Thursday Panel

Beyond Ideology: A Bipartisan Approach for the Education Reform Coalition

Bipartisanship is a powerful driver of lasting change. Over the last two decades, we’ve seen an alliance between policymakers on the left and right create and grow the charter school sector, and more recently, pass the Every Child Succeeds Act. Under the Trump Administration, however, this alliance is beginning to fracture. Our closing panel will engage educators and advocates on both sides of the aisle in a lively debate about the place for activism within the education reform space. How can we get past partisan politics and do what’s right for children?

Friday Panels

Advocacy and the Changing Role of Schools

In a volatile political environment, where there appears to be a disconnect between the federal administration and its subordinate institutions, decisions instituted by the former do not always align with with values of the latter. This disconnect is particularly prevalent in the education space, which is intimately linked to contentious national issues such as immigration and income inequality. Schools, in turn, are pushed to assume a more proactive role in defending the values of accessibility, equitability and inclusivity. The Trump administration’s September decision to end DACA, for one, saw an outpouring of support for “Dreamers” from educators who vowed to stand by their students, regardless of immigration status. This panel will examine challenges to advocacy on a school level and resources schools can leverage, and will propose realistic goals they can work towards in advancing their causes.

Diversifying the Human Capital Pipeline:

Students of color in the United States account for half of all students, yet teachers of color comprise fewer than 20% of public school teachers. Closing this gap is critical. Research has linked same-race teachers to better academic achievement and lower rates of exclusionary discipline among students of color. This panel will explore strategies for building a more diverse human capital pipeline to the classroom and beyond.

Having the Conversation

Political Dialogue in the Classroom and on Campus

The U.S is politically divided. The degree of polarization is exacerbated by a barrage of “fake news,” harsh rhetoric, and inflammatory comments made from both sides of the aisle. Social media makes confirmation bias more rampant. From an education perspective, how do we teach civics in a balanced fashion to encourage a more open dialogue? How do we program on campuses to foster courageous conversation and tolerance? This panel aims to answer those questions and provide concrete ideas to help bridge the divide in classrooms and on campuses.

From Concept to Scale: A Deep Dive Into Achievement First’s Greenfield Redesign

Redesigning schools isn’t just about ideas, it’s about creating sustainable educational models. This panel will examine Achievement First’s Greenfield model from the design thinking phase to implementation. The network’s Co-CEO, Doug McCurry, will discuss what happens when the rubber hits the road, and how savvy operators adapt along the way.

Intelligence as Social Currency:  Building Community Around Achievement for Black Males

This panel is an in-depth look at a district’s attempt to support a student-led initiative aimed at building community for black male students around academic achievement and mentorship through an organization called The Brotherhood. We’ll hear about the successes, challenges and lessons learned from stakeholders across an organizational, faculty and district level. The panel will be moderated by  Yale School of Management associate professor, Michael Kraus, whose current work explores the behaviors and emotional states that maintain and perpetuate economic and social inequality in society.

Investing in Education: Private Equity & Venture Capital

As a public good, primary and secondary education in the US has historically been funded mostly by public sources. Technological disruption and intensifying labor markets have increased private investment in education to an all-time high of $6B in 2015 and similar levels thereafter. The nature of venture capital and private equity funds raises many questions about the impact of these investments on the education ecosystem: How are student outcomes affected by privately backed services? Should education-focused funds function differently from other sectors? Will investment continue to focus on EdTech and ancillary services, or will more central education functions start to receive private money?

The Future of Personalized Learning

In recent years, the approach to personalized learning was through the lens of high-tech enterprise platforms that guide students through curated curriculum playlists. The purpose was to create an equitable and highly tailored learning experience. Today, however, we are beginning to ask what else must be true in a school or district in order to realize the desired outcomes of personalized learning. Leaders in the education technology space will share their thoughts on what large scale personalized learning tools should look like and the challenges they expect to face in the coming years. We’ll also ask them to respond to criticisms of the proliferation of educational technology products and what methods they have observed or used themselves to combat those criticisms.

Leveraging Data for Impact

This panel will explore the opportunities and challenges involved with leveraging data to impact school and student outcomes. Some questions our panelists will consider include: What are best practices for effective use of data that districts, CMOs, and schools should be doing right now? Where are the biggest opportunities to leverage data in the future? What are the greatest hurdles that stakeholders face to use data strategically?

Implicit Bias and School Discipline

This panel will discuss the role that implicit bias plays in teaching and disciplining today’s students, the consequences of current and past practices, and some of the options available to schools and educators moving forward.


The Evolving Curriculum Conversation in the Common Core Era:

A growing body of evidence suggests that high-quality, standards-aligned curricula can be a powerful, cost-neutral driver of student success. While this strikes many educators as intuitive, adoption of standards-aligned curriculum presents challenges, from identifying the right curriculum to aligning professional learning for teachers. How can we overcome these obstacles and better provide districts, schools, and teachers with the tools they need to teach to the standards?

An Update from Brick City

Newark Public Schools has been the subject of much national debate in recent years. A 2015 ELC session examined the district’s reform efforts and posed the question: “What’s next for NPS?” Three years later, we’ll talk to former NPS Superintendent Chris Cerf about Newark’s education revival efforts.

Grit and the Psychology of High Achievers

In recent years, educators have been increasingly focused fostering non-cognitive skills, like grit and resilience. Research tells us that character matters, but we haven’t yet figured out a reliable way to teach these skills. This panel will concentrate on stories of achievement in the face of incredibly challenging circumstances. We’ll explore non-traditional paths and examine the characteristics and support systems that lead to success in the face of adversity.