Racism and the Economy: Focus on Education - Transcript - January 12, 2021
Robert Kaplan: Welcome to the third installment of the Federal Reserve virtual series, Racism and the Economy. This series is being hosted by all 12 Federal Reserve Banks and brings together community, business, and academic leaders to candidly examine the economic impact of racism and advance bold ideas and concrete actions to help achieve an economy that creates opportunity for everyone.
In future sessions after today, we're going to discuss topics such as housing, small business, healthcare access, wealth creation, and criminal justice, but today's session is going to focus on the critically important role of education in creating opportunity and improving economic outcomes for all our citizens. Let me just quickly go through today's agenda, which you should have in front of you.
Our keynote speaker is going to be Geoffrey Canada, founder of Harlem Children's Zone. He will talk about educational disparities and solutions to address them. He'll then be interviewed by Neel Kashkari. We will then hear from three practitioners who will each pitch policy idea, and we'll hear feedback on these ideas from a diverse panel of experts. After that, we're going to hear from Sal Khan, who's the founder of Khan Academy, a true innovator in online education. Sal will be interviewed after he speaks by Raphael Bostic.
And finally, we'll end the session with thoughts from Presidents Kashkari, Rosengren, and myself, along with award-winning educator Takeru Nagayoshi. As you actively listen to these sessions, we do want to hear your reactions and your feedback, and so please use the #racismandtheeconomy or the #federalreserve.
Okay, so let me step back and talk about why we're here. Education is critically important to improving economic outcomes for all Americans. A more inclusive society means better growth and prosperity for our entire country. But to achieve this goal, we need to address entrenched barriers to educational opportunity, particularly for Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans. Making progress in this effort will help us reach our full economic potential as a nation.
The problem is, and the challenge is, numerous studies tell us that Blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics lag the rest of the population in terms of educational attainment. For example, these groups are materially less likely to attend college than their white counterparts. A recent study indicated that approximately 67 percent of whites have attended at least some college versus 55 percent for Blacks, 53 percent for Native Americans, and only 42 percent for Hispanics.
The seeds of this disparity, though, begin earlier, with early childhood education, and extend through secondary education. To this point, a recent assessment by the U.S. Department of Education estimated that only 18 percent of Black fourth graders and only 23 percent of Hispanic fourth graders are reading at or above proficient levels. This compares to approximately 45 percent for white students.
The seeds of this start with early childhood literacy, and I'm referring to ages zero to five. Blacks and Hispanics—based on all of our research here at the Dallas Fed—that research indicates that they lag in terms of early childhood literacy. And we know that if a child starts first grade reading behind grade level, it is very unlikely and very difficult for that child to catch up to proficient levels.
In our work here at the Dallas Fed, we view improving these statistics and improving education in the context of an ecosystem. And let me explain that a little bit. We believe educational attainment is an ecosystem that starts with early childhood literacy. And this is why we believe expanded pre-K—going from half-day to full-day—and better access to affordable childcare that emphasizes literacy is very, very critical.
It's very critical, then, for us to develop innovative programs, many of which we're going to discuss today and hear about, to improve secondary education and college readiness. It's critical in this ecosystem that we do more to expand access to Wi-Fi. There are many parts of the country and certain areas that lack Wi-Fi access, and we need to close this digital divide and we need to beef up skills training. Improving this ecosystem is going to be essential to improving GDP for our country, creating greater employment and greater prosperity for our country.
So why is the Fed so involved in this issue? GDP growth is made up of growth in the workforce plus growth in productivity. Lagging educational attainment among the fastest-growing demographic groups, particularly Blacks and Hispanics, translates into lower workforce participation and lower levels of productivity growth for the entire country. Our U.S. population is aging. Workforce growth, in general, is slowing, and productivity has not been sufficient to offset that slowing. Improving the educational attainment of Blacks and Native Americans and Hispanics is going to be critical to achieving higher rates of GDP growth. Put another way, making investments, improving educational attainment, starting with early childhood literacy and extending through the entire ecosystem system I described, will mean more wealth and greater prosperity for all of us.
Educational attainment among Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans should be thought of as an investment. Using resources to close these racial disparities is likely to be among the highest return investments we can make as a society. This is a big reason why the Texas legislature 18 months ago passed comprehensive education reform. They were convinced that it was good for business, improving the quality of our workforce, enhancing our ability to attract companies to the state, and generally improving the prospects for prosperity for the entire state of Texas.
So for all these reasons, I'm very glad that we're here today. The Fed is very focused in using our research, convening power, and our community outreach to reduce racial disparities because we believe it will create greater growth and prosperity for our entire country. So I'm proud to welcome all of you here today, in this session, and this is a great opportunity for all of us to learn.
So to get started, without further ado, let me introduce Geoffrey Canada, founder and president of the Harlem Children's Zone. Harlem Children's Zone has been called by the New York Times, "one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time." Geoffrey Canada is known worldwide for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem, and for being a thought leader and passionate advocate for education reform. I've personally visited over the years and I'm very excited to hear Geoffrey's remarks. So without further ado, let me turn it over to Geoffrey Canada.
Geoffrey Canada: Thank you, President Kaplan, for that warm introduction, and say that I'm so glad the Fed is including education in thinking about the issues of race and racism in this country. For me, there is no more important issue—when we think about equity, when we think about making sure that this country lives up to all of those founding principles that you read in the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence—than to make sure we have education equity in this country.
And from the very beginning of America, African Americans—then, they were African slaves—were denied equal access to education, they were denied any education. And even after slavery ended, there was an intentional strategy to ensure that African Americans did not get a quality education. Essentially from 1849 and 1950, we had these segregated education structures that reinforced the disparities between white Americans and Black Americans in this country.
It was done for reasons to deprive African Americans of the opportunity to do the one thing that they knew [inaudible]. After slavery, African Americans knew the only way to actually get equity in this country was through education. Frederick Douglass, that famous abolitionist, way back when slavery first ended said, "It's easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." And what we have essentially done in this country is focus our attention on trying to repair broken men and women because we failed to give them an education.
Now, this issue for me, I became aware of as a young boy growing up in an urban ghetto in the South Bronx. And I was growing up the way millions of African American and Black and brown children in this country were growing up—a court and a system of failing education—and I recognized this early. By the third grade, I realized that children in our schools were trapped. An assumption was made by the time that you were eight or nine, that maybe you had the intellectual abilities to continue with education, or maybe you were headed towards a trade or something else. And that was done by labeling the classes. We were 3-1, and 3-2, and 3-3, and all of us children, we know what those numbers meant! Can you imagine telling children at that age, "I'm predicting who you're going to end up being, and you—I think you have a future; but you, I think you have no future."
By the time I went to middle school, right there in the South Bronx, Junior High School 133, they had special progress classes for the gifted and talented. And then the classes went from 7-1 to 7-22. What is a young boy or a young girl going to think about their future when they're in 7-15, 7-19, 7-10? Well, there was no pretense that we believed these children could get an education. And I was sitting there as a young teenager saying to myself, "Why are they doing that to us? Why are people making decisions about our lives at 13, 14, 15, that we're internalizing?" [Inaudible] ... their beliefs depriving us of getting an education.
So my challenge to America today is to confront the fact that we do not value all children equally in this country. That we have set up a way of thinking about some children that says, "We're accepting the fact that you probably are not going to be a success." And the thing that upsets me the most about this in our poor Black and brown community is there's no sense of urgency, there's no sense of crisis, there's no sense that we have to do something different if we're going to improve education.
The schools I went to in the South Bronx in the 1950s, they were some of the worst schools in New York City, some of the worst in New York state. South Bronx was one of the poorest congressional districts in the country. It still is. You still have some of the worst schools in New York City, some of the worst schools in New York State. And I sit back in say—now I'm 69, this has been going on for 63 years—we have been sending children into a system that it is clear that it has failed them, not for a decade or two, but over and over and over again. And what have we changed? Those schools start at the same time. They end at the same time. They are taught the same way even though these children have failed. Who would run a system where failure is the norm and you do nothing to change that system?
And when someone decided that we had to reform these systems, we had to figure out ways of trying to shake the system up—we created schools, charter schools, and others—the pushback has been enormous! I'm like, "Why are people so upset when you try to go in and change a failing system, and they're not upset that that system has failed children, decade after decade after decade, until it's just commonplace?"
I think it's time for us to really rethink our ways of approaching education equity in this country. And we have to start with a belief system. And here, to me, is the fundamental belief system: Those little boys and girls I went to school with in the South Bronx, they were okay. Yeah, they had challenges in their lives, but there was no reason for those young people not to be able to get a quality education. But we've created a system of pseudo-science, pretend science, where we justify why some children do well and some children don't.
Even when I was in college, we had Jensen—Arthur Jensen was talking about the "Q," which was sort of like an intelligence quotient. We had Murray with The Bell Curve. What they were saying was, "Fundamentally, we think African Americans don't have the same intellectual capacity of whites. So, therefore, we shouldn't feel so bad that they're not doing as well." This is, to me, just straight racism, because the truth of the matter is when you have a group of people who are for a hundred years denied access to quality education, access to quality housing, access to quality nutrition, access to quality healthcare, access to quality mental health care—and those children and families are left, essentially, to fend for themselves—you cannot then turn around and say, "Oh, I think that this system is fair, and these kids don't have the same IQ as other kids"—who did not have those kinds of challenges that they had to face.
So, for me, this issue is, how do we rethink education? And I think that Raj Chetty, the economist from Harvard, I think did a groundbreaking study on what happens when children move from low-mobility poor communities into higher-mobility communities. And up till 12, you began to see that those children, when they get jobs, that their work earnings are significantly higher than children who stay in those low-mobility communities. Now [inaudible] ... their IQs by moving from one community to the other; you just leveled the playing field in some key areas that those of us who are thinking about "place," we care about. I started the William Julius Wilson Institute because we believe place matters. We believe you simply can't leave this on schools alone to think that they're going to overcome all of the health, mental health, anxiety, depression, lack of resources that children bring into those schools.
