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The Future of Education Hinges on Ensuring Every Student Can Learn — Experts Weigh In on How To Make This Happen

Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell, and Eat. Learn. Play. founders Ayesha and Stephen Curry discuss the future of education and how we can ensure that every student succeeds in this next normal.

COVID-19 changed education overnight and set into motion a series of connected crises – a crisis of inequality, health and safety, and access and opportunity. While schools and families are continuing to adapt, there is a tremendous amount of support needed to ensure that every student can succeed in this next normal.

In a recent Leading Through Change, we were joined by Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) Superintendent Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell, who talked about how she’s approaching this unique school year. Salesforce.org’s Shea Lewis previewed Work.com for Schools as well as Student Success Hub, an exciting new product inspired by our work with OUSD that will launch later this year. 

We also heard from Ayesha and Stephen Curry about their organization, Eat. Learn. Play., and what they’re doing to support Oakland students both inside and outside the classroom. 

Supporting the whole child

When asked about the number one issue facing students in this new learn-anywhere environment, Johnson-Trammell quickly answered, “food insecurity.” Nearly 30 million students rely on the National School Lunch Program nationwide – and with schools operating remotely, many students are without the proper nutrition they need to continue learning.

As part of its mission to become a Full Service Community School District, OUSD has partnered with Salesforce and other organizations, including Eat. Learn. Play., Alameda County Community Food Bank, Numi Foundation, and the World Health Organization to supply healthy meals to local students and families. “We can do wonderful and amazing things for students and families when we leverage partnerships across the city,“ said Johnson-Trammell.

The Curry’s consider the Bay Area their adoptive home and founded Eat. Learn. Play. as a way to give back. In its first year of operation, the team has already distributed more than seven million meals to Bay Area families in need. “This full-circle community, everybody coming together, has been such a bright spot,” said Ayesha Curry, who believes the model can continue even after the pandemic. “This is a great learning experience — to realize how, going forward, we can end childhood hunger.”

Closing the digital divide

Johnson-Trammell raised another challenge facing her district: the digital divide. “[People should have] the same rights and level of access to [devices] as they do to water and electricity. We’re seeing the disproportionate lack of access to those resources among our low-income families in our African American, Latinx, and newcomer communities.”

The Curry’s echoed Johnson-Trammell’s sentiment and talked about how Eat. Learn. Play. will focus on helping close the Digital Divide. “Fifty percent of the student population in Oakland don’t have access to proper technology or stable internet,” said Ayesha Curry. “So we’ve been working with some of our current partners and some new partners to create ways to ensure that all of the children in the Oakland Unified School District have access to those things.”

Parenting during COVID-19

As we heard from all guests – COVID-19 parenting is real! Whether it’s locking the door for an uninterrupted Zoom call for the Curry’s or Johnson-Trammell juggling her role as Superintendent and teacher to her own children learning at home, these parents are finding new ways to stay balanced.

When asked for her tips on how to survive Johnson-Trammell replied, “Start meditating.” She also suggested learning beyond the academic sense, by bringing kids into new activities they can help with at home like gardening and cooking.

Ayesha Curry said, “If we’ve learned anything during this time, it’s to really just have a sense of grace with yourself and your children.” Stephen Curry also shared some of the silver linings from quarantining together at home: “I’ve gotten to know my kids’ personality quirks, and they know much more [about me] than they ever had.” 

Reimagining an equitable future of learning

In closing, both Johnson-Trammell and the Curry’s offered messages of hope.

“[Education] is everyone’s responsibility. And I think if we continue to take that mindset, we’re going to come out of this situation better. We’re going to actually address some of these inequities that have plagued us for a generation, and make sure that more students and families have access to a better quality of life,” said Johnson-Trammell.

“Be positive. Have hope. I would rather be on the other side no matter what the situation is,” shared Stephen Curry. “Lean in on those people in your circle, in your family. Find those people that will support you and bring the best out of you.”

To watch the full conversation with Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell, and Ayesha and Stephen Curry, click here.

For more ways to support your local schools, check out these resources:

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