Season 2, Episode 2: The COVID Generation

Mike Petrilli, the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, describes what’s needed to make a significant and long-lasting impact on America’s schools. He argues that the life-altering impact learning loss has had on students should motivate leaders to seek out the best practices and investments transforming outcomes for students.


Jim Cowen This is Jim Cowen from the Collaborative for Student Success, and this is the “Route K-12 Exploring Education Recovery” podcast. Each week, we travel the country on a kind of “road trip” to talk about the ways federal recovery dollars are being used in states to reshape education. Along the way, we’ll hold up the best examples with the hope that those practices are repeated in other schools.

Our guest today is none other than Mike Petrilli, President of the Thomas B. Ford Institute, and I will note the host of the Education Gadfly podcast. Gadfly’s been around for more than 15 years and has racked up some 800 plus episodes. Is that right? 800 plus episodes?

Mike Petrilli Yeah, baby. Do the math. Yeah.

Jim Cowen You’re also a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, executive editor of Education Next. A distinguished fellow for the Education Commission of the States, and a snappy dresser, I will say. And there’s a reason why I said that today too. I wanted to hit on one thing before we get into a conversation and maybe as a lead into a conversation, Mike. It was my first week at the Collaborative, and my former boss, Karen Nussle said, “You need to go talk to Mike Petrilli just, you know, to kind of get started in this space.” And so, I reached out to your team and set up some time and it happened to be the week that we were moving into a new office. So I was, you know this is pre-COVID, just wearing shorts and a t-shirt and some sandals because we were moving stuff around. And I went to show up at your office, like that. And you opened the door and basically said, “Man, I wish I knew you were coming like that. I would’ve done the same thing.”

Mike Petrilli Yeah, exactly.

Jim Cowen So in honor of that, again today I’m wearing t-shirt, shorts, and sandals.

Mike Petrilli That’s great. Well, hey, it’s great to be with you, Jim, and yes, I too am wearing my Whitman football t-shirt. My son plays JV for Walt Whitman High School here in Bethesda, Maryland. Instead of being undefeated, they are entirely defeated so far this year, but we’re going to try to change that today.

Jim Cowen But strong in spirit. Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.

Mike Petrilli Yes, fives on the APs, zeros on the scoreboard, but we’re going try to, you know, to fix that.

Jim Cowen Well, thanks for taking the time today. So, back at that moment when I first met you at that timeframe, we were focused really solidly, like locked in tight, on the standards fights in the states. That was our focus. We were looking at strong measures of student progress, strong systems of accountability. And now, you know, a full decade plus later, we have changed a lot. Focuses have changed a ton. So, I just want to start off with asking you, because I know you’ve written about this and talked about it fairly frequently lately, where do you see education reform going right now?

Mike Petrilli Thanks. Well, look, obviously the big issue is how to help this generation of students recover from the terrible pandemic. And that is going to be the work ahead for many, many years because it was such a devastating impact on our schools—especially in places where the schools were shut down for in person learning for over a year, as happened with my kid’s schools and happened in a lot of places around the country. Certainly, you know, [closers] tend to be more in the cities and the bluer suburbs. We knew from previous research that it’s not good to have kids out of school for that long. And sure enough, as the data comes in it, it’s really just devastating. I think a lot of educators tried hard with the remote instruction, but look, there’s a reason that a lot of those virtual schools before the pandemic were not achieving very well. The technology’s still not where it needs to be to help the typical kid actually learn as much online as when they’re in person.

And then, you know, last school year kids were back to school, but all kinds of disruptions and quarantines and, you know, absenteeism rates through the roof, and just the transitions, all of that adds up to a massive amount of learning loss. So, education reform and just education at large, we’ve got to stay focused on helping this generation of kids. A lot of reasons to believe that if we don’t do that, they’re going to suffer really for their entire lives. You know, they’re going to learn less than they otherwise would. They’re going to earn less than they otherwise would, and so we owe it to this generation to do all we can to help them catch up.

