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Scenes and Highlights From Our ExpandED Salon

Deb Levy

Deb Levy is Director of Communications & Marketing at ExpandED Schools. 

L-R: ExpandED Salon moderator Soledad O'Brien with panelists Kevin Lieber (host of Vsauce2), Matthew Tabor (editor of EducationNews.org) and Dale Russakoff (author of The Prize)

What do a famous video-sharing website, cats’ fear of cucumbers and a $100 million gift to Newark schools have in common? All were discussed at our ExpandED Salon.

Junior Board members and Annual Fund co-Chairs Natalia Garzon and Joey Mensah thank the audience for joining the conversation.

This past Tuesday, Studio 1 in YouTube Space NY was filled to capacity as ExpandED Schools Board Chair Soledad O’Brien moderated a panel that was filmed in front of a live audience of professionals from all industries who share an interest in education issues.

Soledad warmed up the crowd by asking a few questions. Who works in schools? (A few hands) Who believes that their schooling had an impact on who they are today? (Everyone) She then called up her first panelists: Kevin Lieber, host of Vsauce2 on YouTube, and Matthew Tabor, editor of EducationNews.org.

Kevin credits curiosity as sparking his educational journey and believes everyone should have access to enriched learning opportunities. Through the videos that he and Matthew create for the Vsauce2 channel, nearly 3.5 million people from all over the world gain knowledge in ways that weren’t possible more than a decade ago. As Matthew explained, “It ends the monopoly on information.” Who are these millions of people who tune in every week to learn about science or technology or some random historical fact? “Anyone with internet access and a pulse,” Kevin said.

L-R: Board Member Christopher Swope, ExpandED Schools President Lucy Friedman, author Dale Russakoff and Board Member Roger Blissett.

The conversation took a more serious turn when Dale Russakoff, author of The Prize, shared her insights on what went wrong with Mark Zuckerberg’s investment in Newark schools. Soledad asked, “If you had to pick one person, who’s to blame?” Dale replied, “No one. 

And everyone.” She said that a huge mistake was ignoring what kids need in their lives in addition to academics, and in allocating so much wealth without a plan.

“Ed reformers should look at education as a whole ecosystem,” Dale cautioned, saying that it is essential to address consequences of poverty if we want all kids to thrive. Soledad added that understanding racial inequality is also critical to unraveling the problem of education injustice.

L-R: Attendee Raisa Bruner and Junior Board Members Omar Njie and Cole Weston.

Speaking of video, we will be putting together a video of the evening’s highlights. Stay tuned! The audience had opportunities to ask all three panelists insightful and probing questions. Junior Board members and Annual Fund co-Chairs Natalia Garzon and Joey Mensah spoke from the heart about what drew them to the ExpandED Schools mission. But of course, being at YouTube, videos say it best. So the evening ended on a high note with a peek Inside ExpandED Schools

(So why are cats afraid of cucumbers? Matthew explained it quite simply: the long, narrow shape seen out of the corner of a cat’s eye triggers an instinctual fear of snakes. And there you have it.)

*Click here to view more photos from the evening.


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