Kevin: It is often the little things that we unknowingly leave at the edges of our mind, that our roads will be passable, that water will dispense from our faucets, that the post office will manage our mail, and that schools will be accessible to students of all backgrounds and abilities, where literacy and the ability to read and write are paramount to a thriving society.
I'm a realist. I understand that there are substantial and societal subtext to the educating of our young people, and often literacy lands on the periphery. I want to know more. I want to know how literacy rates are impacted by our actions and sadly, our inactions. To understand the role literacy plays in individual rights and representation and the emerging voices and venues of a new generation of learner, centered on personal voice and perspective, I'm happy to be joined by Earl Phalen and Dr. Maryanne Wolf to discuss more.
Kevin: Earl Martin Phalen is a nationally recognized education leader with a track record of successful leadership and innovation. Educated at Yale and Harvard Law School, Phalen began his career in education while a law student at Harvard, where he founded Building Educated Leaders for Life, also known as BELL. BELL operates after-school and summer education programs in several major U.S. cities. BELL grew from educating 20 children on a budget of $12,000 to a national nonprofit annually educating 15,000 scholars with a budget of $27.5 million. Phalen is also the founder and CEO of Summer Advantage, a summer reading program that partners with school districts to provide quality summer learning programs for children in grades K-8. He also founded the George and Veronica Phalen Leadership Academies, a network of K-8 blended learning charter schools. For his work on behalf of children, Earl has received numerous recognitions and awards. President Clinton awarded Phalen the President's Service Award for his impact on the lives of children. He was awarded the BET National Hero Award, and the NCAA awarded him its Silver Anniversary Award. Earl, it's so good to have you on the show. Your commitment to kids is legendary. Thanks for joining us today.
Earl: My pleasure. And thank you so much. Humbled to be here.
Kevin: Well, I have to go back to the beginning. You often tell the story about the fact that you were a kid in foster care in the late '60s. And by the way, I didn't know this, but recently, I found out about 70% of the black kids in foster care end up in jail.
Kevin: And you were one of those kids. You were adopted by George and Veronica Phalen, who happened to be white. And one pivotal moment that I've heard you talk about is the fact that they embraced reading, and that helped change your life. So talk about that.
Earl: Yes. I'm very, very blessed to be adopted at age two. I'm the youngest of eight. My mom and dad had seven children. They're Roman Catholic, so it was, have as many children as you could take care of. So they had seven children, and reading was pivotal. And so I did not like to read when I was young. I had a little bit of confidence and self-esteem issue, and my mom when she was doing the dishes after dinner would say, "Hey, choose any book you want, choose any magazine you want, and read to me out loud." And so that was a painful, painful journey, but it turned out to be a very, very rewarding one. And I know why she did it because practicing reading and getting comfortable with language helps you become a better writer, helps you become a better critical thinker, allows you to express yourself better when you're speaking. So, she made me go through that journey, and I'm thankful that she did.
Kevin: You know, it's funny. I grew up in Indianapolis where you have several schools, and I often share the story that my father happened to be a pharmacist. In fact, we had a drugstore on 34th Street and Central. And it was during the civil rights movement and all the unrest in the '70s, late '60s, and he would give me books to read, and we'd talk about it. And I found that it helped sharpen my critical thinking skills, analytical skills. And even today, I tell people that understanding the power of reading and literacy helps you to become more reflective as opposed to reflexive. Do you agree with that?
Earl: Yeah. I agree with that 100%. I mean, I was blessed to go to college and after college was accepted into law school but decided to defer a year, and I worked at a homeless shelter down in Washington, D.C. called Luther Place Shelter, an amazing shelter. So I worked at the emergency shelter. When women were coming right off the street, there was a continuum. And it was part of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps even though I'm not Lutheran, and so you kind of live with four other people who all were doing different social justice work, and you essentially were asked not to watch television because, if you're around other human beings, you should be engaging with them, or you should be doing something that's productive for the mind. And we only had $85 a month to spend. $45 went to room and board and then $40 went to do whatever you wanted with. And that's when I fell in love with reading because I would go get books, and I was starting to really understand the power of understanding our history and the richness of our history and the strength of our history, not the way that I was taught growing up and not what I was exposed to. And I would read three or four books every week, and to your point, Kevin, it changed me. It changed who I believed I could be, it changed who I was, and it achieved my aspirations for what I wanted to do in the future.
