and classrooms. It’s also about white students having the opportunity to see role models and mentors of color in
their classrooms and schools. It is hard to believe
that African Americans are inferior if you’re learning calculus from an African American teacher. Right so there’s work to do in schools. But then I wanna turn to the work that we need to do outside of school. And I wanna suggest three areas of focus that I know many in this
room are already engaged in. But I wanna reinforce their importance. First, the work on wrap around
services informed by data. And that is an important component. In the Obama administration, as you know, we made a significant investment
in Promise neighborhoods. And we made that investment
because we understood that schools would be strengthened, and kids lives would be improved if there was better coordination between the different
institutions that serve them. Better coordination between health, social services, and educators. And we see progress around the country in many of those Promise
neighborhood programs. Had the opportunity to visit last year, our Indianola Promise neighborhood in rural Mississippi where students are already showing better preparedness for kindergarten through early learning literacy support that’s being provided through the Promise neighborhood. Had the opportunity to sit with parents who were in counseling sessions that were focused on both parenting skills and helping them navigate the job market so that they could find good employment. We look at the Promise
neighborhood in San Antonio where they focus particularly on issues affecting young men of
color in the community. And trying to improve the relationship between young men of
color in the community and the police in San Antonio through joint activities including joint athletic activities. I think about the work of the
Boston Promise neighborhood program at the Dudley Street
neighborhood initiative and the work that they’re doing, the progress that’s been shown
at the Orchard Garden School. The work that they’re doing to address the challenges that come with student homelessness and housing insecurity. But even as we celebrate
those good examples, we have to redouble our efforts around better use of data. And I wanna give you four examples. It’s actually a great NPR
story about Iceland today, and the work that is happening in Iceland to reduce substance use by teens. And one of the researchers
they talked to said, you want your data like your produce. Which I liked. You want your data like your produce, you want it to be fresh and local. (laughter) I thought that was pretty good. (laughter) So we need to use data to
drive, improve coordination. For example, should effort called building assets reducing risk, it was started by a school
counselor in Minnesota. But now it’s being replicated
all over the country. It’s a program that’s won two investing and innovation, IF3 grants, to scale their activities. The program is very straight forward. The idea is to have
teachers and counselors within the school meet to talk about the kids who are most at risk. Very simple. They look at attendance. They look at behavior. They look at course performance. And then as a team, develop strategies to intervene with those students. Their tag line is same teachers, same students, different results. And they’re showing that just by having the educators in the
school working together, intervene with those
students who are struggling, they’ve improved academic outcomes and improved graduation rates. Alright so that’s just using
the data within a school to make sure that the adults are coordinating their activities. I think about the work that’s happening with the Success Mentors program that Bob Balfanz at Johns
Hopkins has worked on. There the idea is, students
should be matched with mentors. We know there’s research evidence to support that mentors
make a difference for kids. But one of the things that we can equip the mentors with is information about the kids who are chronically absent so that they can respond when kids are missing school. So the idea behind Success Mentors is the mentor may either help encourage you to be in school. Or may help connect you with the resources and services that might help resolve the issue that is keeping
you from being in school. But the critical step is the mentor needs to know if you’ve been in school. So it’s a small example
of smart data sharing. A third example is around summer. And both summer learning
loss, and summer jobs. Teresa Rodriguez is
here, who worked with me at Roxbury Prep, she’s gonna
hate that I’m mentioning her. But she worked with me at Roxbury Prep. And one of her jobs as
a teacher at our school was to make sure that every kid had a productive thing to do every summer. Right, a small thing maybe. But actually we know
that summer learning loss has a huge role in the
achievements gaps that we see. Some have argued that by fifth grade kids who have not had
quality summer learning experiences are two years further behind because of the lack of
summer learning experiences. Imagine, we have mayors
who are leading great work including in Oakland, in this room, imagine if a mayor said, in my city every kid is going to have a productive activity every summer
