Spotlight on NC Businesses Supporting Public Schools and Welcoming the Forum's New Executive Director and Host of Education Matters
During COVID-19 and the new remote learning environment that North Carolina's students are grappling with, our state's business community has stepped up to bridge the digital divide, forming partnerships with local school districts to provide technology and innovative solutions to access school resources. We'll talk with representatives from Google and Lenovo today on the show about these partnerships, and in another exciting development, we'll introduce the Public School Forum's new President and Executive Director -- and future host of Education Matters-- Dr. Mary Ann Wolf.
What would education matters presented by the public school form of North Carolina on your host, Tom Williams during Cove in 19 In the new remote learning environment that North Carolina students are grappling with, our state's business community has stepped up to bridge the digital divide, forming partnerships with local school districts to provide technology and innovative solutions to access school. Resource is, we'll talk with representatives from Google in the no vote today on the show about these partnerships and in another exciting development, will introduce the public school forms new president and executive director and future host of education matters. Joining us now are Mr John Bischoff, the executive director North American commercial category with Lenovo, as well as Miss Lilan Hester, head of external affairs for Southeast with Google. Thank you both for making the time to be with us today. Thanks for having us. So covert. 19 has really changed the landscape in so many ways for schools, businesses and the families as we've switched 1.5 million public school students over to remote learning and the big adjustments for their teachers and parents as well. I know that Google and a Novo have responded to this in a number of your various partnerships that you all have designed and initiated. Maybe starting with you first. Weiland. Please share the highlights of some of the strategies you've done at Google and how it's worked out well for us. It started maybe four years ago with a pilot in Caldwell County, North Carolina. We have a gadison a in Caldwell County and have a lot of Googlers who worked at that site and like to get dug into the community. In a conversation with the head of the Education Foundation, Pat Triplet, she mentioned that kids have a long bus commute to school, and by long it's like an hour one way. And I thought, Well, what we turn that time into an education time? And she agreed and work with our school partners and our city and county officials, and they agreed to. And they said, Well, I said, Well, what if we put WiFi on those school buses? And then, at the end of the school day teachers board their school buses and help kids with their homework? Um, and it worked. We partnered with some Granite Falls Middle School. That was the middle school. That was the first test on, and they saw great success rates when it came to their enough. Your test scores. Now fast forward to Kobe in 19 those school buses, and at that time it was about 10 school buses were in the bus yard sitting there and we thought, What if we roll those school buses out and get to the community toe where kids are now? So then the concept changed in from really study halls into rolling hot spot, where the school buses were retrofitted with routers and within 10 9 so they could boost the signal. The buses roll out into the community were kids, then lead the school bus, and I'm able to access the school systems portal for education. Get in there, get their assignment, do their homework. So this project was extended into the work that we do with on CBC E. What is the North on a business 20 on education? Um, remote learning is something that in the state of North Carolina, there isn't a strong there isn't a curriculum around. Their resource is, but no one ever thought that a pandemic. We have to kick everything into high gear where remote learning is going to be essential. So as part of the remote learning work group, what we do is that we meet and we make on opposite. We create resources for the teachers for the state and order to get the more than 120,000 kids in the states don't have access to you. The Internet devices that access John How about from Lenovo's perspective, Tabletop bonobo had a long history of being involved with education. We work with the Cramping Institute, the Boys and Girls Clubs. So when the Kobe 19 crisis hit, it was really obvious. Quickly, as the work from home are just doing the school from home education Rome initiatives, we went out. We knew there was many communities that were underserved with access to the devices that kids would be to be able to participate in the education. So we reached out working with the state Department of Public Instruction to identify what those communities were and what those needs would be. And we donated since then over oblique $1.5 million worth of chromebooks as well as software or to provide the students those devices More recently, we found the Carolina Panthers there. Player in activity had saying similar idea, recognizing those gaps. And they have desire to do something similar dominating Chromebooks into understood schools. They reached out to us. We help them reach a quantity to two school systems, in particular Richmond and Columbus. I'm donated 600 phone books. Partnership with them. So, you know, he recognized that technology will be available to everyone. It's something that is absolutely part of our culture. So that was what we worked on to make sure that the kids had that kind of access. So, John, let me stay with you for this next question, and that's with your experiences. What do you see as keys to successful partnerships between the business and education