Now, the good news is a lot of the strategies that we were using before the pandemic, are still the right strategies to use after, right? The problem is we actually have to use them. We have to get them implemented. We have to actually embrace them. A lot of it comes from those higher standards that you talked about. Still makes sense to have high expectations for kids, and it still makes a ton of sense to make sure that every child has a chance to learn challenging material in all the important subjects, you know, from reading, writing, and arithmetic, and onto the others. And we have made progress. You know, before the pandemic I was confident that we were really starting to see enough change at scale that we’d start to see more promising results on those test scores, but also stronger outcomes of kids getting ready for college and career. And that’s because more and more places we’re adopting high quality curriculum. You know, we actually have now these really strong instructional materials in all the core subjects, at least in elementary and middle school—high school, maybe not as much. We’ll talk about that. It takes time to adopt those materials, to get teachers trained up on them, to get them to a place where they spend a lot of their time helping one another, master those materials and master what they do in the classroom. But the reason it matters, Jim, is at the end of the day, that’s what kids are experiencing. You know, what are they doing for the six or seven hours they’re in school? Well, now we have a better confidence that they are doing important work. That they’re reading books that are more challenging maybe than they used to be. They’re doing math that’s more challenging than the math they used to get and that the teachers have the tools they need to do that effectively. So, getting back to that around high-quality instructional material is super important.

And then, you know, what everybody’s been saying and it’s right is kids lost out on time. You know, over a year out of school, we’ve got to give them that time back. That means high quality tutoring. That means after school. That means Saturday school. That means summer school. You know, I have floated this crazy idea that some kids may need a whole extra year and we should be open to that too. You know, add another year to elementary school for this generation if we need it. Whatever we’ve got to do to make these kids whole.

Jim Cowen Something you said in your remarks were about just the student experience. My two daughters know the post-9/11 world, right? The norms associated with that. They don’t question why they have to empty their pockets to enter a sporting event and go through a magnetometer. They don’t question why they can’t put only 3.4 ounces of liquid on an airplane. It’s just the norms that they’re dealing with, and they accept them. So, they don’t know what happened before them. Now that’s not the case for the pandemic. What school is like before the pandemic hit.

They now know what life is like after the pandemic hit. There’s a vast difference in their school experience and norms are going to be different now too. So, I guess my question is like, are you hopeful for some new norms that come out in a post pandemic world? Some things we need to think about differently now.

Mike Petrilli Well, sure. I think for sure there’s going to be some changes that are going to stick. Some of it is around infrastructure. I mean, suddenly we have all these devices in our schools. You know, for a long time the people that do ed tech stuff, they were excited about the idea of getting to one-to-one computing, you know, every kid with, with a Chromebook. And, and now in a lot of places we’ve got that almost feels like it’s not that big a deal now that we have it. But, you know, 20 years ago we would’ve thought that would be revolutionary.

Jim Cowen Yeah, exactly.

Mike Petrilli And it does. I mean kids are doing their work on these computers instead of pen and paper, and [it] makes communication with the teacher, with parents easier. The kids submit their stuff online and, you know, things don’t get lost in the backpack. And look, these are little changes, but they add up and they are important, you know, it certainly means kids should graduate being comfortable keyboarding and the like.

I think, in terms of the experience, my sense—and I’d be curious about your daughters’ experience—my sense is there’s such an interest in getting back to normal that a lot of the norms are going back and some of that’s OK. I think in education reform, you know, we use talk about, “Oh, we want to disrupt the system…” and I am glad we’re getting back to Friday night lights, you know? And the homecoming dance and all the traditions. That stuff means a lot to people, you know, for younger kids, right? Just having a safe place for young kids to go so their parents can go to work and they can also, you know, keep their own sanity. That stuff’s important. What we want to make sure we are doing though, in terms of the student experience is constantly asking, “Are we making the best use of time of the kids’ time when they’re at school?”

And also, be thoughtful now about what they might be doing outside of school. And here too there’s some opportunities for creativity. You know, if everybody’s got a Chromebook that they can take home with them, that makes doing homework more feasible. You know, you speak concerns about that around equity. That means that you can have kids do things like watch videos at home, the whole flip classroom idea. And you can really start to say, “OK, when we’ve got everybody here at school with the teacher, the trained professional, how to use that time to make it most meaningful. And then are there some things that makes sense to do outside of school instead?”

I think it’s just the case that we’ve never been particularly good in our education system at maximizing the use of that time. You know, like you, I’ve got older kids now, including a son in high school, and so these debates around, “Are we starting too early and the kids are sleep deprived?” I’m just starting to pay more attention to that stuff. You know, we do wake them up super early. My son’s on the bus at 7:15 a.m. in the morning. We rush to get them to school and then are they spending those six or seven hours actually maximizing that time? It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like there’s still a lot of wasted time. There’s still a lot of moving around.