Kevin: Yeah. It also did something else for you, Earl. It helped bring out who you really are because, obviously, you worked at a shelter. You started this amazing summer reading program. You have one of the best-run, highest-performing charter schools in the country. And when I say highest-performing, this idea of growth. You know, look at the starting point. That's what's most important. Where do these kids start when they start out two or three grades behind, and then they make progress? I mean, that's significant, and you've done that. But when I say it brought out who you are, what was this in you, even in school, you know, at law school to start these programs for kids, all of this work around kids, what was the driving force?
Earl: When I was younger, I wasn't aware of the fact that 70% of black boys in the Massachusetts foster care system ended up in the prison system by the time they were 21, but my parents were aware, and that's why they intentionally decided after having seven children that they could care for an eighth. I knew that my parents felt that children were the world, and we grew up Roman Catholic, and just felt that there was a real calling to serve, not the least of thee, as the Bible said, but you get what I'm saying, those who have harder circumstances and have a few more things against them, and that was very much. I mean, I'd get in more trouble, I didn't do this, but I would get in more trouble if I stole something. Again, I didn't do that. But I'd get in more trouble for not standing up for somebody who other kids were picking on. That would get me in bigger trouble and if I did something bad because my parents were, "You have to take care of others." And so I think that being raised that way and then being blessed when I was in law school to work down in Kingston, Jamaica at the Jamaica Council for Human Rights, and I worked at an orphanage...volunteered at an orphanage as part of my service down there, and then seeing a girl's eyes light up when she put one pencil together with one crayon and realized one plus one was two and that she was smart when I was like, "This is my calling. This is what God has put me on this earth to do." So all of those things were factors.
Kevin: Many of the kids that come to you are written off. What is the secret sauce? How do you get the otherwise unengaged child engaged?
Earl: Love. I mean, our scholars know we love them, and we may have high expectations for them, and we may have to sit them down every once in a while and redirect them, but they know that we see who they are, and we see their tremendous God-given innate potential. And they may not see it right at the moment, and they have been in systems that have actually tried to crush who they are, but love is at the center of all we do. So if you come into one of our schools, you'll see joy, you'll see laughter, you'll see a coach taking somebody under their arm, you'll see somebody else sitting down and having one-on-ones because we understand, you know, the old adage, kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. And in our case, we want them to know they are our younger brothers and sisters, they are our future, they are our hope, and we're gonna pour into them everything that our ancestors and other adults have put into us.
Kevin: What structures do you put around that sort of core belief around love and the potential of children to make sure that these kids who really have checked out in education, they come back?
Earl: Well, I remember one of my first volunteer experiences during my first year in law school was at a school in Roxbury, Massachusetts. And, you know, I saw the test scores, and we were all kind of strategizing on how we were gonna support as both tutors and mentors towards the young scholars there. And we just expected to go in and have the place be in shambles and out of control, and it was incredible. Like there was more love in that building than I've seen in many buildings. And so I asked the principal. I said, "Gosh, the culture's great. The scholars are happy. The families are engaged. You know, where's that missing ingredient?" And I think, you know, from that experience, I realized you have to have, as Howard said, both. You have to have structure. You have to have academic growth goals for your scholars. You have to have good communication with families. You have to have a small group tutoring. You have to have ways to respond if children aren't mastering. I'm a firm believer if children aren't learning, then teachers aren't teaching, and it's a responsibility to both teach and learn. And, I think, a lot of educators feel comfortable with teaching. A lot of educators feel comfortable just loving on our scholars. And, I think, you need all three. You need the scholars to learn, and we're accountable as adults for that learning. So, all those three things come together, I think, to help our schools and our scholars have some modicum of success.
Kevin: What specifically do you do with your scholars to ensure that they are reading by fourth grade?
Earl: We do turn around schools. We generally come into schools that are really struggling with scholars. There might be single-digit proficiency levels with all grades of our scholars, and our job is to help our scholars grow and get up to pace. And so what we've tried to do to intensify that growth particularly to hit that third-grade reading benchmark is we've now created a program that's inside our organization called Reading Advantage, which is essentially just tier two instruction, but it makes sure that everybody's using Fountas & Pinnell. So we're not kind of using Teachers Pay Teachers. We're not pulling the interventionists out to cover lunch or to be classroom subs. So we're really making it sacrosanct. We also have an evidence-based program, one of the top proven programs in the country called Summer Advantage. So we're taking time during the summer, that five or six weeks during the summer, to make sure our scholars don't have that two months of learning loss and literacy and math but really continue to grow. We've added now after-school tutoring for our scholars. And so, I think, some of those things are really helping support the growth of our scholars and our schools. And we're really just doubling down on, "We need to have the best of the best teachers in front of us. And so what are the systems and structures we're gonna execute to make sure we have the best of the best to help our children use education to create the futures that they desire and deserve?"
