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Designing Education

Education Podcasts

A podcast hosted by Robert Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center

A podcast hosted by Robert Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center


United States


A podcast hosted by Robert Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center






Students at the Center: Linking Learning to Life for All

Throughout most of the twentieth century, high schools were seen as the end of formal public education. After high school, some students went to college, mainly those interested in the professions—medicine, law, architecture, engineering, and so on—but most went right to work or started a family. There were some vocational courses offered in high school, mainly because there was federal funding and it was often viewed as an outlet for students not perceived as academically inclined, but by...


Episode 5: Nonprofit Education Partners: The Judgment-Free Zone

Farah Jimenez, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Education Fund, joins Robert Balfanz to explore the function of local education intermediaries and examine the roles they play in designing the education systems we need to enable all students to succeed. One of the unique features of education in the United States is how decentralized and localized the decision-making is. This has the ability to be a source of creativity and flexibility, which are necessary for innovation, but can also...


Episode 4: Success Coaches – The Secret Sauce to Equitable Learning?

In this episode, Dr. Jonathan Mathis, Senior VP of Education for Policy and Systems Change at City Year, explains how near-peer success coaches can help make schools more equitable and effective for all. One reason why many low income and minority students do not have a strong pathway to adult success is that too many attend a subset of middle and high schools where a large number of students constantly face the challenges of poverty and discrimination—far more students than there are...


Episode 1: Recapturing Lost Credits

Nearly two years of pandemic-related disruptions have caused Many young people to miss out on significant amounts of learning and instruction. In this episode, Dr. Balfanz is joined by Educational Resource Strategies Chief Executive Officer Dr. Karen Hawley Miles and Senior Manager Eddie Branchaud to discuss credit recovery and the challenges that schools face as they help students get back on track. Hear about what Karen and Eddie have discovered as they look closely at the strategies...


Episode 2: The Big Blur: Combining the End of High School with the Start of College

This is the second episode in a series of conversations with education thinkers from across the country. In this episode Dr. Balfanz is joined by Joel Vargas, Vice President of Programs at Jobs For the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit that drives change in the American workforce and education systems to achieve economic advancement for all. It has become a common refrain during the last year and a half that we should not return to the pre-pandemic “normal,” but use the disruption to...


Episode 3: Making High Schools Better One Day at a Time

In this episode, Dr. Martha Mac Iver, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Center for Social Organization of Schools, joins Dr. Balfanz to discuss her new book, “Continuous Improvement in High Schools.” The book offers practical guidance to high school leaders and teachers on using a continuous improvement approach to enable more students to succeed. Those designing education systems that work for all students need to resist the temptation to latch onto...


Trailer: Designing Education with Robert Balfanz

Launching April 4, 2022, Designing Education is a podcast hosted by Robert Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center. In each episode, Dr. Balfanz will talk to education leaders and thinkers with bold new ideas to reshape American education so that it works for all students. Together, we tackle some of education’s most pressing challenges and untapped opportunities. Whether you’re a researcher, education advocate, teacher, school leader, district leader, or education reformer, we...