We think you have to include the family, you have to include the community. And at the Harlem Children's Zone we have tried to rebuild the entire community around children so that these kids have more of a middle-class experience. People have said we can't afford it; we've afforded the expansion of jails and prisons. We can afford to invest in children—early on and consistently invest in their families, invest in their communities—so that we began to level this playing field, and we give economic equity an opportunity that poor children right now have not received.
So let me just close in saying that when Waiting for Superman was done, it was named after me finding out that there were no superheroes at about eight or nine and crying because I knew living in the South Bronx, we could not be saved. And most of my friends were not saved. Very few of them are alive today.
Right now, there are children in America who are hoping someone is going to come and rescue their communities from the kind of insecurities and poverty that they face. We can't leave it all to schools. We have to think about, how do we rebuild communities so that families can have the kinds of resources and supports we know all children need. I would just say to the children of this country who are sitting there waiting and hoping that we, as leaders, are going to do something different for them: Hang on! There's a group of us around this country who are determined that we're going to rebuild communities, help our schools, really reform the education system, and bring equity to all the children of this country. Thank you very much.
Neel Kashkari: Geoffrey, this is Neel. That was fantastic. Thank you. That was very thought-provoking introductory remarks. I really look forward to getting into the discussion with you. You talked about expectations for children, and I really think it comes down to how we see each other. When we look at a child, do we see our self? When we look at another person, do we see ourselves, and say, "Yes, I see myself in this child, therefore I can help this child to achieve his or her potential."
But I have to start with what we saw last week at the Capitol. I mean, obviously it was shocking, a threat to our democracy, everybody's outraged by that. But I just have to say, from my own opinion, if those were Black militants, armed militants storming the U.S. Capitol, I think they'd all be dead right now. And so that is the most stark example of racism and disparities in our society.
What we're talking about in education is more subtle than that, but it really does come down to hearts and minds and how we see one another, and can we see our self in the other person. You've had tremendous success at the Harlem Children's Zone. You didn't end racism. I wish, and I'm sure we agree, we would love to just end racism and start there. How do we make progress when we still don't see ourselves in one another? When there still is this racist foundation in the country, can we make progress? And how do we do it?
Canada: I think, you know, here's the contradiction, and I think it shocked us all. Run up to the election, you began to see Black people, white people, Latinx people, marching in the streets because of George Floyd and other kinds of.... And you saw America and you said, "That's the America we thought existed, where people are demanding justice, they're looking for ways to come together and say we no longer cosign to this kind of discrimination and racism." And then you juxtapose that to what we saw at the Capitol. And you're stunned at, "Oh my goodness, look how much work we have to do." But let me tell you why I'm hopeful. Right now, we're focused on the insurrection and it was horrible, and a lot of us who love this country, we're still shocked by what happened there. But at the same time, in Georgia—which, if you're my age—Georgia is a place, with Alabama, Mississippi, that you knew were the heart of the Confederacy and racism in this country. We just had an election where the first African American senator was elected, the first [inaudible] senator was elected. When they go into the Senate, the time [inaudible] African American woman, those signals.... And, by the way, the sort of leadership of this country right now is more diverse than it's ever been.
So here's the contradiction we have to deal with: Yes we have to worry about democracy in this country cause there are people who were prepared, literally, to overthrow the country. But let's not miss the fact that they're a bunch of Americans who have said, "Oh, we need to see this country change." And for the moment, I'm going to hold onto the optimism. Even though I am terrified about what's going to happen over the next week in this country, I also see the hope of America right in front of us.
Kashkari: I appreciate that optimism. And I do share your optimism, and that's why we're having these events to take us all forward. So when we think about your own experience—lifting up children in the Harlem Children's Zone—can you just talk about some specifics? How did you overcome racial barriers? How did you overcome racism? How did you make progress, and how can we take that across the country?
Canada: The [inaudible] ... folks who know about the Harlem Children's Zone, know about my partner and best friend, Stan Druckenmiller, and an idol stands up, a white man from the business community, I'm a Black man from the inner cities of New York, we came together with the belief that the children were just as able, just as intellectually capable of [inaudible] ... Manhattan. And we both held ourselves and our staff accountable for that vision.
And I think that's part of this issue. I would just challenge the corporate America, the business part of America, to partner with government and local, not-for-profits, because we could have not [inaudible] got a dime to adventure some work with purely federal money. We needed private dollars to prove that we can actually eliminate the achievement gap.
It wasn't easy. There were a lot of people held accountable, but the science of what it is we did by extending our school day, by working on the weekends and in the summertime, and insisting all of our kids are going to college, that is something, there's no miracle here that other places around this country aren't attempting to do the same thing right now.
Kashkari: We're going to hear later on this morning from Justice Alan Page, who's working with us to try to create a civil right for children to get a quality public education. We're getting pushback because, "Well, wait a second, are we going to elevate children's rights above adults' rights?" I know you face some of these same barriers as you pursued reforms in Harlem. Could you just talk about what you learned and what success you had and what we can learn from that?
Canada: Well, it's funny because some of the folks that you would think would be your friends in fighting for poor children, it turns out that they're part of the problem and not part of the solution. That there are a group of people—Democrats, Republicans, this is regardless of your political party—who are comfortable with the status quo. They don't see the sense of urgency, they see no reason we ought to shake things up, make people act differently. The adults have their jobs. They get paid, whether those children fail or whether those children succeed. It's the only huge business in this country where there's no penalty for failure. And I have been upset about that literally for decades.
So I think right now that we're trying to do two things. We're trying to really get an education reform where we're making sure poor schools have great teachers, have great resources, have connectivity, have devices, but that they also partner with other folks who are allowing to extend the school day, to extend the school year, to make sure sports and arts and culture all part of their school experience. And we separate this idea that some children in this country can't make it and hold people responsible for making sure all children make it.
I think a human right, a civil right for children in this country.... You know, I'm a senior, and the one thing that we seniors know is that we have rights that other people in America better not mess with. And nobody messes with the seniors, because they know we will fight, we will fight to keep our share of government dollars. There's no one willing to do that for children. No one. If we treated our children like we treated seniors, then you wouldn't need to have a civil right for education for poor children in this country. But right now, children don't have powerful friends. They sometimes have folks who have powerful interests in education, but not in ensuring that these children actually make it. I happen to think this is a crisis in this country.
I happen to think that if we don't solve this, Neel, I worry about the future of America. I don't see how we stay a great country if we continue to allow the majority of our children now, who are children of color, to not be able to get a quality education. If you love this country, you've got to love education reform and love the fact that we have to do real investments in these communities for these children to succeed.
Kashkari: Well, Geoffrey, this has been fantastic. And, unfortunately, we are limited in our time. I would love to continue this conversation with you for another hour, but I really appreciate your coming here and kicking us off with such passion and such experience. So, thank you for that, Geoff. Appreciate it. I'm going to turn now to Amy, who's going to introduce our next panel.
Amy Scott: Thank you so much, and good morning to everyone. We're going to move this conversation to hear three specific policy proposals that address systemic racism in education. Each presenter is going to have five minutes and then we'll bring in another group of education experts to respond to those proposals based on their diverse experiences in the communities that they serve.
And I encourage everyone to check out the event web page, where you can find more details on the speakers' backgrounds, as well as the proposals you're about to hear. Up first, I'm happy to introduce Superintendent Michael Thomas from Colorado Springs School District 11, to focus on how adults can change the culture in schools to be more equitable. And I should say, Dr. Thomas, I'm a proud graduate of your school district—of course, long before your time. Welcome.
Michael Thomas: Thank you. Great to be here. And I will just share with the listening audience, this is my third year in Colorado Springs. I'm a Minnesota native, the Twin Cities is my home, and so it's good to be back in some of these spaces and some of these conversations with a lot of my colleagues there, as well as around the country.
I appreciate the words that we've heard today, and I'll just echo a few. I have long stated that education is the infrastructure of America. It is the one institution that I would say all of us have gone through, whether it's public or private for about [inaudible] thirds of our lives. It is the greatest social experiment, if you will, of bringing us all together to understand our personal and communal ideals.
And we saw this even more evident during COVID: Schools were closed; what happened to our economy? What happened to our communities? Things were in a state of disarray because it's such an anchor for who we are. And we look at what we've heard this morning already, just the sheer diversification of the K-12 space, and more and more students are coming into our classroom looking like me, but the responsiveness of who we are as educators is not mirroring that. And so we create this cultural divide pertaining to educators' competence and their ability to be responsive. Neel Kashkari asked, Do we see ourselves in people that we interact with every day? And I would extend that to say, Do we see individuals that we interact with every day in ourselves? I cannot impose who I am in to somebody, but I can accept somebody for who they are into me, and how I could possibly be changed. It's a two-fold street.
And, I think there are clear actions that demonstrate, as Mr. Canada alluded to, that some students are valued while millions of others are not. Like Mr. Canada, it was in fourth grade that it was very clear to me who I was being told I was and what my future capabilities were. Fourth grade! And I'm a different generation than Jeffrey Canada. So it didn't change, as he's talked about. And we repeatedly wash ourselves of guilt, masked in these capitalist ideals that it's okay and that there's always going to be a socially accepted quote/unquote underclass. And so if you fall into that category, we can accept that because that's capitalism at play. So I think that's a challenge that finds itself into our classrooms as well, those same ideals. And if we're going to change, in my experience of over 25 years in education, the number one change entry point that I exploited was the adult organizational culture that drives and often supersedes that of our students.