Kevin: So, this is what I really wanna know, and it relates to technology. What I really wanna know, Earl, is, and I've coined the phrase here, is old-school literacy dead? And by that, I mean picking up a book, a hardback book, and reading it with no videos, no digital, no online, CliffNote summaries, you know, just like, "Let your imagination flourish, run away. Sit still without checking email or text messages for two hours." Is that still realistic for today's kids? And since we don't do that, is that one of the challenges?
Earl: I do think that technology can still stimulate our scholars' imaginations in different ways. Our scholars at one of our campuses reenacted Rosa Parks, and so it's Rosa 2020. They kind of wrote the play. They changed it and modernized it, if Rosa Parks Lived in 2020. They directed it. They did the sound on it. They did the green screen and learned about all those things. And so, I think, you can still use technology, and that's just one example of using technology to, A, enhance writing skills, public speaking skills, and stimulating imagination while learning about a critical historical moment that will help you feel better about protest and about progress.
Kevin: Yeah. I totally agree. I think we can still have it. I also think that part of the key is obviously the teacher who can sort of tease out those kind of themes, tease out the ability to use your imagination to reimagine, you know, what the child or student has been reading, and use technology in a creative way as opposed to the stand and deliver lecture format that you and I grew up under.
Earl: Yeah. I think the pandemic has forced people out of that modality, and, I think, it's shown them many things. One is please be respectful of our parents and please see our parents as our partners and one of our most critical partners in the education of children. And the pandemic has forced, if you wanted to get in touch with children, you usually had to go through mom, dad, grandma, or aunt and uncle. I think the second thing is you shared is technology can be a powerful force. And some of our teachers as you'd imagine who had never really used technology, we stumbled in April and May but loved the fact that folks stuck with it and said, "Well, I'm trying to help the children learn, and I know it's a harder platform to do it on because I'm uncomfortable with it, or it's new to me, but I'm gonna stick with it. So, keep giving me the professional development. Keep pairing me up with folks who are really doing it well." And it's been amazing to see across our network and across the country how much better folks have come and how much more comfortable, and the whole notion that the computer is gonna replace the teacher has sort of vanished. And that's been nice to see and nice to see that people see it as an asset and a complement to how to help our young scholars excel.
Kevin: So, what's next for Earl Phalen?
Earl: Another factor that stands in the way of our scholars is our communities and the lack of commitment by mayors and governors and other elected officials to make sure that all citizens in the United States are respected and all stay safe. And so when I have my little scholar, Tavion, tell me, she came into the school building all out of breath, I said, "Why are you so winded, Tavion?" And she said, "Oh, well, I had to run to school today because there was a mass shooting and nothing's been solved. And so I figured if I stood at the bus stop, I'd be not a moving target. So I felt if I moved, I wouldn't get shot at." And I said, "Tavion, I'm so sorry. That's terrible." And then she kept going, and she said, "Well, Mr. Phalen, now I sleep with my feet towards the window as opposed to my head because I figure if a stray bullet comes through the window, then at least it'll just hit my leg, and it won't kill me." And so that stands in the way of progress that our children have to face that each and every day. So, we just launched in wake of Tavion's experience and many of our scholars' experience across all of our communities and then obviously the murder of George Floyd, we launched PLA University, which is a workforce development program free to any member of the PLA family. So if you're an older brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather, mom, and dad, you can come to our program. And it mixes kind of a skills and mindset program to make sure we really have a growth mindset and then a hard credential program and our graduates come out, and they're gonna make $30,000 to $55,000 plus benefits. And we're saying come and bring a sibling, bring a friend, so that that 35 can become 70, and then you have the ability to move and have economic power. If you wanna stay, stay, but if you wanna move, you don't have to be in communities that our elected officials don't seem to care about. And, oh, by the way, once you get that power, which you already have today, use that power to get officials who do care about every citizen in this country.
Kevin: Well, you're doing God's work, my brother. I'm proud of you. Thank you for joining us today.
Earl: It's my pleasure. Thank you for your leadership.
Kevin: Joining us next is Dr. Maryanne Wolf. Dr. Maryanne Wolf completed her doctorate at Harvard University in the Department of Human Development and Psychology in the Graduate School of Education. This is where she began her work in cognitive neuroscience and psycholinguistics. Dr. Wolf has both undergraduate and master's degrees in English literature from St. Mary's College at Notre Dame and Northwestern University. She also designed the RAVE-O Reading Intervention for children with dyslexia and is the author of more than 160 scientific articles. Dr. Wolf is currently working with members of the dyslexia center at the University of California San Francisco School Of Medicine. Dr. Wolf, I am so happy to have you join me today.