and we’re gonna track which students are placed where, and we’re gonna make sure that we create those summer opportunities for every kid. Right just like Teresa
would do at Roxbury Prep. Now we were small, small middle school just trying to make sure every kid was productively engaged. But we could combat summer learning loss by ensuring that kids have those quality summer enrichment experiences. Same for teens. We know there’s research
evidence that suggests that teenagers who have access to summer jobs programs are less
likely to be incarcerated. And less likely to die. You heard that right. Research evidence that suggests that in high needs communities, where there is violence, the kids who are involved
in summer programs are less likely to be
killed in that violence. Now we don’t know exactly why. But we have a hypotheses
around peer effects, but also hypotheses around their meaningful engagement in sense of self that comes from having that job, and knowing that there’s
another way to earn money than through illegal activities. And having a sense of
what it would look like to be an unemployed adult. What if we made sure that every teenager in the community had summer employment. What if we were so diligent that we had every kid from K through 12 and we focus on ensuring
that every one them was productively engaged every summer. How different would communities be? That’s about data. But also using data to
drive decision making. A fourth example is around
post secondary transitions. Every year, so at the
US Education Department we also oversaw higher ed. Every year, American
students leave billions with a b, billions of dollars on the table because they did not complete their free application for
student aid, the FASFA. So we’ve done a lot of
things to make it better. We moved the FASFA date up. We made it possible to get information directly from your tax
return to populate the FASFA. But what if every school
in every community was laser focused on
ensuring that every student had completed the FASFA? Louisiana is doing this. And showing that through careful attention to FASFA completion
they have more students who are finding out what aid they can get. And therefore are more
likely to go on to college. Tennessee is also engaged in this work as part of their Tennessee Promise effort. Right, but there’s an opportunity there. Just a very small step to make sure that students complete the FASFA. Anytime I’m in a high school, one of the questions I ask the principal. How many seniors have completed the FASFA? This is a knowable data point and a place where we
can make a difference. Similarly around post
secondary transitions, we know that many
students say they’re going to college in the spring, but don’t end up enrolling in college in the fall. We can do something about that. Actually the strategic data project here has done a very thorough paper on the different activities that folks are engaged in around the
country to challenge summer melt. To make sure that students who say they’re going to college actually do by matching them with counselors and peer mentors over the summer. By using text messaging, prompts to make sure that they
do the things they need to to enroll in college
and get into their courses, and get their dorm, if they’re
gonna be living in a dorm. Or get their travel arrangements made. So there’s all the work that we can do around better leveraging data. Two other points. Healthcare. We have this emerging body of evidence around the powerful impact
of access to healthcare for academic and long term life outcomes. We know that children who have access to Medicaid through Medicaid expansion over the last two decades are more likely to succeed in school,
more likely to graduate from high school, more
likely to go on to college. We also know, emerging data shows that if their parents
have access to Medicaid, the kids benefit, there’s
a spillover effect. The parents who have access to healthcare are more likely to make
sure that their kids go to their healthcare appointments. So one of the reasons why ensuring family access to
healthcare is so critical, and at this moment when
the affordable care act is under threat, whether
it’s by attempts to repeal, or attempts to defund
the affordable care act. We’ve gotta make sure
that we are all activists on behalf of access to healthcare. We know that when students
get that healthcare it improves life outcomes. There’s an effort by the
Superintendent’s Association and the Children’s Defense Fund just to make sure that as
part of the enrollment process at the beginning of the school year, families are reminded
to enroll in healthcare. And given the information, not only about getting
their kids healthcare, but getting healthcare for their families. We also know that healthcare
can make a difference in core academic activities. There was just a study done in Baltimore on the importance of glasses. And students having glasses. I’m sure everyone will be shocked to learn that if you can’t see the board, and can’t read the book, it’s a problem for your
educational success. We know that we can
make a difference there. A program in Baltimore is showing significant reading gains just for making sure that kids have
access to vision services. Last point around the work that we can do on the community side and