K-12 education really hasn't changed much since the common school movement in the inception of education in this country. And it's been a stratifying experiment. And so as educators and as a leader in education, my number one goal was to focus on how do I change that adult organizational competence and responsiveness to be able to see every single student for who they are. Granted, not every student comes to our campuses equally prepared. We know that, and we're going to hear about that in terms of our pre-K work and the gaps that are created there. But if we're going to address the achievement disparities, we have to make sure that we're seeing that every adult in our schools actually believes every student has equal and intrinsic worth. And we don't see that. We absolutely don't.
And so where I've made investments—whether it was my early work in education, doing a lot of clinical Afrocentric [inaudible] to validation of African American students in the classrooms, or to my deep partnership with the Innocent Classroom when I was in the Minneapolis area and their ability to see the virtue or the good in every student, or even just [inaudible] Capturing Kids' Hearts and the Flippen Group. And every single one of these aspects we look at surrounding our schools and how we're making that investment in who they need to become to be more responsive to the students before them each and every day. And I would be more than happy to talk as we go into the panel discussion, to go in depth about this.
But I think that's the number one focus area I would like to bring into this space so that we can get those outcomes that we desire for our students. Now we've heard if every student succeeds no matter what their background is, we know the economic return in this country into the GDP that it will have. And when you do not make that investment now, and we're seeing that, we're paying for it. We're paying for it in some form or fashion and it's far more economically sound to do that on the front side, with K-12 education than the reactionary side, whether it's prisons or the lack of job preparedness and ample workforce to fill the positions that many of our businesses are craving today.
Scott: All right. Thank you, Dr. Thomas. I look forward to hearing more about how to change how adults view their students and ensure that they see each student as having equal intrinsic worth. We're going to move to Myra Jones Taylor, who is chief policy officer of ZERO TO THREE, who will be talking about early childhood development.
Myra Jones-Taylor: Thank you, Amy. And thank you so much to the Federal Reserve for inviting us to be part of this conversation. I'm going to talk about two things you may not associate with education policy or even early childhood education policy: babies and family economic security. And specifically, two often-overlooked contributors to economic security. And that is predictable work schedules and paid family and medical leave. And I assure you that if the ed were to focus on its efforts, on promoting these policies and making sure they are thinking babies, it would lead to better education and economic outcomes for this entire country. So first, why babies? All babies are born learning. We know that 1 million new neural connections are formed every second in the early years of a child's life, laying the foundation for learning in school and productivity later in life. And if you care about education, the economy, and the future of this nation, you must start with policies that contribute to the healthy development of babies—all babies, especially babies of color.
Fifty-one percent of babies in this country last year ... that were born in [inaudible] were children of color. And on the face of it, that should be neutral information. That's just one data point. But in this country, you must add on the fact that that means that they have to face the ever-present effects of racial discrimination, of structural racism in this country. And that means that 51 percent of children and their families are more likely to encounter systemic barriers. And if you really want to support babies of color, you cannot overlook the role family economic security, or lack of it, plays in their healthy development. So then, why family economic security? There is a direct connection between family economic security and child development. Young children develop in the context of their environments. And we know that stable environments, we know that supportive relationships, nurturing relationships, promote growth and healthy development. And instability that comes from unstable housing, food insecurity, and material need hamper that healthy development and growth.
And these are all issues, of course, that we know so many families are facing in the midst of the pandemic. According to the University of Oregon's RAPID-EC project, more than half of young families that are experiencing financial hardship are also facing emotional distress. And this is in large part due to their lack of economic security. Right? We also know that families most likely to face material hardship during COVID, regardless of socioeconomic status are Black and brown families—really important in this discussion. So we know young children thrive when predictable responsive care and routines provide that trusting and safe environment for them. Relationships and routines matter. We know that quality and stability of children's relationships lay the foundation for all future development, as I said earlier.
They also promote self-confidence, sound mental health, motivation to learn, achievement in school later in life, the ability to control aggressive impulses and resolve conflicts, and having the capacity to develop and sustain friendships and intimate relationships, right? All of these things are important and they stem from these stable environments that, unfortunately, are thwarted by policies like unpredictable work schedules and the lack of paid leave. So, let's take a look at those two policy areas really quickly. So, just-in-time scheduling or work schedules that are unpredictable and irregular, they proliferate in this country. You know that two in five infants and toddlers live in households with low income whose families are likely to have highly unpredictable work schedules.
A recent study found nearly three in four workers with low wages experienced at last-minute shift changes, impeding their ability to plan for things like childcare and paying for rent and other experiences. We also know that over a third of young children in households with low income have a parent who receives less than a week's notice when it comes to their schedules. All of these things impact economic security. When scheduling practices are volatile, so is income. Economic volatility can lead to material hardships, which can deprive young children of material ... of all the things that they need for health and success in life.
We also know that a lack of paid family leave impedes child development. As we discussed earlier, family stability depends on dependable income and time to nurture with your family. And without paid family leave policies, we know so many families are making the gut-wrenching decisions between staying home and taking care of a young child or an elder, often we see, and actually making sure they have the money to make ends meet. So, there are some things—and I'll cut to the chase—that we can do that can really address this, that I implore the Fed to consider. That is thinking about these two issues: predictable work schedules and paid family leave. We know that only one of the 12 Reserve Banks serves areas where all states have paid family medical leave, that's New York. We know that seven of the 12 Reserve Banks serve areas with no statewide paid family leave.
And while we don't have the data on states with legislation for just-in-time scheduling, we know that nationally, 20 percent of the workforce are subjected to these nonstandard schedules. So we can do something right now. We could pass Schedules That Work Act, that is going to be reintroduced in Congress this year. And we can pass the FAMILY Act. And I want to acknowledge that many state efforts that are currently happening right now in the country to do this, including in Minnesota, where I understand that the feed from the medical leave bill last year had 10 committee hearings. I hope that this year we'll get out of committee and get the vote that it deserves. But of course, if we pass the FAMILY Act, we won't have to worry about the state-by-state approach. We will make sure that all families have access to this critical care, because if you do not have family economic security, and if you do not focus on the needs of babies, all these things that we're talking about for education success later really will be undermined and much harder to achieve. Thank you.
Scott: Thank you, Dr. Jones-Taylor for those [inaudible] ideas. Finally, we have retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, founder of Page Education Foundation, with a constitutional solution to racism in education.
Justice Alan Page: Thank you, Amy. Let me begin with these words from a former justice of the United States, written incurrence in a housing discrimination case: slavery unwilling to die. That, in some measure, is what we're faced with. We are in a time when our federal constitution doesn't provide any specific right to an education to children. Most states—virtually every state has a constitutional provision making the right to an education system available to children. The problem is that these state constitutions, the rights they're focused on, are focused on the system and not on children. And it seems to me that if we are to break out of the cycle that we're in, the system has to change. A system that systematically holds children of color down, keeps them that, doesn't value them. That system has to change. And so here in Minnesota, what we've proposed is amending our constitution, this Minnesota's Constitution, to be done in every state, to make a quality public education a civil right for every child, giving every child the opportunity to be put in the position to ... [inaudible] self.
What would that civil right ... what does that proposal call for? One, making education the civil right to a quality public education. Two, measure that quality. And one of the things we tend to do is conflate quality with the measurement tool. And we've ended up with a system of measuring and grading kids that has no bearing to helping them advance as students. The third thing, and maybe as important as anything, is our proposed amendment would make education a paramount duty of the state, ensuring that the state was responsible for the educational achievement and quality public schools for all kids. Right now, our systems [inaudible] on adequacy, the [inaudible] of the system, none of them put children first. And that's what I think we need to do. And that's what making education a civil right would do.
Now, mind you, a civil right without a remedy isn't of much value. And so, one of the things that would change for children, besides giving them a voice in their own futures, is that there would be a remedy for when their right to a quality public education wasn't being fulfilled. They would have a right to be able to go to court and have that right vindicated. That is, I think, game changing. Indeed, it can become a catalyst for putting a system in place that will allow all children to thrive. When you think about it, we've heard it time and time again this morning about how our system is failing children, and instead of spending the money on educating them, we're spending the money on incarcerating them and various other forms of remedial efforts to try to address the ongoing problems that come with the failure to educate children.
But every lost child, every child who doesn't get educated, is a diminished taxpayer, is a diminished employee, and a potential burden on our community. And I think that by making education a civil right and giving children the opportunity to reach their highest selves, we can bring about change. We can bring about justice—not only educational justice, but justice in housing, justice in health, social justice, racial justice, and economic justice.
Scott: Thank you so much, Justice Page. I look forward to talking more about all of these proposals, which we're going to do now as we move to our conversation with some other experts in the field of education. We're going to respond based on their experiences in the communities that they serve. And as a reminder, you can find speaker bios on the event web page. Also, you'll have a chance to join the conversation later on. You can feel free to ask questions on Twitter using the hashtag #racismandtheeconomy. And we'll try to get as many of those in as we can.
First, I'm going to turn to Cheryl Crazy Bull of the American Indian College Fund. What did you hear in these proposals today that connects with the work that you do?
Cheryl Crazy Bull: Thank you. And good morning, everybody. I'm happy to be here. So I've worked in what we call tribally controlled education, from my entire [inaudible]. I just want to share some connections, I think, with what the speakers shared and this work. So the visibility of indigenous children is a critical issue for all of us in education. And the concern that I would have, just kind of based on the feedback, that I want to give to the respondents is that we aren't visible. We're not visible in the discussion about economic [inaudible]. We're not visible in the discussion about our representation in curriculum. We're not visible, very often, in the discussion about what do teachers look like? What do school administrators look like? So I want to offer a couple of responses on maybe additional things that we could do. I suggest that we could reform teacher education and the development of school leaders.
I think we need to have those individuals now, for their future participation in the educational system. We need to have them better trained on how to be inclusive and how to honor and recognize the cultural contributions and the economic status of our children. I think that education would benefit from learning about how indigenous peoples view children, how we view infants. When I listened to the discussion about early childhood education, among the Lakota, we call our children wakanjeja, which means they're close to the sacred. So if we have a good investment in early childhood education, we take all teachings about who children are and how you take care of them, and we make that a more formal experience for people. And then when I think about the civil right of education, I think of the inherent rights that we have as human beings.