So, we should keep pushing on saying, “how do we use that time effectively?” I also think that we’ve got to be clear, are we talking about five-year-olds? Are we talking about 15-year-olds? I think too often in education we just talk about education at large, and obviously it matters what level we’re talking about. I am more confident that our elementary schools, I at least know that we can go around the country and we could find a thousand, maybe 5,000, maybe 10,000 elementary schools that are really knocking it out of the park. A lot of them, in my view are high quality charter schools, but also traditional public schools, you know, all over the place that are making good use of the six hours they’ve got with those kids that are using high quality instructional materials, that are doing all the right things with teaching early reading that are making it a joyful and supportive environment as well. And that we have a clear sense of what we’re trying to get done in elementary school, right? Which is get kids off to a good start in those basic subjects and also history, science, and all the rest. I think it’s very different when we talk about high schools.

I am somebody who thinks that the typical big American high school that we’ve got today that it works OK for kids who are heading to college, especially competitive college. You know, kids who are spending a lot of time in high school taking a bunch of AP classes, that’s working pretty well. But it is not working well for a whole bunch of other kids. And look here, I think we’ve got to take some responsibility. You know, we talked a lot about college and career readiness, and I think we have to own up to the fact that we’ve been much better on the college preparation side than on the career preparation side. Almost no kids in America spend a significant amount of time while they’re still in high school getting ready for a career. And that’s crazy. That’s completely different than any other advanced country in the world, and we’ve got to fix that. And we can’t just talk about it. We’ve actually got to do something about it. That’s going to mean building very different kinds of schools and opportunities than we’ve got today.

Jim Cowen I think it’s interesting you’re kind of acknowledging like the role that schools play in communities too. We’ve had Tom Kane on here, we’ve talked about the research. He’s a brilliant professor at Harvard and has done really amazing studies around how much learning loss, you know, has happened.

But I struggle a bit when the answer is that we need to spend, we need to double, triple, quadruple down on how much time is put into, you know, accelerating learning and that it’s all done in a quality way. Because as you’ve sort of said, there’s only so many hours in the day. Kids need a lot of different things based on where they are in their development cycle, and there’s a thousand things that are competing for that time. From a political influence, from a very divisive political environment that we have right now, pressure is on school board members, pressure is on superintendents, pressure is on parents. And kids are in the middle of all this trying to stay socially and emotionally well in this sort of turmoil. And I’m just wondering like if there’s any more you have to say on sort of how that mix is sort of impacting us right now?

Mike Petrilli Yeah, look I get what you’re saying. And so, for example, last summer when we, a lot of us, pointed head wonks, we’re like, “We should have everybody in summer school.” And a lot of parents were like, “Uh, thanks, but no thanks. I need my kid to have a normal summer.” And I can respect that, but look at the same time, Jim, I mean, there’s so many opportunities to make better use of time. Take high school, we’ve got because of tradition and inertia and [career units] or whatever else, we’ve got a whole bunch of kids in America taking foreign languages, right? People are going to be bit mad at me about saying this: I respect trying to learn foreign languages, but let’s be honest, we’re terrible at it. OK? Nobody in America has ever learned a foreign language in an American high school. Maybe not nobody, all right, but very few people. We’re terrible at it. We start too late. It’s just like a rite of passage that we go through and why do we do it? Because we’ve always done it. We’ve done for a long time or because we think, “well, the colleges want to see that.” Again, a lot of kids aren’t going to college and they’re not going to competitive colleges where, you know, they need to have that on their transcript.

You could use that hour a day to help kids, you know, catch up on mathematics and or on reading and writing, which probably are going to matter more regardless of where they’re heading in their pathway. You could consider other electives as well, you know, that again are nice to have and yes, for a lot of kids, they’re what keep kids excited and motivated and energized. So, let’s be careful about it, but let’s talk about those possibilities. Those could be some places where, and we do see this, there are places before the pandemic, especially high poverty high schools, where they would have kids double up on math or double up on English. You don’t want to do it in a way that just makes kids hate it or that is boring, but, done right, that’s a possibility.