support a better school outcomes is around two generation programs. We know that for many families lack of access to english can be a force that traps them in poverty. And we can address that
for both parents and kids. And there are programs around the country that are making sure that parents have access to english instruction that will help them in the job market just as their kids are
getting the academic support they need to build
their english skills. In many ways quality early learning is also a two generation program. Access to quality early earning can be a passport to the workforce for parents and family members. There are also programs that are working at the college level. I know that we have
folks here from Kentucky. One of the models I love
is this new building that’s been opened, the Eastern
Scholar House in Kentucky. The idea of being that low
income college students who are parents should
be able to have someplace they can live with their child, get access to childcare, and be able to afford housing. Sara Goldrick-Rab at Temple has shown the huge challenge we
have in higher education around housing insecurity
and food insecurity. In fact, in a survey of
community college students she showed that a third
of students were hungry, and 14% of students were homeless. But we can do something about that. And to the extent that we can do that for our students who are parents, we are benefiting them and
their children simultaneously. So there’s work we can do in schools. There’s work we can do in the community. But most importantly there’s work that we have to do together to give people a sense of hope and purpose. I’ll close with this. President Obama would
often quote Dr. King. And his famous saying that the moral arc of the universe is long, but
it bends towards justice. These days it’s feeling especially long. (laughter) But President Obama’s always quick to add that we have to be the
ones to do the bending. Right, it doesn’t happen on it’s own. We have to be engaged
in the work to bending. The work that you are
doing to build community, to better serve young people and families, is the work of bending the
arc of the moral universe. So I’m grateful to be with you
all to celebrate that work. To urge you to redouble your efforts and to tell people the story of the work. People need reasons to be
hopeful and optimistic. And too often they are awash. Whether it’s on cable news,
or the alerts on their phone, awash in all the things that are wrong. But I believe, as President
Clinton used to say, “there’s nothing wrong with America “that can’t be fixed by
what’s right with America.” There’s nothing broken about our country that can’t be fixed by people
like the people in this room working to bend that arc
of the moral universe. So thank you for the
opportunity to be with you and happy to take questions. (applause) Yes, Mayor. – When we were in our little group, when we were in our little group I said that my number one challenge was realtime diagnostic data. For example, we just got data about college matriculation
that is two years old. And that was the fastest we could get it. What are some examples? Can you go a little deeper into how we can get our data like produce? – Yes, ma’am.
(laughter) Well some of it requires change
in law, change in policy. So one challenge we have
in the higher ed space is that we outta have
a student unit record. We outta have a way that
we can track all students through higher ed so we have a better understanding of higher ed outcomes. To inform the work we’re doing in K-12 and also to inform higher ed policy. But there’s been a resistance to that. There is a bipartisan bill now in congress around a student unit
record that would help. Particularly on the specific issue you’re raising around
college matriculation. I find often that at institutions, people collect a lot more data than they use and share effectively. So take the issue of chronic absenteeism. Schools are collecting
daily attendance data. But unless they are carefully looking at, who are the students who
are frequently absent. And we define chronic absenteeism often as missing 10% of the school year. They’re gonna miss the highest
leverage use of that data. If you get a 90 on a quiz, that’s good. If you get a 90 for attendance that means you missed a month of school. Right, but we wouldn’t know that if we were only looking at
average daily attendance. So part of it is marshaling that data. We see the same challenge in higher ed. Georgia State has closed the gap. Largely closed the gap
in college persistence and graduation for their
low income students and students of color
through better advising as driven by use of data that was already available to them. They just, the bought a
computer system to track it. And they hired counselors to use it. And so when you at Georgia State, when you get a bad midterm grade, your advisor calls you and
says, what’s your plan? What are you doin’ about it? One of the things Georgia State found is they had a large number of students who registered for the
wrong classes every year. Classes that were out of sequence, classes that wouldn’t get
them closer to a graduation. So the advisor calls and says, I saw your course
selection for the semester. It doesn’t line up with your major. What’s your plan? So that’s about leveraging data. I think they call it intrusive advising. I call it nagging, right.