So over the years that indigenous peoples have participated in education in this country, it has always intended to diminish our identity and diminish the ways that we could contribute to a more democratic society. So when I think about what we think the education of children is, we think it is to make children better human beings. The economic aspect of that is that children grow into adults who can take care of their families and provide for their communities and contribute to tribal self-determination. So if I make connections among all the things that people will share to see where we as indigenous peoples have an important contribution to make and an important collaborative role to have. So, thank you, Amy.
Scott: Thank you. I want to bring in Gerard Robinson, who's the vice president of education at the Advanced Studies in Culture Foundation. You have a lot of experience in running state education systems and I'm wondering what you heard this morning that you think can be put to work, sooner rather than later.
Gerard Robinson: Amy, thank you for the kind words. Neel, thank you for the invitation. I want to say hello again to everyone and Happy New Year. So I heard three really good proposals and all of them provide a unique take on the delivery of teaching and learning. So when I think about Superintendent Thomas, one of the things I would start with is take a look at his dissertation, which actually focused on Black men and how they have to navigate the cultural nuances of being in a white school. [Inaudible] talk about the aspect of culture and what that takes a look at. And we often overlook our conversations about leadership. Not only race, but also gender. As we're talking about Black men, they make up less than 2 percent of the teaching population. Many of those teachers later become school principals and superintendents. And so there's some class dynamics, there's some race dynamics, but also gender, often in a way that we don't look.
One of the things I liked about his proposal is focusing on leadership. And often, when we discuss education at the state level, we focus on administration. Leadership is a part of administration, but you can have administrators who aren't involved in leadership. And that requires vision, and then it requires unique partnering. And so, when I think about the billions of dollars we spend annually on states in Title II funding, and that money is used to develop principals. And again, many of them will become superintendents. I think that we need to find unique ways of having departments of education who have Title II funds and other funds to partner with its state department of commerce or the appropriate division, because in many departments of commerce or business, they also have funds—some federal, some philanthropic—which are used to develop leadership. And by actually doing what I call an interagency approach, you're bringing in people in the business sector to work with those in the education sector to learn from one another, because I think there are things that the business sector could learn as well. And so I think the leadership part works there.
When I think about Chief Policy Officer Jones-Taylor and her ZERO TO THREE, I'm sold on the idea. In both Florida and Virginia and even in DC, when I worked for the superintendent of schools there, I believe that early childhood matters. But just think how far we've come from Brown v. Board of Education when we're talking about early childhood education. At that time, we were talking about Black girls and white girls. Today, we're talking about Black brains and white brains, but really about brains in general. And the fact that you have states right now that have early childhood programs, her proposal goes even further than some of those. But I think it's a very unique way of bringing real science into the conversation of early childhood development. Now, the interesting part about this is that, as many people like me who like it, it is a politically charged issue. Why? Well, some people are concerned that when we say ZERO TO THREE, we want to create a Nannygate or nanny state. And that we want [inaudible] to tell parents how to raise children. Some may want that, others do not.
You also have competing interests on who will we be responsible for it. So my recommendation would be, if we're looking at this from the state level, is to have a 60-30-10 model. The Department of Education should be 60 percent responsible for the work that goes into this. We should have 30 percent fall to the Department of Health and Human Services, or whatever your state will call your department, because there are health professionals that we often don't find in departments of education, although there are some who can provide some expertise, know-how, and networks that we may not have in our state department of education. And the last 10 percent, I would say, you have to involve the Department of Commerce. And here's why. We opened up this conversation talking about revenue, talking about the economic sustainability of our country and what we need for economic mobility. Well, if we say that, we need to have the business community involved early. Ten percent is enough to not only be a funder, but a small—honestly, a small—footprint in the conversation.
Looking at it that way brings again, interagency approach, that 10 years ago I would not have thought about. As relates to Justice Page, his idea of talking about children and civil rights is also unique. Think of the language. He said, "children." And while it sounds simple, it's actually a big distinction with a big policy difference. When we talk about students, we often talk about them as a number, as a person in a seat, as someone we count twice—once in the fall and once in the spring. But we're talking about children. We're talking about what takes place during school time, after school, during the summer. It's a holistic approach. And so I liked the fact that we're talking about children. Some governors, in fact, have created a children's cabinet. They didn't call it a student cabinet. They call it a children's cabinet because they believe that health, science, education, business, fun, sports—it was a holistic approach. And so I think that's something to look at. I'm a big believer of [inaudible] that rights matter.
The one concern that I have is I think we can accomplish a lot of what we want in education without making it a civil right. And here's why. When you make education a civil right, you will maybe unintentionally raise the level and importance of the day-to-day involvement of judges and lawyers, and minimize principals and teachers. Some of that will be judicially driven, some of that will be statutorily driven. Something to keep in mind. When we make education a civil right, we elevate Black and brown, often at the expense of Native American and often leaving whites and Asians out of the equation, as much as we'd like to think that Asian students are a miracle minority. When you desegregate the data and take a look at students like the monk community we know in Minneapolis or other places, there's a lot of diversity.
And so, I think there's a way of actually bringing in all students and getting the things that we want with the current laws we have, with the rules that we have in place, with some of the resolutions that we have at the local level. We can make it a civil right; I just would be very clear about what that would mean in terms of what it means for teachers. And I think these are important. I'm glad that the Federal Reserve Board is taking a leadership role in it.
Scott: All right. Thank you so much. I want to bring in Deborah Santiago, who is co-founder and CEO of Excelencia in Education, for some of your responses.
Deborah Santiago: Thank you, Amy. And thank you all for your framing and the context, and for this conversation. I was writing my notes as I was listening to our colleagues share their policy ideas and suggestions. I unapologetically look at this with a Latino lens, not to the exclusion of any other group, but we know this is young, fast-growing population. If you look at issues that seem intractable in different ways, when you look at the evolving communities that we need to be serving to be inclusive overall. And so, three key points that stood out to me of the recommendations and then three areas that I think we need to be concrete in terms of action, but I hope can spur more conversation.
First, I think that broadly speaking, as a country, we want to make sure we're committed to educating all. And that's often given as a core goal, and I know that's critically important, but as we heard from Neel Kashkari from the very beginning, there are lots of gaps. I don't need to repeat that, but certainly, disproportionately, Latinos as well as our colleagues of color all the way around on the country [inaudible]. I think that to address racism and address the core equity—that is, the historical element that leads us to the space—we've got to own those gaps and have to acknowledge. We have to keep it real. If we were truly educating all in this country, we wouldn't see gaps in progress and attainment. And that to me is a core framing of what I heard some of what Dr. Thomas was saying.
But that means that the opportunity to act is say, we have to be unapologetic in figuring out how do we target those areas of need so that as a country, we're truly educating all. That's a concrete way of saying we need to make sure we're paying attention, we're disaggregating our data, we're looking at opportunities to invest, and we're making sure that we're doing so and seeing if there's an impact. And to me, that's core. I say I'm a data nerd. I speak Spanish, English, and data, and data is a component but it's not all of what we need to pay attention to. So for me, the takeaway from some of what Dr. Thomas shared is that we have to make sure there's a framework here that sees our communities as assets and be asset-based, not deficit-based in the thinking that happens so much, because that informs policy and therefore investment practice.
When we talk about our work, we talk about the opportunities we have, not the crisis. Some people throw money at crisis, but they invest in opportunity. How do we make sure we're talking about adjusting and adapting our educational needs? And one that is an opportunity to invest in, which we all benefit, rather than investing so that others can benefit. That, to me, is a core framing for policy and practice and in financial investment. Second, I think the effort and what was raised about the ZERO TO THREE and Dr. Jones-Taylor, we know that Latinos are disproportionately represented in that ZERO TO THREE student body, as well as the parents of them. And again, this is not to be either/or, but it's a way of framing, a way of thinking that's concrete. [Inaudible] to appreciate economic security needed too often, there are assumptions and interpretations made based on our own experience. Those of us who are of the majority and are college educated, which means we are people with privilege. We represent the minority of people in this country, and we can't just interpret data and actions by others based on what we would do, because we have that privilege and know the system and structure. We shouldn't assume that of others. And so when we think about educating the zero-three and making the investments in economic security and work schedules, let's also pay attention to the fact that we need to educate our parents, that's the collegiate part of what we do at Excelencia In Education. Look, it shouldn't be either on ZERO TO THREE in higher education [Inaudible] parents are a child's first teachers. So how do we make sure that we have a policy and strategy that integrates the two? That's, I think, what I heard from Dr. Jones-Taylor, but I would double down on the importance of making sure we're paying attention to those that need it the most. And we make sure that we're investing in that in a way that's more equitable. To me that's a structural way of approaching the inequities we see overall.
And third, I've heard critical comments from Justice Page about the quality of public education as a civil right. Again, in my organization, we focus on Latinos and higher education. I know that K-12 is compulsory and there is an opportunity there to address quality, but we often get focused on how to measure it. When we know at the end of that, there are trade-offs between efficiency and effectiveness and what we measure and what we don't measure. And that becomes a way of, how do we define quality in a critical way that makes sure we're serving all of our students well, and with intentionality. That, to me, is what stood out about how do we define the civil right and the quality of public education that we need. We've got to find a way to make sure we're paying attention to the trade-offs [inaudible]. And education is a human enterprise, it's not going to be efficient to be effective. That's an opportunity I think we have, if we can reframe that thinking then what is it that it's going to take to make our students successful? Thank you, Amy.
Scott: Thank you so much. Finally, we have Linda K. Smith, director of Early Childhood Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. And I'd love to hear, given your early childhood focus especially, your response to the proposal on the importance of babies, basically, centering babies and family economic security.
