ExtraOrdinary Districts: Ordinary School Districts That get Extraordinary Results

A Podcast by The Education Trust

Across the nation, many school districts are asking themselves, “What can we do to better serve our students of color and those from low-income communities?” In Ed Trust’s podcast, ExtraOrdinary Districts, writer-in-residence Karin Chenoweth explores that question by visiting ordinary school districts that are getting extraordinary results for historically underserved youth.  Whether you’re a principal or parent, a superintendent or school board member, a legislator or just someone who thinks that schools need to do better — this podcast is for you.

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ExtraOrdinary Districts Season 5

Are you wondering how school districts are spending the money the federal government sent them to get through the COVID crisis? Karin Chenoweth, writer-in-residence at The Education Trust, spoke with educators around the country for Season 5 of ExtraOrdinary Districts.

She explores how this once-in-a-generation investment in education is being used to meet the immediate needs of students during the pandemic and to set up long-term strategies to address inequities.

Subscribe today to ExtraOrdinary Districts wherever you listen to podcasts. And if you haven’t already, be sure to listen to the first four seasons (many of our guests in Season 5 are folks we’ve talked with before).

Season 1

Anyone who wants to identify “extraordinary districts” has a daunting challenge: The United States has more than 14,000 school districts and they vary widely. Some school districts have hundreds of students; some have hundreds of thousands. And school districts have a dizzying array of demographics, assessments, and funding structures. In season one we travel to Lexington, MA, Steubenville, OH, and Chicago, IL, to talk with thoughtful educators about the hard work they have put in to develop systems and ways of operating to continuously improve the learning of students.

Season 2

In season two we travel to two rural districts (Lane, Oklahoma, and Seaford, Delaware) and one suburban district (Valley Stream 30, New York) to talk with thoughtful educators about the hard work they have put in to develop systems and ways of operating to continuously improve the learning of students.

Season 3

In this extraordinary moment, with tens of millions of children out of school, educators around the country are looking for answers about the best way to ensure that students don’t lose months — or even years — of learning.

Join us as we check in with leading educators around the country as they struggle with obstacles facing all educators as the nation learns to stay physically distant and socially connected.

Season 4

In season four we follow up with educators from previous seasons to find out how they are continuing to support their students through the pandemic and how they are thinking about systemic changes to address long-standing inequities.

Special Edition: Segregation, Integration and the Milford 11

Delaware’s first African American attorney went before the state’s first Catholic judge in 1952 to ask that Delaware’s schools be desegregated. The judge agreed that segregation should be dismantled but that only the U.S. Supreme Court had the power to do so. It did so on May 17, 1954, in Brown v. Board of Education. That September, 11 African American students enrolled in the all-White Milford High School in southern Delaware. For about a week things went smoothly. And then a petty crook arrived, joined by a “pseudo minister” who whipped up segregationist crowds threatening violence to anyone who supported integration. Despite efforts by Delaware’s first Jewish Attorney General to uphold the law of the land, the town was “blown apart” – just as the school board president had predicted. What happened in Milford resonated through all of Delaware and the nation for many years. This special edition of ExtraOrdinary Districts uses archival audio from participants, as well as interviews with Delaware’s former secretary of agriculture Walter Kee and Northwestern University historian Brett V. Gadsden, who put the events of 1954 into perspective.

Special Edition: ExtraOrdinary Districts Need Extraordinary School Leaders. How Do We Get More of Them?

One of the key lessons that emerged in Education Trust’s podcast, “ExtraOrdinary Districts,” is that improvement requires leadership at the school level.

This, of course, has been well established in the research literature. But that just raises the next question: If principals are key to school and district improvement, then how do we ensure that principals are prepared to improve schools so that all children — no matter their background — learn and succeed?

That is the subject of a fascinating conversation among three leaders of principal preparation programs and the executive director of the University Council of Educational Administration, who discuss how to create more “extraordinary school leaders.”

Recording, editing and mixing by Airshow Mastering. Music composed by Mike Petillo of Airshow Mastering.

Funded by The Wallace Foundation.