Again, back to the younger kids, elementary school, right? Why is it that we just say that “Well, elementary school is from kindergarten through fifth grade and that’s going to take six years because that’s the way we do things.” Meanwhile, a whole bunch of upper, middle-class parents, myself included, have redshirted their boys, right? Who are concerned that, “Well, maybe my son’s not quite ready.” Richard Reeves, Brookings scholar, out with a new book saying we should maybe redshirt all the boys. Again, we should think about using time, we might want to redshirt a bunch of the COVID kids who need an extra year, not just to repeat, I don’t know, second grade, right? But add another grade. Add grade two and a half. Just so that you can spread out the learning objectives, you can just give them more time, which is again, what we stole from them. What the pandemic stole from them was time. We’ve got to give them the time back. I don’t hear anybody talking about these ideas though. You know, it’s hard, it’s inertia. We go back to this system that we’ve got. There are some places out there trying to think differently, but we’ve got to really push on that. Again, there’ll be some bounce back. We’ll see some of this learning loss, some kids will make this up, but the kids who need school the most—kids who are poor who tend to come from the most disadvantaged neighborhoods, too often black and Hispanic kids—they need extra time more than anybody, and I don’t see us doing a whole lot to give it to them.

Jim Cowen You’ve written a lot about the impact of the great recession, the 2008 Great Recession. How do you think the pandemic has either exacerbated that, validated your initial thoughts on that? Where do you lie now on that?

Mike Petrilli Yeah, well, you know what I’ve argued Jim is that when you try to understand why was it that the 2010s were not a very good decade in terms of student achievement—there was basically either stagnation or even, in some cases, some decline even before the pandemic, especially for our lowest achieving kids—there’s a lot of theories about it and it could have to do with things that happened within our schools. But I think there’s good reason to believe that a lot of it is because of what happened outside the school because the Great Recession hit. It was the worst recession since the Great Depression. It threw millions of people out of work. It was devastating to many communities and so kids who were born into that and were little babies and toddlers and preschoolers when their parents were struggling, especially the poorest families in America, that probably left some scars. There’s evidence that that generation of kids came into kindergarten less prepared for school than their older counterparts did. Again, that’s not blaming the schools, but that’s saying even before they got to school they had really suffered.

Then we did go through this period in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, when there was actually a spending cut, a real decrease in spending. I say real because that was the first time in a hundred years that manually per people spending and inflation adjusted terms actually went down. That had never happened before and it went down pretty significantly, especially in the highest poverty areas. And so, these same kids now come in and right when they’re in kindergarten, first, second grade, probably the most critical years, their schools are dealing with major budget cuts. Schools don’t handle that necessarily well. They just fire the youngest teachers. They get rid of the aides. They get rid of the reading coaches. They stop the tutoring. And so, these kids get hit. And so, I think that’s the story. It has a long-lasting impact. Unfortunately, those same kids were in high school when COVID hit. I mean, talk about a double whammy. I mean, they are just getting crushed again and again. So, yeah, look, the pandemic, it had a negative impact on the kids who were in school, but it also had a negative impact on kids who were little, you know, and didn’t get to hit them developmental milestones. So, we’re going to be dealing with kids coming into our schools further behind for a while here, and it’s going to take a while for that to work itself through the system.

On the positive side, when you go back and roll back the tape to the 90s and the 2000s where we had some real huge improvements in student achievement, you say, “Well, what was it?” Well, child poverty had declined dramatically in the 90s with a booming economy and welfare reform and all the rest. Spending did go up in the early 2000s really across the country. And that probably was another helpful thing in combination with some of the reforms around accountability and the like. So now fast forward, you know, despite the horrible pandemic, there is a good news in that child poverty rates are about as low as they’ve ever been, right now. That’s a great thing that’s going to be helpful. You’ve got all this money coming in from the federal government if well spent, could make a difference, OK? So, there’s also some positive things happening here as well. So, there should be some momentum going in. So, we can combine that with doing the right things within the schools. You know, we should be able to make a significant impact on this learning loss and help the next generation of kids that are now coming in that maybe who didn’t experience the school shutdowns do even better.

Jim Cowen You wrote recently in the Gadfly about how achievement in D.C. charter schools was hit pretty hard by the pandemic. Particularly, I’m reading like 9% of Black males, in both D.C. districts and charter schools, just 9% met expectations there. Have you seen any uses of federal recovery dollars that are going after these types of numbers in meaningful ways?

