Kaya Henderson, Former Chancellor, D.C. Public Schools, on Leading Urban District Reform

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are happy to be joined by Kaya Henderson, the former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools. They discuss the historic reforms Henderson oversaw, including increasing enrollment and improved test scores in an urban district that had been one of the lowest performing in the country. Kaya talks about her unique and authentic leadership style and her focus on re-building the D.C. Public Schools into a viable option that restored confidence among parents. She shares some of the key ingredients for success, the challenges of navigating political forces, her thoughts on the D.C. voucher program, and what really motivated district change. She also credits her controversial predecessor Michelle Rhee with challenging the district’s bureaucracy and creating some of the conditions for success. Lastly, she reflects on how the relationship-building skills she brought to her position are serving her well in her current role with Teach for All, which runs “Teach for America”-style programs in 53 countries; as an independent consultant in the U.S.; and on numerous boards, where she is involved in COVID relief efforts.

Stories of the WeekDr. Anthony Fauci, speaking at a U.S. Senate hearing this week, cautioned that reentry of students in the fall term would likely be “a bridge too far” due to the lack of available COVID treatments or a vaccine. Are American families and schools prepared for long-term digital learning? This week is National Charter Schools Week, the annual celebration of the charter schools that are educating over three million students, and have been so successful in bridging achievement gaps. Gerard and Cara reflect on the history of the charter movement, the many teachers, families, and local leaders involved in launching it, and the bipartisan political support that it has enjoyed.

Newsmaker Interview Guest:

Kaya Henderson is best known for her role as Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) from 2010-2016. Her tenure was marked by consecutive years of enrollment growth, the highest graduation rates in the district’s history, and the largest growth of any urban district on the NAEP over multiple years. Henderson’s previous work includes being a middle school Spanish teacher in the South Bronx, D.C. Executive Director for Teach for America, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at The New Teacher Project, and Deputy Chancellor of the DCPS. She received her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and her Master of Arts in Leadership from Georgetown University, as well as honorary degrees from Georgetown and Trinity Washington University.

The next episode will air on May 22nd, 2020 with guest, Kerry McDonald, a Senior Education Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education and author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom.

Tweet of the Week:

News Links:

It’s National Charter Schools Week

https://www.publiccharters.org/what-you-can-do/celebrate-national-charter-schools-week

 

You’ll Still Be Homeschooling Your Kids This Fall, Dr. Fauci Says

https://bestlifeonline.com/fauci-schools-open-fall/

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-12/fauci-cautious-about-schools-colleges-reopening-in-fall-we-better-be-careful

 

Get Updates on Our Education Research

Recent episodes:

MA Commissioner Jeff Riley on Remote Learning, Voc-Techs, & Reforming Boston’s Schools

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard open with commentary on the George Floyd tragedy and K-12 education’s role in addressing racial injustice. Then, they are joined by Jeffrey Riley, the Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, to talk about the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19.

Acclaimed Poet & Former NEA Chairman Dana Gioia on Poetry & Arts Education

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Dana Gioia, a poet, writer, and the former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, to talk about why the arts are so pivotal to the intellectual and civic development of America’s K-12 schoolchildren.

Homeschooling Expert Kerry McDonald on Harvard Law Professor Controversy & COVID

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are happy to be joined by Kerry McDonald, a homeschooling expert and Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education, on the major lessons we all should be learning from this educational moment, now that COVID has turned most of America’s 50 million schoolchildren and their families into "homeschoolers."

Kaya Henderson, Former Chancellor, D.C. Public Schools, on Leading Urban District Reform

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are happy to be joined by Kaya Henderson, the former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools. They discuss the historic reforms Henderson oversaw, including increasing enrollment and improved test scores in an urban district that had been one of the lowest performing in the country.

UVA Law Professor Kimberly Robinson On Legal Debate About Education As Federal Right

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by Kimberly Robinson, Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and the Curry School of Education, about her new book, "A Federal Right to Education: Fundamental Questions for Our Democracy," and the need for states to establish a “floor of opportunity” to ensure educational equity.

New York Times #1 best-selling author John M. Barry on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic & lessons for COVID-19

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by John M. Barry, author of the #1 New York Times best seller, The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History.

Ashley Berner of Johns Hopkins on Academic Quality, Educational Pluralism, & the Providence Public Schools

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by Ashley Berner, Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. 

Christensen Institute Co-founder Michael Horn on Digital Learning & COVID-19

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by Michael Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.

The Institute for Justice's Tim Keller on Espinoza v. Montana DOR & ongoing school choice litigation

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by Tim Keller, Senior Attorney with the Institute for Justice, which is representing the plaintiffs in the high-profile Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court,.

Stanford Pulitzer Winner David Kennedy on Lessons for COVID-19 from the 1918 Flu Epidemic & Great Depression

/
This week on “The Learning Curve” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by Pulitzer-winning historian David Kennedy, the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University.

The Washington Post’s Jay Mathews on schooling during COVID-19 & lessons from teaching great Jaime Escalante

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by Jay Mathews, Washington Post education columnist.

Ambassador Ray Flynn on Public Leadership During Global Crisis & the Case for Catholic Schools

/
This week on “The Learning Curve” (St. Patrick’s Day edition), Cara and Gerard discuss COVID-19’s ongoing toll on families and K-12 education, and interview Raymond Flynn, former Ambassador to the Vatican and three-term Mayor of Boston, about the world-historical moment presented by the Coronavirus pandemic as well as his advocacy for religious education.