(laughter) ‘Cause it’s the thing that
I’m gonna do for my daughters. I, probably they would
say I already do it. (laughter) But affluent kids, kids who’s parents went to college are much more likely to do that than first generation. You think about some of the data we have in a criminal justice context, which I know you’re working on. Right, we know that many communities have underutilized the data they have about arrests, about
complaints against officers. If we look inside of the challenges we have around police violence, we’ll find a disproportionate
share of the incidents, I know you see this in the Oakland data, a disproportionate share of the incidents involve a subset of the officers who are frequently
involved in the misconduct. And so we have that data. We can put it to use. Now that also means we have to have a police and city contracts that allow that data to be used and so forth. But there’s a lot of, I would argue there’s a
lot of data that we have that we’re not making good enough use of. But then we also have to be diligent about changing policy obstacles that get in the way of using data effectively like this student unit
record issue in higher ed. – I appreciate your comment. You know there’s a lot
of activity going on around the country, – There’s a lot of
activity in the country, plus you know, mindfulness
training for teachers, parents, administrators, and students. And I appreciate if you
could comment on it. It’s success by ability, particularly if any district is truly doin’ it systematically. – So I have not visited anyplace that is doing it at scale. Certainly my colleague
in the administration, Vivek Murthy who was the Surgeon General was very interested in this topic and has written about it some. I do think there are
places where we’re seeing that that kind of mindfulness training, meditation training is actually improving school climate and reducing incidence of student violence on campuses. And improving quality of life
for students and teachers. We have a lot more data I think to gather around how to do it well. One worry I have about
the mindfulness work, and socio-emotional learning work is the real risk of people rushing to scale programs without
data and evidence. Or substituting good instruction for fads. So if you have mindfulness training, but your math teacher doesn’t know math, you’re not gonna do well in math. And so we’ve gotta make
sure that we couple intentionality about the socio-emotional and mental health and wellbeing of students with strong academics. And I know that’s part of the purpose of gatherings like this one. But I’m actually, I’m
quite optimistic about it. And I also think we’re gonna see long term of the mindfulness work
outside of a school context, has long term health benefits for people. So I do think there’s
evidence to be gathered. And then we’ve gotta be disciplined about testing out what’s the right professional development and support for teachers and school staff to make sure that it’s high quality. – I, there we go, so you mentioned that
we cannot make progress until we acknowledge
some of the inequities, until we acknowledge our history, our systems and structures that perpetuate racialized outcomes in
our educational system. And so can you speak a little bit about any districts or schools that are really demonstrating some success in terms of how you acknowledge, identify the challenges and then work
towards addressing them? – Yes, I’m so glad you asked that. We have a new podcast
at the Education Trust. I was trying to think about this morning, how am I gonna work in the podcast? (laughter) This was perfect. So the podcast is done by my colleague. Karin Chenoweth has written a book, Schools that Succeed that tells the story of districts that are
getting good outcomes for low income students
and students of color. One of the stories that
I particularly like is about Lexington, Massachusetts. And it’s the story of the
work that Lexington did around their METCO students. And you hear in the podcast an interview with the superintendent who
describes what Lexington was doing as institutional
racism without intent. And what he argues is, that when he became superintendent, he looked at the data, and students of color who
were coming to Lexington through the METCO program, their outcomes were nowhere near the outcomes of white kids from Lexington. And kids of color were
being disproportionately identified for special
ed, at a very high rate. And so as he dove into
the data with his teachers what he found was that
there were issues of bias that they needed to work on. And that they needed as a community to acknowledge this problem, and then work collaboratively to fix it. It was about acknowledging race and racial inequity in
their school community. And so the podcast tells the story of how Lexington tackled this. Ron Ferguson, the Kennedy School
is featured in the podcast. Commenting about the
changes that Lexington made. Because they had this honest conversation about issues of race. We also see places in
the Century Foundation report that I mentioned
around school diversity, tells the story of districts that are taking on
segregation in their schools. And trying to figure out how, through changing attendance
zones in some cases, creating new school models in some cases, through within school changes and practices that separate kids. Some kids in the AP classes, other kids in the remedial classes. They’re taking on those
issues and that history. So Century Foundation report, our podcast. I think one of the challenges though, is and I see this very much in our current political environment, people are reluctant to
acknowledge what is hard. Our history around race is hard. But the schools we have