Dr. Wolf: Thank you, Kevin.
Kevin: First of all, what an amazing background. Tell me about that artwork back there. It is so unique, and I love it.
Dr. Wolf: Oh, I love it too. It's called May Night, and it's by my son, Ben Wolf Noam, who's an LA artist. But the special aspect is that he is dyslexic. And as you may and some of your viewers may know, I was an expert, if you will, a scholar of dyslexia before my son was ever born. And then when I realized my own son is dyslexic, it was like an extraordinary gift but a challenge too. But this is the result, Kevin. You know, my life is filled with art because of him, and he's an amazing artist.
Kevin: It's beautiful, and it speaks to why many of us gravitated toward education. Everyone has value. Everyone can learn and grow. And oftentimes we categorize people too easily. So, I wanna go back to the very beginning because I have another surprise for you. We are fellow Hoosiers.
Dr. Wolf: That's so funny.
Kevin: I was born and raised in Indianapolis. I know you're from South Bend. And reading about you, Maryanne, and your work, we also share this passion, this love for reading, and your story in many ways mimics mine. So talk about how you developed this interest and this passion for literacy, which started when you developed a love for reading.
Dr. Wolf: So, Kevin, it's a very American story. It is, in fact, the case that I was born a Hoosier, but my family moved to a tiny, little town in Southern Illinois. And they moved there for one reason because they wanted to have a truly ethical education for their children. And so they chose a parochial school, St. Mary's School, but, Kevin, it only had two rooms, two rooms, four grades on one side and four grades on the other. And I was basically, by the second grade, pretty much confident about the fourth grade material, and I became something of a troublemaker because of it. My hand was always up. I was talking too much. And so my parents were in a conversation with Sister Rose Margaret, and they together decided that they would fill the back of the room. And my parents were by no means at that moment well to do at all, but they gave hundreds of books. And so the back of the room during the first four grades of my life were filled with all about the stars, books about saints and heroes, people that I could never meet in little Eldorado, Illinois. And it began my absolute love of the written word and what reading can do to transport us to become people and to know people that we would never ever able to meet, to know, to learn how they feel. And if there's anything that a cognitive neural scientist of reading needs to know, it's what are those precious early feelings with reading, with the experience of reading that we can communicate to all children. So, Kevin, I never expected to be asked this question, but it was because I was a troublemaker in the second grade that I learned the love of reading.
Kevin: Well, you know, my story is not too dissimilar in as much as my father, the first in his family to go to college at 15 in South Carolina State, grew up in Aiken, South Carolina, passionate about education during the time of segregation, became a pharmacist. In many ways, he was self-taught. And he introduced me to books early on. If I would ask him a question, it could be about carpentry, he'd give me a book, and we'd talk about it. So, my whole adolescence was literally reading books with him and talking about it. And he would always ask me, "So, what did that book make you feel like? What did you get out of that book?" And little did I know how much it would impact and positively infect me. So, you know, in today's world, bringing it front and center, Maryanne, we had these similar experiences that changed us because we read so many books early on. Is that still possible in today's world with this new view of literacy?
Dr. Wolf: It's enormous, and it's a very complex story because our research is showing us that the reading brain is plastic, and it's affected by what it reads and on what medium it reads. And so even though this work comes out of neuroscience, it's showing us the absolute importance of literacy for making these connections with background knowledge, with social and emotional development. All of this is happening when we read especially printed books. And here's where the story becomes doubly complex. On the one hand, if we compare when you and I were growing up with our children today, we would pick up a book or a magazine. About 60% of the kids, let's say 30 years ago, were always reading something weekly. That percentage has gone plummeting down to between 12% and 16% of kids picking up a book every week. So, we've got very real differences in how much children are reading books and printed material. On the other hand, we have them using screens and devices for acquiring conceptual knowledge, which is really good. But here's the real complexity. The reading brain is plastic, that will reflect the affordances or characteristics of the medium. So you and I and all the adults today have a fully developed deep reading expert brain that knows how to take knowledge and make the quality of attention able to really use time-consuming, deep reading processes like empathy and critical analysis. Now, I'm putting a lot in a little, short amount of time, but our brain has been elaborated by all that we've read, so we have this. But a child does not have that foundation of a deep reading brain. So, if they're reading all the time on a medium that forces them really to move faster, faster, faster, and skim and word spot, they are not necessarily going to develop the same deep reading skills that helped you and me become immersed in the world of reading.
Kevin: How much of this relates to attention span? Talk to me about that because, in this sort of fast-moving digital world, kids are used to these two to three-minute videos, these short explanations. Back in the old days, we talked about CliffNotes. Well, I mean, this is CliffNotes on steroids now.