sector and the role that each of them play? Yeah, that's a great question. I would say there's two things first and foremost. You got to be there for the long term. You can't just swoop in and here's the donation and you swoop out. You've got to be part of the solution of helping the school systems. The teachers know how toe integrate that into what they do every day. But the other element of it is is you've got to be able to the corporation. You gotta provide what they need. So, for instance, we know that students are probably the hardest audience on their devices of anyone. If you can imagine, I had thrive. Three teenagers I know they beat their devices up more than anyone. So what we provide our, um, ruggedized you could drop one of our Our probe looks from a height of three or four feet, and it will survive. If you're just giving a school system something that's been a break in the 1st 3 weeks, you're really not solving their problems. So that's the other pieces. Get get the schools and what they need to ensure that it means very good. Uh, Lilan. Anything to add to that in terms of what you see is essential into business, education, partnership, arena. Being really good listeners to your community partners, you can offer every glitzy which the gadget thing on the planet. But it's when you sit down and just listen, and I do that with my check in with folks in different communities throughout the South piece. I said, If we can be helpful. Let us know how. What, er your painful What's what do you want us to do? A Google to help your students to help the school district to help different states. What do you mean? And you throw a question like that out there, people will give you an answer. And I always come from a dream was like, Well, we've always hoped that one day our school district would go one, the one it's like, That's your dream. Let's work to get there. And that's what we've been doing in communities. Right? Well, I know that both of you are active members of the North Carolina Business Committee for Education, and we appreciate the impact that they have collectively across the state. So maybe the last each of you a final comment of things that you see is emerging trends around how business and education can work together effectively, and maybe any comments about how your employees are engaged. So I'm gonna go back to John Member, close out with you, Lila. Thank you. Well, one thing about technology is that it always is change. So, you know, they're things like your virtual reality, which I believe is going to become a major technology within the next 2 to 3 years in schools. So it's gonna be very critical that we that we teach the school systems, the teachers administration, how to integrate and you lives. Those new technologies askew Talk about our employees. One of the good things about Lenovo is is they realized that the employees kind of lead the way they encourage their employees to participate in their local schools that give tied off to allow them to do so. We've seen the benefits up with our employees as parents or just is just people wanting to work with the students when they're engaged. When there's that engagement, there's that listening of how you go about and help. Then that's where the real changes. Very good. Why haven't we have about one minute left? I could not agree more. My colleagues, we for ourselves, Googlers. When it comes to working in our communities, we get really dug in and that's everything from speaking at different career days to being actively type of job. The sores to up in North Carolina. We have a soapbox derby. Just call the grab the games and we have 5000 people attended every year. And it's showing kids that stem isn't just the fact tax and figures in the classroom. It's also building something and making your cargo bath down a hell a top speed. So it's that excitement that we like to blame to two communities. And when it comes to innovation and what we've seen on the horizon, I stick a post Kobe 19 world is going to be a very different world. There's always been the question around. Remote work, remote learning. Can it work? Our folks just gonna be home doing laundry all day. We proven that you can be more efficient working from home. Then that comes being in office. So now that made the case proven it. It's one of the extensions around remote learning and remote work. Going to be in a Coast night, um, Coups of 19 world. I think that's the exciting is what the future is gonna hold on. That's a lot of what we're working on. Thank you both so very much for what you're doing. But also thank you for making kind to be on education matters of this evening. We appreciate it after the break I'll be interviewing our new president, executive director Dr Mary and Rule. Thank you so much. Education matters has brought to you each week in part by town bank serving, others enriching lives. It's my pleasure to welcome to education Matters are new president, executive director of the Public School Forum. Dr Mary and Wolf Marianne had spent six years prior to joining us with the Friday Institute for Education Innovation, and most recently, she's been the senior director of professional learning and leading collaborative there. And once again, we are delighted to have you with us. Marion, thank you so much time. I am absolutely thrilled to be here. I have such immense respect for the critical role that the Public School Forum of North Carolina plays in conducting research, developing innovative programs and creating tangible policy and practice recommendations. Thank you so much for providing the opportunity for me to bring my ex Syrians and education for many, many years. Um, that's role at this time. Why the form? What drew youth specifically to this role? Yes, Well, I believe very much in the potential of a nonpartisan organization to bring people and organizations together to do what is