Listen to This

by Jeff Camp | January 29, 2020 | 0 Comments
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The Education Podcast You Need

Like about half of Americans, I'm increasingly listening to podcasts. My pattern is usually to let them pile up and then binge when I'm walking, or gardening, or washing dishes, sometimes at high speed.

Some of my podcast listening is frivolous, but one podcast I regard as essential: This Week in California Education, a weekly podcast by EdSource.org. I subscribe using the podcast app on my iPhone.

The main voices on this podcast are Louis Freedberg and John Fensterwald, the editors of EdSource. Both are long-time observers of education in California, familiar to education policymakers and researchers. Although they understand the system deeply, they approach their reporting with an appealing sense of humility. Interviews with experts are central to the podcast, but the best bits are often the conversations between John and Louis. They have a knack for taking the issues of the moment, making them clear, and putting them into a larger context. Maybe even more appreciated is their brevity: they keep every episode to about twenty minutes. I never miss one.

Past episodes of This Week in California Education are available on SoundCloud (138 of them and counting). Here are a few from the last year that stood out to me:

Selected episodes from the EdSource podcast

Governor Newsom bets big teacher residencies will help ease teacher shortage. This recent post includes an interview with Dr. Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, an Assistant Vice Chancellor who oversees the programs that prepare most of California's teachers. She provides expert context about how these residencies actually work and why they matter.

Two views of a critical state audit. In 2019 the state auditor concluded that California may not be distributing funds to school districts in a manner consistent with the intent of the state's funding formula. Perhaps worse, it's impossible to tell for sure.

Shootings underscore school counselors' daunting challenges. This interview with Loretta Whitson, executive director of the California Association of School Counselors, explored the policy context for California school districts' investments in counseling in the wake of a deadly shooting at Saugus High School.

Big school bond with reforms, new pitch to presidential candidates. Voters will soon weigh in on Prop 13 (2020). This interview with Jeff Vincent, of the Center for Cities + Schools at UC Berkeley, is a great way to get a feel for the issues — and why this state school bond is different from others in the past.

Big fight over new money for special ed. California's funding system for special education is complicated and flawed, and Governor Newsom seems determined to revise it. This discussion, including a conversation with Maureen Burness, a co-executive director of the Statewide Task Force on Special Education, helps explain why it's proving so hard to fix.

Fixing the college dropout 'scandal'. An alarming number of students who start college don't earn a degree. UC Berkeley professor David Kirp explains the crisis; Cal State Long Beach President Jane Conoley explains what her school is doing differently to graduate students at a rate far higher than most.

Stunning defeat of parcel tax in L.A. After a decisive defeat in a low-turnout election, Louis interviewed LAUSD board member Nick Melvoin to explore what went wrong and what might happen next.

A tug of war over SAT/ACT tests. This episode also includes an interview with Michael Kirst about the federal role in school funding.

This remarkable and influential podcast has relied on the support of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation which, alarmingly, is spending down. Hopefully, a new funder will step up!

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