November/December Podcast: Dr. Blake Noel

Happy Holidays to everyone in The Open System universe. This month, I’m bringing you a special podcast on a critical and essential topic of interrupting bias and racism in our schools through restoring dignity to students.


Our guest this month is Dr. Blake Noel, who recently completed his doctorate at the University of Michigan. We work in similar circles and we’ve spoken at length about the subject of his dissertation and how it connects to the open system concept. I asked Blake to sit down and walk us through his argument and contribution to the field, which I think is extensive.

This podcast is a great opportunity to reconsider some prime and fundamental issues at play in our schools. It’s an exploration of the link between race, teacher moves and student dignity. And most consequentially, he offers a powerful way to adjust these dynamics and restore dignity and respect to students.


September Podcast: Brian Eschbacher

In our current education discourse, there is major debate and challenges around the ideas of “choice” and “access.” I’m very interested in the intersection between school systems that embark on choice and access initiatives and the relationship they have to creating an open system.

I invited my former colleague at Denver Public Schools, Brian Eschbacher, to join the September podcast for a conversation on these ideas:

  • What is a public space in education? What obligation do we have to meet unique needs?

  • How does the market analogy apply in education? How does it not?

  • How does planning and choice walk hand in hand in an open system?

  • We discuss how a choice and access system create opportunities for Exit, Voice and Loyalty - actions families can take to have power and agency in an open system.

  • What is the work of family engagement and open systems in creating real choices?

  • How does choice challenge old notions of community and create the potential for new forms of community? 

  • What is the future of choice systems?

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August Podcast: Wisdom Amouzou

Hey everyone. I hope you had an amazing summer and are getting ready for a great school year.  

While I recorded this podcast before the end of the school year, life events conspired to get in the way. But that's how things work and I'm super excited for it to come out now in August. 

Wisdom is a great leader in the space. Since our podcast was recorded, his school was approved.  He is an incredible speaker and thinker in working with families and bringing new people into new visions for education.

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April Podcast: 1647 with Glennys Sanchez and Ann Walsh

Happy April! 

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I'm excited for our April Open System podcast starring two great leaders from Massachusetts: Glennys Sanchez and Ann Walsh. 

1647 is a leading family engagement organization in MA, focused on ensuring that schools have the tools and resources they need to be working with parents and families.  In the podcast, we hear from Glennys and Anne about how the organization got it's name, the origins of why this work matters to them and how they are pivoting to ensure greater buy-in from schools.  

This podcast is a must listen if you're interested in the efforts of leaders who are thinking about identity and organizational impact as they pursue open systems.  


March Podcast - Reilly Pharo Carter with Climb Higher Colorado

I'm really excited about our March podcast. This month we get to talk to someone who I really love working with in the open system space - Reilly Pharo Carter

Reilly is the Executive Director of Climb Higher Colorado, an organization formed for the purpose of advancing high expectations through standards and assessments. The organization was formed with a different type of charge: to build a grasstops and grassroots coalition in support of the work.  Sadly, too few organizations take on that essential work.  

What's exciting about Reilly & Climb Higher is that the work has transformed into building and sustaining strong and vibrant open systems amongst the coalition members and with school districts around the state.  

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February Podcast - Dr. Ivan Duran

Welcome to the second Open System podcast! Thanks everyone for your great feedback and comments on the first podcast.  

For the second podcast, I had the chance to sit down with a longtime friend and colleague, Dr. Ivan Duran.  Dr. Duran is the Superintendent of Bellevue Public Schools in Washington state. 

I've know Dr. Duran from our time together in Denver Public Schools, where I knew him as a champion of family engagement as a major priority while he was in charge of all elementary schools in the district.  

In the podcast, we discuss why he got involved in education, why he cares about family engagement, the outcomes of best practice open system work and how he thinks about ensuring the entire system prioritizes the work.  

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January Podcast - Natalie Lewis

Welcome to our first Open System podcast!

Each month we will be interviewing and highlighting someone special, interesting and captivating in the Open System space.  

For our first podcast, we are very fortunate to have Natalie Lewis, Kansas City School Board Member and fellow Flamboyan National Family Engagement fellow.  Check out her bio here.  During the discussion, we dive into what drives her, why she joined the school board, her thoughts on family engagement and why she cares about the work.  

Please send any feedback or thoughts my way.  It's my first experience podcasting and sharing out.  I'm hoping each time I'll get better at questions/interviews and also at the technical components. So thank you for going on the journey!

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Co-Production & Co-Creation Part 2: Traditional & Open Authorizing Environments

In Denver Public Schools, I had the opportunity to work with a tremendous set of folks to “break the cycle” on turnaround.  DPS has identified previous turnaround efforts as stalled or challenged due to three factors: planning/lead time, community involvement and strong designs.

In three schools, we hired two principals.  One was the interim principal, hired to lead the school through the first year of the turnaround process.  The other leader, dubbed the “Year 0 Leader”, was to be the new permanent principal of the school. Over the course of the first year the leader was charged with building community design team for a new model, engaging families and community and hiring a new staff.  

In each of the cases, formal and informal authorizing was needed.  The school board and DPS central administration had to formally approve the process and final plans.  The Teacher’s Association had to be notified in advance.  External stakeholders with informal authority were informed through multiple meetings to explain the process.  A group of concerned community advocacy groups were brought in early and often to appraise them throughout.

How did we manage the external environment to authorize these two turnaround schools? How did we build a bigger group of co-constructors and co-creators? This post is about how to think about these concepts in the broader frame.

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Peter Cunningham - Diversity & Families in the Education Movement

Yesterday, Peter Cunningham, editor-in-chief of Education Post, posted an article entitled: "Education Reform in 2018 Is Going to Need a Parent Seal of Approval."

It's a great piece that combines two very important ideas in education these days.  First, he rightly notes the important shift in the education reform space to diversify across all lines of difference and also share power with community voices. Second, he makes a strong and clear case for parent voice & parent work in the education community.  The first is an important observation and the second is an clarion call for education advocates going forward.

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