best for our students. The foreign has such a rich history of leading and education in North Carolina, and it's particularly important right now at a time when we need to bring together stakeholders across the state to address significant challenges on Earth. One. I so appreciate their willingness to take on tough issues to make sure we have data and that we can really work together to move the needle for all of our students on The Forum for me provided a unique opportunity to bring together my background from my time in D. C from my many, many years now in North Carolina in policy research and advocacy. The with the on the ground work with districts and schools. And so it just felt like a wonderful opportunity. And I am thrilled to join such a strong team, board and partners. Great. Well, as you referenced a little bit, you certainly taking the helm at the public school form at a time when there is significant and collective effort to really ensure ah, significant actions and significant investments moving forward to meet our constitutional obligation to ensure every child of sound basic education as really defined by the longstanding Leandro decision, Uh, something that the state has found. Uh, the courts have found that our state has really failed to do over the decades. How do you envision Ah, path forward towards Leandro compliance for a state, Especially in the context now for Kobe. 19. And what role do you think the form can play in this? Yes, it's a great question. You know, the past three months have only exacerbated the inequities in our state and the needs of our most vulnerable students. I was very encouraged by the recently released short term action plan on that the parties and Leandro case agreed to and released a couple of weeks ago because it acknowledges the complexities of ensuring that every student has access to a sound basic education. We know that teachers are the most significant school related factor for student outcomes and school leaders or the second, and Leandro addresses this by emphasizing the importance of creating pipelines and professional learning opportunities for teachers and principals, including a focus on a diverse teaching force. Action plan also goes further into addressing the needs of the whole child, providing an opportunity to maximize what we know about learning science and the brain to address trauma and foreign practices and learning. I'm encouraged that the plan also includes finance and accountability systems, in addition to supporting our low performing schools, addressing any one of the primary areas and Leandro may lead to incremental gains for our students. But recognizing the importance of systemic change by thinking about statewide structures in human capacity needs while also providing opportunities to support students academic and social emotional learning really does have the opportunity to create a path for all students in North Carolina to have access to a sound basic education. It's, um, exciting also that under your, uh, leadership, the public school form will be launching a new center on with a focus on racial equity called the Dudley Flood Center for Educational Equity and Opportunity. It will serve as a critical resource during a time when our country is pushing back against the legacy of systemic racism on other inequities and social injustices, and that we, as an organization, are actively engaged in efforts to eliminate systemic racism in the educational system in our schools. Can you talk some about the effort and the opportunities that you see it presents. Yes, Tom, I am so grateful for the foresight of the board and the early supporters of the flood Center. In recent weeks, we have brought together an ad hoc committee to arrive recommendations to the board on the eight key areas of focus that were identified by our Study Group 16 and the discussions and timing or particularly poignant. I feel so fortunate that Dr Flood is part of this work and his experience and work in North Carolina provide an ideal but also a challenge for all of us as we work to build a center that unearths and addresses the true challenges we face while providing resource is the port and recommendations. So all of those working towards policy and practical strategies, I think it's important to remember that equity does not mean equal inputs for all, but rather its understanding the needs of each student and striving to meet those needs so that each student can reach their full potential. And when I think about Leandro and I think about the deep work of the forum, the center is exactly the right place to bring those together with many, many partners and stakeholders from across the state. The flood center is not intended to be a simply be a place where people can talk about the issues, but instead an opportunity to make sure that people can come together to have the hard conversations that lead to solutions and actions to address the inequities that so many of our students especially are low income students and students of color face. So as we look ahead, I think the flood center will play a critical role in education in North Carolina, but also helping all of us to make sure we're focusing on the deep issues that equity and racial equity bring to our world and our state and our schools. We're looking forward to that work moving forward and your role in helping to leave that initiative. The forum offers, as you know, several innovative and existing programs that are doing important work to meet students needs like our Resilience and Learning project as well as the North Carolina center for after school programs, tell us about these initiatives and generally speaking your goals for how the forum supports on and lifts up public education across our great state of North Carolina. I think now more than ever, we have seen the importance of public education but also going deeply looking