Linda K. Smith: Well, let me just start this by saying thank you to the Federal Reserve for having this and including early childhood, because we frequently don't include early childhood, and then especially babies, in our conversations about education. So it was a critical thing that that decision was made and thank you for that. We want to focus a little bit on what Myra said in terms of putting forward the issues around the workforce issues, the scheduling issues, the leave issues of parents and the stress we put on them.
And then also in terms of the importance and the impact of some of these things on the development of our youngest children. I think it goes without saying that this country now understands neuroscience and that these years are critical to what happens with our children later on. In that regard, I want to just note that it extends beyond the parents' work schedules, and it's important to keep parents in front of this conversation. But it also goes beyond that because as we have [inaudible] of childcare in this country, and nothing has been exacerbated more than the COVID-19 experience that we've just been through.
So we have a lack of childcare, especially for infants and toddlers. It costs a lot of money here in the District of Columbia. It's $24,000 a year for infant care. The quality of it is a problem, and we have a poorly paid workforce, a workforce that they themselves, 50 percent of our childcare workforce, qualify for public assistance. So we have a very complicated program. Many of us knew that before COVID, but now the world knows that. And so I think it's important.
I want to say first, then, that childcare is where a roughly 12 million of our children get their early education. So we cannot discount the fact that these environments matter for children, as Myra said. So I think when we start this conversation, that's number one. Two, to Justice Page's remarks, I think this is where I think what he had to say is extremely important to this country, because what he was saying, in effect, is that children do not have a right to an education. But think now, what I just said and what Dr. Jones-Taylor just said, is that if learning begins at birth, most of our education policies in this country begin at kindergarten entry.
So do we really believe that childcare and early learning begin at birth? And then if they do, then we need a comprehensive strategy for looking at our education system that begins at birth and not at school entry. And so I think, to Dr. or to Justice Page's point, I think that's something that we all on this call should think about. There are implications to that because the cost of doing that is really critical. Unlike education in this country, childcare is a business, and I think that became very apparent during COVID. When the schools closed, the teachers got paid, the buildings were still there. The lights were still on. When COVID hit childcare, they were closed. The teacher [inaudible] ... just got late. There was no way to pay the rent, and many of them have gone out of business. So we need to think about our business model for early childhood in this country, and how do we begin to figure out how we can pay the workforce what they need to do a good job of providing for our youngest children, and at the same time, it becomes affordable to parents.
Because that gap between the cost of producing care and what parents can afford to pay is stopping so much of the quality of what we have and need in this country. I think the other thing that we know we have a problem with is we have an overall gap of what is available to parents. We just finished a study of 25 states around the country. We showed our analysis of what we have for childcare and early care and education and the potential need for care of 31 percent. That many people lack access.
And even if they had it, the quality of what they're accessing is sometimes questionable. So I think we have a lot of work to do. We need to reexamine the business model of childcare and start thinking about [inaudible] a better system that essentially puts parents and children at the forefront. And I want to close with just one more statistic. I think in childcare, in particular, early childhood, we know the expulsion rates are such a big issue in early care in education facilities with preschool programs expelling children at roughly three times the rate that schools do. Now, that's criminal when you think about the pathway that you set children on by kicking them out of a childcare center or a preschool program at age 3. What is going to happen with that child in that family down the road? So I think we've got a lot of things to consider, but we really do need to start with a policy that begins at birth and not at school entry. And so I'll turn it back over to you, and thank you for that.
Scott: Thank you very much. We only have a little less than 20 minutes left. So I want to bring back our policy [inaudible] enters and give them a chance to respond [inaudible]. And I'd like to start with Justice Page, because Gerard Robinson raised the question of whether we really need a constitutional civil right or if there's a lot we can do without that. And also he raised the question of some unintended consequences of getting the courts overly involved in education policy. And I'd love to have you ... give you ... a chance to respond to that.
Page: Well, my first response is, Do we need a constitutional amendment? Could what would flow from our constitutional amendment, could that happen without it? Theoretically, yes, but it hasn't. We have had, I mean, I've been thinking about and talking about these educational issues for 50-plus years. Things haven't gotten better. We need some catalyst to bring about change. The other point that I would make, we're talking about an individual right, so that all children and each child has a right to a quality public education. So that indigenous children—what they receive, what they need to get a quality public education may be different from what a Black child needs—but they have a right to ... an individual right to ... that quality public education. And as far as the concerns about litigation, what litigation might cost pales in comparison with the devastating effect of leaving children behind. And again, our proposal is to put children first, so that, in effect, every child would have an [inaudible] plan.
Scott: All right. Michael Thomas, we heard mostly positive responses, I would say, to your proposal and I was really interested in Cheryl Crazy Bull's statement that indigenous students, in particular, are invisible too often to their teachers, to the systems, to the national conversation. I imagine that that comes up in District 11, given that there is a Native population in Colorado Springs. How do you see making those students seen along with the other students that you're advocating for?
Thomas: Yes. I think she brings up a very important point that we need to make sure that we're seeing and hearing all of our students. And as Justice Page said, every student is going to need something different based upon the backgrounds that they bring into our classrooms. And we have to understand that, and this goes back to my earlier point. If I can build my adult context for who this student is, be it from an indigenous community, Black community, Latinx community, I need—not that I have to be the expert of that—but I need to have deep empathy to know what that means to be that student and how I can be more responsive to that student, because that's where the "ownness" is. The students don't come to us broken and failures; they come to us ready, willing, and able to learn.
It is on the adults to understand who is before you each and every day. And in District 11, you know, we are the first school district. In my second year of being there, we passed a board-level policy around equity, being very explicit about our deep commitment to seeing and hearing every student. And the reason why that's important, it speaks to the local level of what Justice Page is talking about. It is our proclamation of having a civil right in District 11, and we need to make sure our practices—when I'm gone, when other staff are gone—what policy holds true that this work won't fall apart, just because they so happen to have maybe someone like myself who deeply cares about seeing and responding to every single student. But this is not Michael's school district. This is the Colorado Springs school district.
I will come and go, community and generations yet to come are here forever. And I'll just echo also what Dr. Taylor said. You know, my experience ... my very first year of being a principal. I was in a predominantly Liberian and Latin community. That was my school demographic and when I looked at the learning disparities that were occurring in my school, for me, it was very clear. If I was going to address this gap that we always want to focus on, it's too late by the time they get into my school. It's far too late. It's a background knowledge gap, and I think the emphasis of looking at how we can support both traditional and nontraditional early childhood family education. Because many of my families, they weren't going into ECFE formally in the district, but you go out into those apartment complexes or the communities, they had ECFE happening.
How do we find ways to bring resource to those informal structures that primarily many communities of color have in place, but are being provided through the moms and pops, aunties, all those folks. It's, and again, how can we legislate resources to those types of supports that one are birthed and right there in the community, they are 99 percent times led by members of that community. And so you have immediate trust and rapport in relationship that can carry on both from the cradle, as when they're born, to now, when I received them as the formal institution of education.
And then you marry that with what I'm sharing, I think others talked about the investment in the educator prep. Now, you look at any educator prep program, leadership prep, you might have one class that [inaudible] ... something about culture and the social environment, whatever the title might be, as if that's going to bring you to expertise in knowing everyone. That's your introduction to a lifelong journey of knowing who you're serving and how you'll respond to those you serve. And again, I'll just close with the fact of being seen, Cheryl brought this up, and Gerard, you spoke to this too, in terms of some of my own personal research, of the 1,800 or so superintendents in the country, there's 50 that look like me— that's like less than a half percent.
And so it is very isolating being that voice of change and responsiveness to all students, but specifically students who have historically been marginalized or not had a voice at the table. And it's tiring, but this is what we're called to do. This is that communal change, that if we don't continue to bring this to the forefront and leverage our partners such as the Federal Reserve and other business side of things, because there are limited resources and the pie slices can only get sliced so many ways. So how do we find ways to bring that proactive resource on the front end, again, to the K-12, which is the infrastructure for all other industry in this country?
Scott: Myra, when I ask you, both Debra Santiago and Linda Smith raised the issue of equality in childcare, just having it isn't enough. And I wonder how you both define quality and ensure it, and where the funding .... [inaudible].
Jones-Taylor: Sure. Yes. I'd love to talk about that, and I do want to say two quick things, one about this children's rights frame, I think there's interesting conversation that's happening among child advocates and researchers around the country. I'll really be framing the way we talk about children's needs to a rights frame. And that allows you to do a lot of different things from a policy perspective. I think the question of whether or not it's the constitutional amendment, I won't weigh in there, but I think as we talk about these issues, when you frame it as a right, it allows you to actually ... there's more teeth to it.
And I'll give you an example. In Santa Clara County, where I'm from originally, California, they passed this whole Bill of Rights for children. And then they said in that legislation that there had to be a children's budget that was protected. And so whenever there were cuts, they could not be any more than 3 percent if they affected children. So I think, thinking about this frame there beyond a constitutional amendment, just really framing it is really important. I also want to speak quickly to this idea of an interagency role, I think Mr. Robinson mentioned this 60-30-10, and I want to do one better. Linda knows this, when I was a founding commissioner of early childhood in the state of Connecticut, we said that wasn't good enough to kind of split the needs of young children again, getting to this rights idea. The needs of young children across agencies, we need to actually focus on them and see them as unique constituents, if you will, in and of themselves.
So we created a cabinet-level agency. I was the commissioner, my boss was the governor, where we focused on the needs of young children. So all policies that focused on children were under our purview in the Office of Early Childhood. So from pre-K, childcare licensing, childcare subsidy, and early intervention, all of those things that lead to healthy child development and strong educational outcomes was there. So that, I would like to push back and say, we can actually do it better than that proposal, although I appreciate the sentiment.