Mike Petrilli You know this better than I do with what you’re tracking there at the Collaborative. I think that there’s some evidence that yes, some places are using the dollars well, you know, and I keep repeating myself, but to give kids more time again. And that means the high-quality tutoring after school, in the summer. There are places that have done that successfully. No doubt it’s hard. Staffing’s a huge issue right now, and teachers are exhausted, so it’s not easy. Maybe next summer if this school year, knock on wood, goes pretty smoothly maybe next summer people will be more energized to do more of that and that’ll be helpful. So yeah, I think there are some places where you’re going to see some bounce back. I’m hopeful, for example, in the charter school sector in some of these super high performing charter schools out there that super high performing before the pandemic, but we’re closed—a lot of them closed just as long, if not longer than the district schools—I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to make up maybe this faster be because they have a culture of high expectations. They have a culture of just being obsessed with whatever the evidence tells them is effective in doing it. They have the flexibility around staffing to make a lot of things work. It’s hard in these big systems, these big districts that have been around 150 years and they just, you know, added so many rules and regulations and red tape over the years. It’s just harder there. But yeah, I think we’re going to see some pockets of that happening. The question is how do we make it, you know, instead of these “islands of excellence” as Rod Paige used to talk about, how do we make it something where it becomes the norm?

Jim Cowen Before the pandemic, I know that seems to be the beginning of every sentence, education, and we saw this for a lot of years, wasn’t the significant issue around elections.

Mike Petrilli Oh, wasn’t that great? I missed those years.

Jim Cowen You could have debates about really boring, wonky stuff and it would never enter the sort of the political debate because it was wonky stuff and that is no longer the case. And so, we’ve seen this change of parental involvement into the education sphere in ways that, you know, it can be really emotional and I mean these debates are becoming highly charged around school boards, etc. Where do you think this is going? How do you think the healthy way to sort of bring in parental involvement into the education sphere? I know this is a treacherous subject, right?

Mike Petrilli Yeah, yeah, no, for sure. Well, I’ve been doing this long enough, Jim, that I remember back in the late 90s, early 2000s when education would be a part of elections, but it was the wonky stuff. You know, Al Gore and George W. Bush in 2000 had a presidential debate where they spent, it must have been 15 minutes talking about education and oh my god. They both agreed that we needed to intervene in low performing schools. And the only question was, you know, Bush said, “Well, if that doesn’t work, then we should give parents choices.” And Al Gore said, “Well, we really should do more to help the schools succeed.” I mean, it was crazy. It was like wonkity, wonkity, wonkity. And you go back to that time and people would bemoan that, “ah, the parties, they’re too much the same and they’re all in the middle.” People are tuned out and bored and, you know, whatever. Oh, to have that back again, great instead of these culture wars which I find myself kind of in the middle on. I think that there’s real issues out there that people, you know, have gotten parents angry. You know, you can find examples out there where some schools somewhere has done something really stupid around some of these sensitive issues. And so, parents are upset.

You know, I also think that some of what happened in the wake of the horrible George Floyd murder and this push for a certain brand of equity and anti-racism, you know, it got interpreted in too many places as a return to what, George W. Bush used to call the soft bigotry of low expectations. It said, “Well, somehow, if we’re for equity, then we can’t be for excellence. Or if we’re for equity, we’ve got to get rid of all the gifted and talents programs, or we got to get rid of all the exam schools.” That’s the stuff, for example, in Virginia that I think really turned the tide with Glenn Youngkin. I think it was that there were some parents, including a lot of Asian American parents, who were just so angry at this argument that suddenly we’re sort of giving up on the meritocracy and we’re going to give up on the idea that schools can be a pathway to the middle class for working class kids. And instead we’re going to just, you know, have all this leveling. Anyways, I just think that there was real stuff there, but now it’s been weaponized and so I think you also see politicians who are all too happy to try to use these issues for their own benefit without, in my view, having a lot of interest in actually trying to solve the issues or bring people together. It’s all about the fight. So, I think for parents as cliche is now the saying, you know, yes, we all had more insight into what was happening with our kids’ schools because we were watching it over the screens. On the whole, that’s a good thing. It’s important for parents to be in informed and to ask questions and to raise a red flag if they see something that is concerning with them.

You know, I’m a big fan of parental choice in really all of its flavors. And so, I think that’s the most powerful way to empower parents for those of us that are public school parents, I think this moment is forcing schools to get better at being transparent about what’s going on in the classroom, and I think that’s, that’s good as well. I mean, I think transparency, sunlight, you know, I think that is where things should be. Now, parents have to understand that you send your kids to public schools, those schools serve lots of different kids and communities and taxpayers. And so, you know, there’s going to be some stuff you’re just not going to like about it. You’re going to have to grit and bear it, that’s part of the deal. But you can’t beat the price.