today are a product of the fact that for hundreds of years in this country it was illegal for black people to learn to read, in order to preserve the
institution of slavery. And the institution of slavery
was followed by Jim Crow. Schools that were inferior by design. So when you think about how
recent that was in our history it’s not surprising that
we have the challenges that we do given that history. But we’re not gonna fix those challenges, we’re not gonna tackle those challenges unless we acknowledge
that the present state is an extension of that history. And we see places around the country that are taking on
exclusionary discipline. That can be very uncomfortable for people, to have to confront
their own issues of bias. And one of the things that I worry about is because it is hard, we also
need to give people support. And so I think about some
of the school districts that have tackled exclusionary discipline just by saying “you
can’t suspend anymore.” Good luck. As opposed to other
districts that have said, we’re gonna provide
professional development and support, and counseling services, and access to mental health services. And the outcomes are very different because it is so hard for
people to engage with. Do we have time for one more? One more, okay. Yes, ma’am. (woman speaking off mic) – I have a bachelors
degree here at (trails off) we talked a lot about funding equity specifically around Title One, and how the funding
formula unintentionally gives (trails off) and then also funding at the state level. The difficulties that
states have being Robin Hood and the tension that
creates at the local level in terms of how they’re doing taxes. So could you talk a little bit about, cause these programs you’re talking about are wonderful but they do require money. And we know they work (trails off) but how can we make sure
that they can be funded? – Well part of what
your question describes is a lack of, a historical
lack of political will around equity in funding. And you know in American
society, racism is like water. Whenever you have water in your house, it finds the cracks. Racism is like that. You go back to the 1960s, NAACP, LDF did a report
about Title One money not actually getting to low
income students of color. You could write a identical report today about the resources not getting to the students who need them the most. We did a study. Our Ed Trust West did a study on California School Finance Reform, which was supposed to
direct more resources to high needs districts. It did. But then within districts the resources are being directed to
more affluent schools and not to the hightest needs kids. So you’re right, the problem is present in the Title One funding structure. The problem is present in
the state funding structures and in how districts allocate resources. In fact, you can go to New York City and within blocks have schools that are spending 30% more. Affluent schools are spending 30% more than low income schools a few blocks away. Partly because of how
teachers are assigned, and how teacher salaries are accounted for in our school funding systems. But fundamentally, fixing
this, requires political will. And I would argue this
is one of the reasons why the school diversity
work is so important. It is hard to imagine a scenario in which you concentrate
the poorest students in a subset of schools where those schools are gonna get resources they need. The politics of America
generally don’t work that way. If you concentrate poor folks of color in one set of schools it’s going to be very unlikely that that set of schools will get adequate resources. And that’s our history. The history of segregated schools isn’t just about kids not siting together. It is about systematically
depriving schools of resources. I visited a county in
Florida, Pinellas County, where at the end of a school deseg order the school board went about resegregating the school system. Concentrating poor students of color in a subset of schools. The Tampa Bay Times did a study on this. A series of articles
called Failure Factories. Concentrated kids in those schools and then assigned less
resources to those schools. It was basically, it
was as though you took the 30 years of brown implementation and just did them in reverse to get back to the original state of a segregated, inferior set of schools. And they didn’t like that I came. And I went with Arnie. I was Deputy then. The two of us came, they didn’t like that we came and called them out. But what they were doing was wrong. But it’s a political will problem. And so I would argue
that we need to tackle how school districts are organized, how schools are organized to make sure that there’s political voice. If middle class white
kids are in a school, the school gets more resources. That’s just a descriptive
fact about American society. And so if we don’t have integrated schools then the political will challenge is even greater to persuade people. But the other argument
that I make to folks is there are not, there are no walls that you can build high enough to protect your kids future, from the future of the
kid down the street, or down the road, or
in the next town over, or living on a Native
American reservation out west. All kids fates are bound up together. So the other thing is we
outta have the political will even if we can’t get over
the diversity question. We outta have the political will because all of our kids
fates are bound up together. And we need leadership. I’ll close on this point. We need leadership that lists, that lifts our collective
aspirations in that way. That asks us how we can be better as a country and a society. Not that foments division. But asks us how we can be better, how we can be more true to our principles. Thanks so much. (applause)

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