Now getting to childcare and thinking about quality, we really have to get to this place where we go beyond what's easy to measure. So many systems across the country have what you would call a quality rating and improvement system. This is something that's been around for 20 years, and it was a market-based solution to address a real concern—that we had no way for parents to know what was quality in their community, childcare proliferated, pre-K proliferated, but there was no sense of what, if it was good, if it was going to do their children any good. And potentially, we know bad childcare—actually, research shows it can do you harm.
So in one, this is the solution to address that. The problem with that focus went into that R, that rating, that measurement. And when you have strapped resources and you're in government, you go to the things that are easy to measure, things you can quantify like ratios, who has a degree and who doesn't. The challenge is that early childhood development research makes it very clear those are kind of structural variables. It makes it very clear that there are process variables, things that are harder to measure, but actually have a direct relationship like a more direct line to positive child outcomes. Those are things like nurturing environments. The things I talked about earlier, strong relationships, bonding with the parent or the caregiver and the child. Those are the things that are really important when we think about quality. And they're often don't show up in these QRAS systems.
Not only that, we know so many children of color, especially immigrant families, families where they speak multiple languages, feel that they are not being served in their childcare programs, in their pre-K programs. And that their needs are not being met because they're actually seen as having being bilingual is a deficit, you have to frame it. We need to really think about what families are saying is quality, what is important to them, and measure that and make sure we see that in our systems and in our communities across the country. So I really want to have us reopen this conversation about quality and sure that we are not doing a lot of unintended consequences of really creating additional racialized and racist kind of practices.
Scott: We only have about five minutes left, but I wanted to get to sort of a fundamental surrounding this discussion, which is the focus on racial achievement gaps. And some have proposed that that very notion is racist, that the idea that there are certain groups of people that are performing at a lower level and that we should be looking at instead focusing on opportunity gaps and maybe changing the yardsticks for how we measure student outcomes. And I'd love to hear from any of you, whoever responds to that.
Jones-Taylor: I would say something briefly. I think the opportunity gap, I think that frame is really important. And I think for so long we assumed that if we just get kids quality education, especially—this is very prominent in the early childhood space—if we just gave them quality pre-K then, and there's lots of research that shows that they do much better, but that would right all wrongs. Yes, we see that there is a lot of potential, there's a lot of research that shows a quality early childhood education makes a huge difference. But if we do not address the race— the racism—and the family economic security issue, those huge yawning gaps that we see in family economic security, we make it so much harder on educators. We make it so much harder on childcare and early childhood. If we really created systems that supported families and establish a family's economic security, we would make education so much ... or educating our children so much easier.
Page: Achievement gaps, opportunity gaps, to me those ... I'm not sure what other words we can use, but in effect, they essentially stigmatize children. I tend to focus on the adult failures, that's what we have. It's not the children that are failing. It's those of us who are in the position and have the responsibility for educating them, we are the ones that have failed them. And so I would shift the focus in that direction.
Scott: Focusing on—
Smith: This is Linda. Can I comment on this one?
Smith: Because I think Dr. Canada said it very well in the beginning of this when he talked about the community and all that surrounds children. And I think, you can't say enough about how important it is to support parents, especially new parents. To Myra's point, how many young mothers go back to work at two weeks after giving birth in this country? We have really sad policies that support our families to begin with, and don't help families support their children. And then we look around and we point fingers at these things. So I think what we really need to do is reexamine sort of our support for our parents, our families, and our children. And that's a community thing. I think we've really got to get a better handle on some of these policies where we don't support parents.
Robinson: A great deal of what we discussed falls into the camp of achievement versus attainment. And we know that achievement, in fact, is a process that we used to obtain a lot of the gains that we want for children and the role of their families can play. There's also got to be a focus on attainment. How in fact do we measure this? Testing, I know, is a really tough subject for a whole number of reasons. I know that many students of color have not done well on tests, but yet, I know a number of students of color who actually aced some of the tests.
And so I think we have to make sure we keep attainment in this, not only to measure, but we also know—from data from a college board, from state departments of education, from universities—we have an idea of what attainment measures would at least give you a nod, the students are prepared to go into college. Because when I look at the millions in some states, overall billions, that we spend on college remediation for students who graduated from high school with a diploma, they told them they were college and career ready. That tells me, in fact, they weren't ready. It tells me some other things too, but I think achievement and attainment are part of the conversation.
Scott: Cheryl or Deborah, I'd love to give you a chance to respond.
Crazy Bull: Thank you. I think of it more as an investment and infrastructure challenge. So early childhood education that's place-based is a great investment. It engages families, it transforms the lives of those families. But helping students see themselves in different careers and different opportunities to pathways and support for, particularly children of color, to be able to attain that, that's an infrastructure change that has to occur in order for children to see themselves in our roles, right? To be able to do that. And then I think about the college fund [inaudible] great investment and equity and promoting equity in higher education through changing whether or not it's a safe and welcoming environment for students so that they can complete their education and achieve whatever their dream is and get into a career that takes care of their families. So I think of it more of, where are you investing and how are you changing the infrastructure and less so the issues of grades or that achievement and attainment. So thank you.
Scott: And Deborah Santiago, we'll give you a very quick last word on this before we wrap up.
Santiago: I'll just say this, I think what we really want is to make sure we get equal outcomes regardless how we started. We remediate all of those areas and I mean, in a positive way, not remediation in a negative way, to get to outcomes, because that's fundamentally the structural inequity that created those issues to begin with.
Scott: I want to thank you all so much and at this point, I'm going to turn it over to Raphael Bostic, president of the Atlanta Fed.
Raphael Bostic: Thank you, Amy, for a great moderation. Thanks to all the panelists for just a very interesting conversation. It's my great privilege to be able to have a conversation with Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy and whose mission is to ... and I'm going to read this ... "to promote a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. More than 61 million registered users access the Khan Academy online and through dozens of languages and more than 190 countries. He's got a long bio; I'm not going to go through all that here because I want to get right to the conversation. So first just welcome, Sal, it's good to have you with us.
Sal Khan: Good to be here, Raphael.
Bostic: So I wanted to talk about the two words that jumped out at me were "world-class." And we've had a lot of conversation today about students coming to the classroom in different places in terms of preparation and experience and all that. What's your business model? What's your philosophy on how you make sure that that world-class education is experienced by students, regardless of how they come to the Academy?
Khan: Yeah. It's a big question and you know that mission statement, I'm now back operating in the walk-in closet where Khan Academy all started over a decade ago. But I remember it was in 2007 when I filled out the paperwork with the IRS to be not-for-profit and this, you know, many people know this started as a family project. I was tutoring cousins, and then I was making videos for them. I was writing software for them and I started getting letters from people all over the world saying how it was helping them. And it started to dawn on me that, "Look, if it's helping my cousins, if it's helping people of all walks of life from around the world, there's no reason that things like this—and it would be a never-ending journey—could one day serve maybe everyone." And I remember in the paperwork with the IRS where it says, "Mission:" They give you a bottom line and a half, I filled out, "A free world-class education for anyone, anywhere."
And it was kind of a delusional statement for a guy sitting in a walk-in closet. Maybe it's still is a delusional statement, but in hindsight, I feel like it was somewhat inspired because there was two things that were contrasting in there—free and world-class. Because all too often in philanthropy or in not-for-profits, we kind of have an attitude like, "Okay. What are the rich getting? What are the affluent getting?" And you say, "Okay. That's nice. That'd be awesome, but that's expensive. So maybe we can get a cheaper version of that for the poor, and then that'll be pretty good."
And honestly, in kind of the nonvirtual world, you kind of have to make that compromise if you want to scale in a lot of circumstances. But here I felt there was an opportunity where the very same resources that the most affluent people could use could also be used by the least affluent people. And I was already seeing that back in 2007, 2008, when I still had a day job as an analyst at an investment firm. I was getting letters from people running NGOs, trying to get content to people, kids who didn't have shoes in India, people working in Boys and Girls Clubs in inner city America.
At the same time, I was getting letters from very affluent people working in tech, telling me how it was improving the lives of their kids. And I actually took comfort in that, that they were all accessing the same thing. But that by itself isn't going to solve what you're talking about. We're still on this never-ending journey. COVID has put a big spotlight on the digital divide; resources like Khan Academy are predicated on having some form of digital access. If there's a silver lining of COVID, I think it's putting more energy behind closing it. Khan Academy alone is not a holistic world-class education, you need many, many other things. There's definitely examples of young kids around the world who are so motivated they are able to take Khan Academy and run with it and do incredible things. But most children need a combination of incredible in-person supports, incredible support from friends and family, and access to great content, access to great tools. But it's going to be a long journey. And the situation is ... it's much more complex than just creating world-class things and then providing it to folks. And you asked for our business model, we're primarily philanthropically funded, that's our business model.
But we do think it's a big piece of it, that there's three pillars. Can we make all of the content from pre-K through the core of college across academic subjects available to literally anyone on the planet? We have 48 translation projects. The second pillar is can we provide it in a way that's personalized to their needs? We know every kid has different needs, different gaps, how do we help them meet that and engage in it? And then the third pillar is, how do you take that learning and connect it to opportunity?
Bostic: So let me ask you a question on that second pillar, which is personalizing the content, because I think that's at the crux of where my first question was, which is how do you do that and how do you get this to scale? Because one thing I'd be worrying about if we're going to apply this at scale, how do we make sure that it fits for purpose for every person, but also really reaches everyone and we don't have people fall through the cracks?
Khan: Yeah. These are both super important questions. The reach question, these are questions of digital divide. These are questions of not just digital divide, but are you in an environment either at home or at school that is embracing these and using these tools well? Any tool can be used very well and any tool can be used very badly. And so on the reach side, we're not in a position to deploy satellites, but we are talking to the people who are in a position to deploy satellites and cell phone towers and put fiber in the ground. And I do see really good movement there. But on top of that, especially in the United States, we've been working very closely with large urban school districts because we realized that's really going to be the way that we reach on the order of 40 million students, K through 12 students, in this country. And we have over 200,000 teachers who've used Khan Academy on their own. We call those grassroots teachers. But oftentimes, the teacher right next door to them isn't using Khan Academy.