Jim Cowen It also feels like measurement of progress has never been more important than right now. Yet it’s also understanding that during such a disruption that testing is going to have to be handled accordingly, right? Like, we’ve got to get kids back to learning, but where do you think we’re going? Where do you think we should be going on sort of a future of assessment and how we’re measuring progress on how kids are doing?

Mike Petrilli Yeah. Look, Jim, I mean, I think it’s encouraging actually that I don’t hear anybody talking about a testing backlash right now. I mean, we are very familiar with that having been the case certainly say 10 years ago. Well, why is that? I think people do see value. They’re seeing that of course we know there’s a problem out there. A lot of kids are out of school. We want to know how bad the damage is and then now see if we’re starting with progress, you know, the state tests are helpful in that regard. So are these other kinds of assessments like the NWEA map or the iReady. I think that’s healthy and I’m encouraged by that. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s also the case that those test scores are just for transparency and not for “accountability.” At least in most places. You know, you don’t have these teacher evaluations that like we used to have that were tied to the test scores. There’s really not a lot happening right now in terms of school level accountability, you know, tough sanctions for schools not making enough progress, as you said, understandably. I mean we don’t even have good baseline data in a lot of cases. If and when some of that comes back, I think then some of the backlash comes back. Because I don’t think it was ever about testing, it was about the accountability about what happens with the test scores and the concern in some places that some schools were overly obsessed with trying to get those test scores up in a way that was not about good teaching and learning, but was about basically cheating. You know, juicing the numbers the best you could. We don’t want to get back to that. There’s always been a lot of interest in saying, “are there other measures we can use other than test scores?”

I think we’ve added a few things to that list. You know, chronic absenteeism, fine. College and career readiness at the high school level, OK. In all those cases we need to keep improving the measures, refining it, but we’re always stuck with the same problem, which is it’s really hard to measure a lot of the stuff we would care about. It’s hard to measure it in a valid and reliable way at scale, or if you figure out a way to do it, it ends up looking a lot like a test. So, you know, the extent that we care about whether kids are learning to read and to write and to do math and to learn history and civics and science, we’re going to be using tests to figure that out. And then, you know, the better we can get at figuring out what happens to kids after they leave our schools—are they successful in their career? At a college? In the military?–we can tell if some schools are really making a difference, you know, changing the trajectory for kids in a positive way. Yeah, let’s keep working on that. But it’s hard.

Jim Cowen Mike, any final thoughts?

Mike Petrilli You know, look, I think it’s easy to be despondent. I’ll just maybe speak about myself. I mean, look, this learning loss is terrible and these huge gaps are going to have a real impact on kids in their lives. And so, as upsetting as that is, I think we need that to drive us, to motivate us to keep at the work at hand to support educators who are doing the amazing work out there in their schools and to keep at it, you know? And then I just think we’ve really got to keep questioning. There was an opportunity during the pandemic to question, could we do this? Could we pull off remote learning? You know, and could we do parent teacher conferences online? And could we feed kids, even if they weren’t coming to school and we were able to ask those questions and in some cases, answer in the affirmative. We’ve got to keep that ability to keep asking questions. Is the comprehensive high school the best route for, you know, 99% of American high schoolers? It can’t be the answer is yes. I just can’t believe the answer is yes. So, if that’s not the right answer, then what is a better answer to that than what we’ve got today? And on and on and on. So, let’s keep questioning, let’s keep asking those answers and let’s keep doing everything we can to do right by this generation of kids.

Jim Cowen Thanks for everything that you all are doing for the field. I’m a big fan of your work and thanks for your time today.

Mike Petrilli All right. Thank you, Jim. My pleasure.

Jim Cowen Mike Petrilli

Jim Cowen This is Jim Cowen from The Collaborative for Student Success. Thanks for listening to today’s episode of Route K-12: Exploring Education Recovery. For each week, we showcase ways federal recovery funds are reshaping schools by talking to the people doing the hard work to educate America’s kids. Reach out to us at or follow us on Twitter at our handle @StudentSuccess.

About Jim Cowen



Jim is the the executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success, a non-profit organization that defends strong K-12 policies that benefit all students.

About the Author

Chad Aldeman is a nationally recognized expert on education policy, including school finance; teacher preparation, evaluation, and compensation; and state standards, assessment, and accountability. Keep up with Chad on the EduProgess: Unpacked blog.