Town Hall Series • October 2021

While all the drama around the pandemic and its fallout sucks the life out of schools and communities, far too many heavy-hitters in education policy and politics continue to sit in their silos and fight the battles of the 20th century around curriculum, testing and accountability.

Brightbeam refuses to stand by and watch this go on any longer. Our activists want to see the field stop spinning its wheels and take action for children and their families. That’s why we launched a series of four town hall conversations, entitled Seeking Common Ground.

Seeking Common Ground is about bridging the gap between local communities and national education leaders. It’s also about breaking free of the ideological shackles of yesteryear that stand in the way of a common agenda to benefit students and their families.

So, in October 2021, we launched a virtual town hall series to foster dialogue that points the way to a sensible, common-ground agenda that everyone can fight for, today.

We spoke with a diverse mix of national and local leaders about some of the most pressing issues in the field:

  • Town Hall 1: What young people should be learning as they emerge from nearly two years of isolation into the midst of a bitter culture war over how to teach U.S. history.
  • Town Hall 2: How to use student data responsibly to improve young people’s futures.
  • Town Hall 3: Building mutual accountability between school systems and the communities they purport to serve.
  • Town Hall 4: Supporting the whole child as the world recovers from the devastation wrought by COVID-19.

Below you’ll find links and descriptions to all four town halls. We encourage you to click through and go deeper. Then, we encourage you to sound off your own thoughts on social media and in your community. This is not just talk; it’s a foundation for action. And you are not just our audience—your thoughts and opinions can help shape our common-ground agenda. Join the conversation.

#SeekingCommonGround Town Halls

TOWN HALL: What Should Our Kids Be Learning?

Becky Pringle, president of the nation’s largest teachers union, Dan Weisberg of TNTP, Alicia Dixon of the Marcus Foster Education Institute, and Minneapolis community activist Adriana Cerrillo discuss how we find agreement on what schools should be teaching our children.

TOWN HALL: Disarming the Double-Edged Sword of Data

Education data experts and community activists including the co-founder of the Twin Cities Innovation Alliance, Marika Pfefferkorn, Paige Kowalksi of Data Quality Campaign, and child justice activists Kareem Weaver (Oakland) and Natasha Dunn (Chicago) discuss the role of data in schools.

TOWN HALL: Building Mutual Accountability Between School Systems and Families

Laura Jimenez of the Center for American Progress, Christy Hovanetz of ExcelinEd, brightbeam CEO, Chris Stewart, Washington D.C. activist Maurice Cook, and Janet Gomez, a youth leader from Chicago, discuss accountability systems for schools, students, families and communities.

TOWN HALL: Supporting the Whole Child in a Post-Pandemic World

Robin Lake (Center on Reinventing Public Education), Cierra Kaler-Jones (Communities for Just Schools Fund), brightbeam activist Jason B. Allen from Atlanta, and Jovan Manning (EdLanta Student Leader) discuss finding ways to support the whole child in these times.

Previous Town Hall Series

Seeking Child Justice: Education for Liberation Beyond the Pandemic

Throughout the summer of 2020, brightbeam held a series of virtual town halls on the theme of Seeking Child Justice, moderated by director of activism Zakiya Sankara-Jabar. Check out these town halls below, which touched on the wide range of social determinants of health that affect a child’s life, and sought to build coalition among groups across different sectors.