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The Broad Center network gathers for a virtual forum

On March 31, more than 250 alumni of the Broad Center at Yale School of Management (TBC at SOM) gathered for a one-day virtual forum, the second hosted by the Yale School of Management, to share stories of leadership, connect with friends and colleagues, and participate in conversations with leaders about pressing issues facing public education and the world. The theme for this year’s gathering was “Goal. Link. Able.”

Participants included the first cohort of the Yale SOM Fellowship for Leadership in Public Education (The Broad Fellowship), who completed the certificate program earlier this month; they have gathered with alumni of the Broad Academy (TBA), Broad Residency (TBR), and Broad Fellowship for Education Leaders (TBFEL) at the previously independent Broad Center in Los Angeles for nearly two decades. The day’s events were accompanied by a lively discussion in the virtual event chat window, with alumni sharing relevant research and personal experiences.

Learn behind bars

The event’s keynote brought together three writers and lawyers with a deep interest in teaching and learning in prisons. The moderator was James Forman Jr., Yale J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law and author of Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America. Introducing Michelle Kuo and Dwayne Betts, he said: “You both live lives dedicated to teaching, reading and books in spaces where America has done its best to ensure that the teaching and reading cannot thrive… Teaching and reading in spaces of oppression. ”

What difference can a teacher make? Forman asked. Kuo, the author of Reading with Patrick, a memoir about working as a tutor in a Mississippi Delta county jail, described realizing that her job was to help people in prison discover their own taste for books. “I still had this idea that I would fill them with things I liked and realized instead that you really had to fill the students with themselves.”

Betts, a JD graduate of Yale Law School and currently a doctoral candidate there, is a poet and the founding director of Freedom Reads, which brings books, libraries and speakers to people in prison. “The best thing that happened to me was when I dismissed the idea that people think books don’t matter,” he said. “Every time I’ve made it the center of what I’ve been doing, I’ve been successful.”

Bringing books to prison often means wrestling with the idea that such programs need to have measurable results, Forman said. Kuo and Betts “didn’t talk about [reading’s] impact on recidivism and obtaining employment,” he said.

“We don’t have longitudinal studies trying to track what books we read and how it changed your life 20 years later,” Betts said. “No teacher would supervise it, because how do you control all the other variables? It’s not like anyone thinks books are a panacea, but I think books are food and you feed them. hungry people.

Kuo added, “They are intrinsically worthwhile. It is important for a person to read, to find comfort, to have his mind broadened.

Reaching out to early childhood educators

The opening panel discussion focused on early childhood education and its importance to K-12 educators across the Broad network. Moderated by Jenna Conway (TBR 2012-14), school readiness manager for the Commonwealth of Virginia, it included Miriam Calderón, policy manager for the political organization ZERO TO THREE; Derek Little (TBR 2012-14), assistant chief of teaching and learning in the Dallas Independent School District; and Hanseul Kang (TBR 2012-14), director of the Broad Center at Yale SOM and former superintendent of education for the District of Columbia.

“Why are we talking about early childhood?” Conway asked. “Why should this set of innovative K-12 leaders be thinking about babies?”

The first years of life are critical for brain development and future health and well-being, Calderón said. “I fundamentally believe we’re not going to see results in the K-12 system, especially when we talk about closing the persistent gaps and disparities by race, by income, by geography, if we don’t have a system of more equitable early childhood. ”

Few echoed the importance of early childhood education in equity. In his urban district, he said, “The cap on results is our third grade class. This third year result becomes a limiting factor in the long-term paths of our students…. In our data, students who take our pre-K curriculum are three times more likely to be ready in third grade. »

K-12 educators can also learn a lot from those in early childhood education, Kang said. “In recent years, much more attention has been paid in the K-12 space to social-emotional learning. This is something that we could have tackled much earlier if we had learned from our colleagues in the field of early childhood.

That means treating them with care and respect, the panelists said. “Build relationships with early childhood leaders in your community,” Calderón said.

“Partnership is not just about relationship and awareness,” added Little, “You can actually create implementation partnerships”; in Dallas, for example, public school teachers and coaches visit small child care centers.

Calderón suggested the pandemic has helped clarify common goals. “In early childhood education, our focus starts with care and we learn the nurturing and learning and development part,” she said. Meanwhile, K-12 systems “are emerging from the pandemic with a greater focus on helping families. Can we adopt these two systems, a framework of care and education? »

Leader on climate change

A panel discussion on climate action was moderated by Jonathan Klein (TBR 2006-08), co-founder and CEO of UndauntedK12, which helps schools deal with the climate crisis. He spoke with John King Jr. ’07, the former US Secretary of Education and Co-Chair of the Aspen Institute K12 Climate Action Commission, who is currently running for Governor of Maryland.

Klein recalled the day he focused on climate change. Her daughter asked her to chaperone her participation in the 2019 climate strike. “I became radicalized that day, walking among young people, listening to their urgent and ambitious calls to action.”

“In today’s session, our hope is to raise awareness ‘of how climate change’ is already changing our mission as educators.”

The K12 Climate Action Commission, King said, has developed an action plan for K-12 education to help be part of the solutions to climate change. “We looked at the education landscape and concluded that we could do so much more on these issues,” he said. “We have 100,000 buildings. There are huge opportunities from an infrastructure perspective for the education community.

Building sustainable infrastructure does not divert money from teaching and learning, he said: “The cost of construction per square foot is the same, but over time the cost of the energy is considerably lower.

Why is this an important question for schools to consider now, Klein asked, after two years of the pandemic and other challenges?

“We all have to recognize how difficult the past two years have been, for educators, parents, children,” King said. But “it is already a reality. It’s not a problem in 50 years. It’s a problem now. Every time we replace the diesel bus with another diesel bus, we make our problem worse. »

A school district should start by developing a local climate action plan, King said. Bring students, parents, teachers “around the table to talk about the concrete steps we can take. We have to be serious about targets. Goals should be measurable and they should be ambitious.

It is important to consider fairness throughout the process. “We can’t have a serious conversation about climate action, about any topic, without bringing in a racial justice lens.”

The day also included cohort meetings, recognition of the inaugural Broad Fellowship cohort, highlights of alumni impact, and leadership stories – candid reflections from Broad alumni on their personal life experiences. Leadership stories were presented by Steve Zrike (TBF 2021-22), Superintendent of Salem Public Schools (MA), and Dominique Donette (TBR 2018-20), Legislative and Public Affairs Specialist at the California Hawaii State Conference NAACP . Three prominent members of the Broad network were also recognized in memoriam during the opening session. The Broad community honored the lives of Eli Broad, LaVonne Sheffield (TBA 2002) and Quentin Liggins (TBR 2017-19), who passed away last year.

“It was inspiring and invigorating to be among so many Broad Network members,” said Hanseul Kang, Associate Dean and Executive Director Anita and Joshua Bekenstein ’80 BA of the Broad Center at Yale SOM. “I am grateful to our amazing speakers, the SOM staff members who helped make this event happen, and all the Broad alumni who joined throughout the day. We appreciate the incredible work our alumni community does throughout the year on behalf of students, families, and communities, and we look forward to continuing to come together to create connections and ideas through the Forum every year. »

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