And Khan Academy isn't the end all and be all, but it does allow a teacher ... you know, every teacher knows that there's 30 kids in the room with 30 different needs. Some have gaps from a couple of grade levels before, some are ready for grade-level material, some are ready to move on, and they all learn at different paces. But one teacher with 25, 30, 35 kids, it's very hard to personalize for that. And so in those contexts, we view Khan Academy as kind of a teacher's assistant. The teacher can let students work at their own time and pace, get some micro lessons, get as much practice and feedback as they need. And then teachers get real-time information saying, "All right, Sal's having trouble with that, but Raphael's ready to move ahead. Why don't you do a focus intervention with Sal?" So we're trying to work with districts to make sure that we can get it to more folks. But this personalization issue—and a closely related idea is mastery learning or competency-based learning.
I do strongly believe that this is the central pivot that we need to make in how we view education. We already see the data. In our traditional model, we cover material. Maybe you have a couple of weeks of coverage and homework then you give the test. You get a 90 percent, I get an 80 percent, even though the test identified gaps in our knowledge, and those are considered pretty good scores. We move on to the next subject. And the next subject, especially in a lot of STEM subjects, oftentimes builds on the one that we just identified gaps. And those gaps just keep accumulating. You get to an algebra class. And all of a sudden, that equation involves dividing decimals, where I missed 20 percent; has negative numbers, where I might not have known 15 percent; has fractions from fifth grade that I might've not known 30 percent—there's no way I'm going to engage in that algebra. And we see that happening at a national level. Seventy percent, seven-zero percent of all kids—and these are high school graduates, so these aren't the kids who dropped out and they're going to community college—have to take remedial math.
And remedial math at the community college level is not 11th grade math or 12th grade math, it's sixth grade math. They're saying that you're not even ready yet to learn college algebra, which is really another name for ninth or 10th grade algebra. And in four-year colleges, it's not much better. Cal State system, 65 percent of kids who are high school graduates showing up at four-year college have to take essentially six to seventh grade math, because they have so many gaps in their knowledge. And so it's clear that what we're doing is not serving most students well, and so we need to figure out a way that they can do mastery learning well before they get to that point. And we all know when you get placed into those remedial classes in college, it's the biggest predictor of dropping out or not graduating with debt, or having to switch majors to something that's "easier," but probably not as lucrative.
Bostic: Well I have to totally agree with you on this. I like the focus on gaps and competencies. One of the reasons I think we don't have diversity in finance and economics is precisely this: that by the time people get to high school, they've given up on finance, math, all that kind of stuff, because they know they're so far behind that it's just not for them. And it's a real barrier to getting participation because people don't have that competency. So we're working in the Federal Reserve System to build better curricula for fifth graders and eighth graders to try to get that confidence and close those gaps at a much earlier level, very similar to what you're doing.
I'm curious, there's been a lot of talk through the course of the session today around the institution of education. And the content that you're providing is an overlay to that. I'm wondering what the response has been. Have you gotten pushback in terms of the nature of the content, questioning its validity? Are you getting pushback on teaching pedagogy and methods and all that kind of stuff? How has it been received and what things do you think can be done to have your approach adopted in a more broad way?
Khan: It's been mixed. I think in the early days, we were the beneficiary, back in 2010, 2011 when people started to really notice Khan Academy and we started getting some of our first philanthropic funding. We were getting these really, I would say, great, hyperbolic headlines where it said stuff like, "The math of Khan," that's my favorite headline. That was the San Francisco Chronicle. I'm a Trekkie. But there were these other very ... "The future of education," all of that. And there were, for the most part, really good teachers who are sitting in the classroom and like, "Wait, there's some dilettante former hedge fund analyst who tutors his cousin, and now all of a sudden he shows up and everyone's calling him ..." like, whatever, I mean, "the Messiah of math" and all this kind of stuff. And they're like, "Screw that guy. I'm with these kids day in, day out, I'm solving their problems; this is teaching."
And I think over the years, people have appreciated, and we've been very clear about it because we know that that impression can sometimes happen that like, "Oh, there's these folks in Silicon Valley who think that technology's going to solve everyone's problems. It's a silver bullet." That is not us. I've been very clear that if I could pick for myself, for my own children, or anyone's children between an amazing teacher and amazing technology, if I had to pick, I'd pick the amazing teacher every time. Now, the ideal is, you have amazing technology, amazing tools in service to the amazing teacher. So the more that people have appreciated that, there's, I would call it, three big use cases of Khan Academy depending on people's contexts. Our ideal use case is what I had just described, where we can be almost that teaching assistant to support that teacher.
And that's why we have over 200,000 teachers using us and they do find it really valuable to be able to personalize it for their students, to be able to have information, formative learning data that before they only got when they administered the unit test. And by that time it's too late. You have to move on to the next concept. So that's where we've actually been putting most of our energies, on that practice teacher tool side of things. There's another use case, major use case, of students' families using Khan Academy on their own. We did a survey at four-year colleges and we asked first-generation students, "Has Khan Academy had a meaningful impact on your education?" We thought it'd be lucky if 5 percent said yes. Sixty-five percent of first-generation college students said, "Khan Academy had a meaningful impact on my education."
And for the most part, they were saying, "It was the tutor that my family otherwise could not afford, and it was my access to rigorous content that sometimes my school did not offer. The school on the other side of the railroad tracks, when they taught calculus, it was a rigorous calculus class. But my school, they called it a calculus class." But there's a good study by TNTP, they've talked about the opportunity myth, where disproportionately in school serving kids from historically under-resourced groups, they call it a calculus, but it's a significantly watered-down class. So those kids, even when they do well, they're shocked when they go to college, saying, "Wait, I wasn't prepared for this." And it's not those kids' fault, it's because literally ... I mean we could debate it was expectations, it might have been this gap issue, lack of mastery learning. But these kids cite, "By going to Khan Academy, I was able to access a truly world-class calculus class. And if I wasn't prepared for it because my pre-calculus class was watered down, well Khan Academy supports mastery learning, I can go back and I can master those concepts as well."
And then the third use case, and I think this is for the most part not in, say, the U.S., but there's definitely context where kids have access to no school. There's incredible stories. Young girl in Afghanistan, forbidden to go to school by the Taliban. Has access to a low-cost laptop, kind of self-educates herself. She's now doing quantum computing research at Tufts after lying to her parents, smuggling herself into Pakistan to take the SAT. So there's definitely those stories too. But the ideal is in a classroom, supported by a teacher, is by far the best.
Bostic: Well, Sal, I could talk with you for another hour and a half. But we are unfortunately out of time. So I just want to thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Some really interesting and important insights about how technology and the content that you're providing can really make a difference for kids. And I think that your experience will help inform and give real food for thought for all the listeners and the watchers that we have today. So thank you again for joining us.
Khan: No, thanks for having me. Really enjoyed it.
Bostic: And now, I'm going to turn the show over to Takeru Nagayoshi, who is the 2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. It's all yours.
Takeru Nagayoshi: Thank you so much. Hi, everyone. My name is Takeru Nagayoshi, I also go by TK, and I'm the 2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. And also, a high school AP English and research teacher in New Bedford, Massachusetts. I'm really excited to be there and thank you to the members of the Federal Reserve Bank, because you can't have these conversations, right, without having educators at the table. So a bit of context, I teach at a Title I public school, where the majority of our students are of color. They're economically disadvantaged; over a third of our students are English language learners. So much as what has been said today, I've seen firsthand play out in my community. And a lot of well-meaning folks, you hear this a lot, say education is this great equalizer. But that's only true, right, if there's a great and equal education for all. And if any of our discussions have been making it clear, we have a really long way to go.
And so Massachusetts, it's celebrated as this North Star for education policymakers, where our average academic achievement surpasses a lot of top OECD countries, for instance. But when you really disaggregate the data, you'd find that our achievement is uneven even along racial and class lines. And you'd find that this unevenness actually mirrors the geographic realities of our segregated neighborhoods, right? And so you can place all of the Teachers of the Year—and sorry, I'm in my prep period right now, so you heard the bell from my school—but you can place all the Teachers of the Year in these high-needs communities. But unless you're addressing these structural issues—those on housing discrimination, redlining gentrification, the funding of public schools with property tax, a lot of which are directly intersecting with racism and the economy—unless you're addressing these structural issues, you're not going to get sustained measurable impact in our low-income communities of color. And as the resident teacher, I feel like it'd be remiss, right, for me to not give an example from my own classroom.
And so, I teach Advanced Placement. And so, arguably, to the most academically invested students at our schools, at least in the traditional measure of the sense of the word, right? And during the spring pandemic, a lot, a good chunk of my students just stopped showing up to my virtual class. And when I'd asked them why, the reasons for not coming often reflected a lot of what we've been unpacking today. "Mr. Nagayoshi, I had to take care of my younger brother, so I didn't come to your class. He was crying uncontrollably and I'm the only one who can look after him." "Mr. Nagayoshi, I'm an essential worker and I have shifts during your class. I can't quit my job because I have to help my family pay bills." "Mr. Nagayoshi, I don't have stable internet connection at home this month, and I don't want to sacrifice my smartphone data to access your Zoom session." "Mr. Nagayoshi, I was out getting tested because my whole family tested positive for COVID." "Mr. Nagayoshi, I'm depressed because my parents were laid off."