at schools, how much schools really are the hubs of our community. And as we move forward, we know that that is critical, that we continue to make sure that our public schools air strong and are able to meet the needs of our students. Right now, I feel like the Forum is uniquely positioned to bring its expertise and policy and research as well as its on the ground programs. We are in schools every day when we are face to face, but working with schools every day now virtually on, we will bring all of that to the challenges we face. We recognize that we cannot do this alone and we don't want to do this alone. So in the next month we will convene key nonprofit groups and stakeholders across the state with the goal of addressing policy challenges that we all see facing our schools. We appreciate that working together will allow us to make strides that none of us can do working alone, while the events that we will host will certainly be different this year, and some will be delayed. We will continue our partnership event the color of education. We'll do this virtually this fall to ensure that we could provide opportunities for those engaged in education in North Carolina to come together to learn to push each other and to continue equity. We will also build our work with schools and districts. You mentioned Tom the resilience and learning in the center for after school programs. We are hosting opportunities for educators this summer with our synergy conference for after school programs, but also for our resilience and learning for the many schools that have participated with us over the years. Our Resilience and learning program works closely with teams and schools so very much on the ground and coaching as we think about adverse childhood experiences and making sure that teachers are able to provide a culture and strategies that are needed to support those students. We also know that our after school programs really help to think about how we can expand and extend learning opportunities for our students. And once again, our current crisis has brought to light how important that is for our students. As we look ahead, we believe will bring these bodies of work in policy and practice more closely aligned with our deep work on equity to support the important policy discussions and actions needed, as well as support schools and districts in their work to address the whole child, the Foreigners mission is to provide trusted, nonpartisan, evidence based research, policy analysis and innovative programs that empower and informed public to demand that education best practices become common practice throughout North Carolina as a team and a board and with our partners were challenged by the opportunity and the responsibility to work toward this in the coming weeks, months and years on. I am very grateful to be able to join the forum now in my third week, and to work towards thes tremendous challenges for our state, but are so important for each and every one of our students. Well, thank you, Mary Anne, for joining us today. It's been a pleasure to be teamed up with you the past three weeks and look forward Toa to see you again soon here on education matters as well as other other work sessions. Thank you again. We're all familiar with the African proverb. It takes a village to raise a child during these incredibly challenging and unsettling times. Caused by Cove in 19. This sage advice serves as a guide post in helping ensure each child in North Carolina has a positive experience in re entering their formal learning at the start of the 2021 school year. Whether one serves an elected leadership position at the state of local level or as a business leader community volunteer, the unique learning needs of our students and the needed support of their families across our state are is great today as any other time in our recent history, whether our schools ultimately reopened in August as full time, face to face, hybrid, face to face and remote learning or a totally remote learning scenario. The impact of covert 19 for each of these plans will require significant adjustments. And resource is to work without a doubt, as our state experience in the last three months of this most recent school year, additional financial, human and technical resource is our essential and making certain every child has the opportunity to receive a sound basic education as guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution. Governor Cooper, our General Assembly state Board of Education, Department of Public Construction and other state and local agencies have taken critical and timely action in allocating available federal and state funds to address such critical needs as student food insecurity. The inequities of access and availability to broadband and technology resource is for remote learning for our most disadvantaged communities and students. The Leandro Action Plan, as presented by the state defendants to Judge David Lee on June 15 2020 and the additional $427 million requires as a first step presents, are legislative leaders with the opportunity to advance our response to Cove in 19 and for our state's K through 12. Public schools toe emerge from this pandemic better position to meet the expectations for improved student achievement and school performance. Business and community leaders are to be commended for their efforts to provide the much needed additional support volunteers and resource is in our local schools and communities. Their continued conversation with local superintendents, principals, teachers, education foundations and related nonprofits throughout the summer months will go a long way and meeting the needs of our students as they re enter school in August. Our students are counting on all of us to do our part. Let's show them we're up to the challenge now and for years to come. That's it for this week's show. See you next week.