I know my students, right? And I know that much of what begets their academic challenges are a reflection of these socioeconomic gaps at their home and also in their communities. And we know that this is a gap that's more pronounced in segregated, historically underinvested communities of color. But you'd be surprised at how little this is acknowledged, even in education circles. So the other night, I was in a meeting with top educators across the country. And it was for this ceremonial event. And I was in a breakout room where a lot of the folks, the majority of whom are white, were lamenting what they basically perceived as reasons for poor student performance. It's disengaged families, it's ineffective teaching practices. It's because we need more accountability. And I had to push back, because the fault here is that these critiques are applying a white middle-class paradigm as a one-size-fits-all response. And it's the same myopia, I think, that afflicts a lot of our policy places. And when we refuse to acknowledge these systemic barriers that exist, we're being racist.
And so my frustrations in education reform are that they're so focused on just the school, the school systems as the primary lever for change, when our schools, like mine, in particular, and we're telling you this, right, as a teacher who works in a community like this, that the broader socioeconomic and racist structural issues are what needs to be confronted. And so, in that spirit, Federal Reserve Bank presidents, I'm going to throw it back to you. A: I'm curious because this whole section is about just reflecting together. What are your reactions to some of the proposals and discussions that we heard from today? And B: can you give us a specific structural solution [inaudible] racism and economy in our education, one that highlights the role institutions like the Federal Reserve Banks directly play?
Kashkari: Well, I'm happy to go first if that's okay. Thank you for those comments, by the way. It was wonderful to hear from you and your own experience. Very persuasive. What I heard today is, first of all, these problems have been decades or longer, they've been persistent. And there have been many good-faith attempts to try to improve performance, improve outcome, improve opportunity. And in much of the country, we have not made any progress. Certainly in Minnesota, we have not made any progress in the last several decades. And so we can't keep doing what we've been doing. I mean, I hear you what you said about the context of the family. You're absolutely right. But if we have to first end poverty before we can improve education outcomes, I wish I knew how to do that. I don't know how to do that. I do know that people who get better and more education end up having better job opportunities, their children have better opportunities.
And so to me, while I don't want to put all of the burden on the schools, no question about it, there are many facets to this. Helping kids get a better education is the most powerful tool we actually have to break the cycle of poverty that goes on from generation to generation to generation. So [inaudible] in my view today, but we also heard that each child's needs are different. So early education, early childhood education may be exactly what certain kids need. Others may be anti-bias training. To me, the one that I'm fondest of, and I've been working on it for a while with Justice Page, is the idea of, are we finally going to commit as a society to making education of all of our children our highest priority?
And the most powerful changes in our nation's history have come through civil rights movements, whether it's the Bill of Rights, giving people the right to free speech or freedom of religion; the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery; the 15th Amendment, which gave freed slaves the right to vote; the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote; the Brown v. Board of Education. Civil rights movements and legislation and constitutional amendments have led to transformation of our society over time. So I'm drawn to what Geoff Canada said, which is, "This is a crisis. It is time we started treating it like a crisis." And that, to me, is why enshrining the priority of education in our legal system is a way of sustaining change over the course of many, many years.
Kaplan: If you'd like, I can go next. Again, thank you for the comments. But I learned an enormous amount today. In a very brief amount of time, let me just highlight two or three things. We spend a lot of time here at the Dallas Fed, in the Eleventh District particularly, on the whole [inaudible], but particularly on early childhood, because our observation is by the time a child starts grade school, it's already too late for many of our Black and Hispanic students. So we spend a lot of time on this issue of expanded pre-K equality, pre-K food insecurity, childhood poverty. But I learned a lot today, particularly from Myra Jones-Taylor, on this issue of family leave and work schedules, which honestly, I haven't thought as much about. And we're going to do more work on that as a result. And I learned a lot. We're right now, post-COVID, having specific conversations in our community about how to rebuild daycare and childcare, because many of our childcare centers have failed. As Linda K. Smith said, it's a business model and the business model doesn't work.
But we're seeing that's directly connected to getting women in the workforce, but also at-risk groups improving and making more available childcare. And what we do at the Fed, and this is not just true in our ... we convene business people, government leaders, nonprofit leaders. We've done that in getting Wi-Fi in certain cities in our state—McAllen, Texas, most recently—we've done it in teacher training. We've convened groups to do that. Educating principals and students. Principals and superintendents, I should say. But I would say one other thing, and then I'll stop here. We've learned that leadership—great teachers and leaders are necessary in the education sector. We've been involved in creating partnerships that actually educate superintendents and principals. And I think today, for me, was a great example why leadership matters. We heard from a range of leaders. And the fact of the matter is I think the Fed can do a lot, but the private sector has got to be mobilized.
Many of the great advances we've made here haven't been done by the state government, they've been done with nonprofits working with businesspeople that have created centers to educate teachers, principals, superintendents. And so we're going to redouble those efforts. And then the last comment I'd make, which I think is a key role for the Fed on this, is these challenges, I believe strongly, have to be talked about as investments. They're not just "nice" things to do, or "socially nice" things to do, they're investments. And one of, I think, our successes here is connecting [inaudible] ... to a stronger economy. And I think that helped get education reform done and help convinced legislators and the governor. And it's helped create a lot of these partnerships here where we've gotten businesses in, because I think they're sold. They believe that their future and all of our futures are tied to better economic outcomes for Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans. And I think that understanding and connection is uneven, and we need to strengthen it. And I think the Fed can do a lot to drive that home.
Eric Rosengren: So I guess I'm batting cleanup, and I want to thank TK. That was a wonderful introduction to this panel. I think one of the fundamental things that come up in a lot of the comments that we've heard today is that we need to change the way we finance education. So why is it that education has led to such disparate outcomes? Well, in part, it's because education's expensive. That's true whether you're talking about early childhood education or whether you're talking about a college education. In the United States, most of our funding occurs at the local level. That wouldn't be a problem if we were distributed fairly evenly around the country in terms of income and race. But that is not how we're distributed. At the local level, there's a big difference between what we see, as TK has highlighted, between suburban Boston and inner-city Boston, for example. So if you're fortunate enough to live in a wealthy suburb, you're more than likely going to be white and you're going to more likely have access to high quality education.
And if you're poor, you're much more likely to be in a minority neighborhood and much less likely to have access to quality education. So I think a number of the comments we've heard today is a need to rethink. If we're really thinking about this as an investment in people, we need to fund it in a way that is not so dependent on locational choice. So if we choose to locate where our houses are, are segmented by income and by race, then our education is similarly going to be different by race and by income. So I'm attracted to a number of the ideas that were raised. I'll just hit two. One, Alan Page's comment. While I'm not sure a legal solution is the only solution, thinking about how we equalize education funding, I think is important, to the extent that that change is done at the state level. I would highlight there's a big difference across states and educational outcome, just as there's a big difference in educational outcomes within states. So we'd have to think a little bit more about that, but I do think that legal changes may help get finance changing.
Finally, I would say early childhood, which came up and I think is appropriate, the Minneapolis Fed has led in this area over a long time period, early childhood is expensive, but so is persistent inequalities in education.
So in my last one minute remaining, first of all, I want to thank all the panelists. This has been a very engaging conversation. Unequal education and educational finance perpetuates the kind of disparate outcomes that we're seeking to solve. I want to end on an optimistic note that I know in the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, they had a failing school system. And when the state took over that school, it made a significant difference, not in only the outcomes of the students who were able to get a very different outcome in terms of education [inaudible], but also for the city at large. There are huge spillovers to having a good school system. So hopefully, over time, we can find ways that these educational differences across localities and states can be equalized.
I think the next topic that we're having is critically important to the discussion we've just had. Our next session on racism and the economy is on housing. And I hope everybody will come back and join us on that. Segregation in housing has profoundly shaped outcomes, as children's educational outcomes depend heavily on where they live. We look forward to digging into this critical topic next time. Thank you for joining us. And thanks again to all the participants.
Nagayoshi: If I may, and I've been given permission by the producers to make this one last pitch for the educators out there. And we've been seeing a lot of comments and Twitter talking about teacher-centric solutions. So I do want to give a teacher-centric solution. And thank you, President Rosengren, and President Kaplan, Kashkari, and everyone here today. This is going to sound a bit haughty, but here's a teacher-centric solution: pay us more. And less bluntly put, invest in policies and programs that better compensate and relieve the financial burden of teachers, especially those of color who serve in high-needs communities. I have been arguing for the need for us to invest in economic policies and programs that recruit more teachers of color, especially Black and brown men. And it's not just because we know the research that it has in the academic outcome for all of our students, but it's also because teachers of color are the most likely to push back against the racist practices that exist in our schools.
I had a Black teacher once tell me that at his middle school, they had a headband policy. And as soon they implemented it, the number of disciplinary referrals for his Black girls shot up. And it's not because Black girls are rebellious or that they're misbehaving, it's because they were more likely to wear headbands because they wanted to hide their edges. And it's not that teachers in that school wanted to be racist, right? Or disrupt the learning experiences of our Black girls. But that's precisely how racism operates. And who but an educator of color, specifically one from similar community backgrounds, can or will advocate for their students through a lens that centers race and do so in an unapologetic way? And it's not that white people can't do this or that they won't, right? They certainly do. But they are, on average, less willing, I think, or able to. And as a light-skinned Asian man, I also include myself in this analysis, right?
We're not bad people, but our light-skin privilege is an existential blind spot. And I think those happen in our policy spaces. And so going back to my last point about recruiting and retaining more teachers of color, people of color, on average, are more likely to have student debt or experience financial hardship. So if you're a brilliant and talented person of color, especially one from a low-income community, there's a legitimate financial incentive to seek employment elsewhere, even if your heart is to serve in your own community.
And so, to recap, if you want to improve academic outcomes for marginalized students, recruit and retain more teachers of color, especially Black and brown men. And if you want more quality educators of color like that joining our profession, invest in economic policies and programs that nurture that pipeline. Thank you so much, everyone, and have a wonderful day. It's been a pleasure being here.