Dr. Wolf: That's exactly right.
Kevin: So talk to me about attention span and how that plays.
Dr. Wolf: When we read, we have a quality of attention that takes time. The attention helps really move us into thinking about what we're reading. It moves us into feeling. Literally, the brain circuits are working on two pathways in which they're thinking about what they're reading, and they're feeling about what they're reading. But in a world that's full of distraction, what you see as attention is going like this. And the evolutionary piece of us about attention is that we are programmed to look at whatever is novel. It's called a novelty reflex. So, if those kids are working or reading on a screen and their attention is here, we know that the quality of attention that's necessary to really be critically analytic about what they're reading is not happening. They are word spotting. They're browsing. And unfortunately, Kevin, there's a lot of data now that shows that they are not comprehending what they're reading in the same way because that attention is being so distracted and because they've learned a mode of reading that's more involved than just getting the CliffNote main words and do it fast, which literally neglects the most important parts of reading.
Kevin: I had a young nephew where we experienced this. And I guess what I'm about to say really is a message to young parents out there. And this nephew when he was six, seven years old could read flawlessly, and I was deluded. My wife and I were deluded into thinking, "Boy, he's a great reader, and he understands and comprehends all that he's reading." Well, lo and behold, we started to ask him about what he was reading. We started to probe about some of the things that he may or may not have been digesting. He didn't understand any of it. So this idea of comprehension is, I think, reflected in the fact that you cannot fall asleep on kids who may read perfectly, but they may not be understanding what they're reading.
Dr. Wolf: We want our kids to learn how to decode, just like you say, flawlessly, but they have to read it so that those early processes get connected to the more sophisticated comprehension processes. And reading is so much more complicated than most parents realize. When you read, you are putting your inferential skills together to figure out the truth or the non-truth, which is another thing that our youth are not doing as well. They are not giving the time, they're not attending to generating hypothesis, "Is this true, or is this not true?" They're not giving the time, and so they're more vulnerable, they understand less, and they are more susceptible to false news. Well, we all are but especially our young. We have to learn to read so that we comprehend with the best of our thought.
Kevin: This is what I really wanna know. What should we be doing differently? What should schools be doing? Let's weigh the proverbial magic wand, Maryanne. As you and I, we're creating a whole new approach to education, making sure that literacy is where it should be, walk me through those steps.
Dr. Wolf: I want to begin when the child is born. I want the first five years. I want every parent to know that their role is to develop the parts of the brain that will become connected in reading at five, six, and seven. We are stewards of the next generation, but it begins in zero to five. I want them to read, talk, and sing. Music is so much more important than people realize in developing the temporal aspects of language. But every night, I want them to read a book under the crook of their arm, not a screen to be a babysitter. I'm not saying exclude them entirely but only after two and just gradually. I want them to learn how to elaborate language. If we talk about personalized education, it begins in zero to five where the parent knows what the child is understanding or not, whether they can elaborate language, and so language becomes a courtship and a means of affection. So, the first five years I want all children, all parents to be involved in reading, at the very minimum, a nightly ritual of affection and association with books. Around five, I want every child, if you will, screened for their strengths and their weaknesses. I want those strengths and weaknesses to be understood by the teachers so that by first grade when we are beginning to teach reading in a very serious way, we know which children are going to have some issues that may be on a continuum of dyslexia, maybe because they had a language impoverished environment, maybe because they are an English language learner, all those factors we want to have emphasized in first grade reading. And for those who have special challenges, we want intervention that's based on their profile, if you will, or constellation of strength and weaknesses. Just like my son, he had all these strengths, but he also could not learn to read in the typical way. We have methods that we know that will help. All of that has to be changed. And by fourth grade, no child can be allowed to go into fourth grade without being as fluent and automatic as possible because fourth grade is when we lose our kids.
Kevin: I think we need to explode our definition of assessments because the assessment should be diagnostic and not punitive. And what happens is too many administrators in schools will look at these assessments and thereafter consign kids to certain tracks and assume that they can't learn. And, I think, if you use assessments in a diagnostic way to help shape the approach to get them to maximize on their reading potential, it's a lot different, and I know you've seen that.
Dr. Wolf: So, who on those peaks on international scores is always at the top? Finland. Why? Two reasons. Because their teachers are so extremely trained and because it's not just assessment or diagnostic. It's continuous examination of strengths and weaknesses. So, you may begin here with this strength and this strength, but within six months, that's changed. And the teacher has to be limber and able to give the appropriate intervention or stop the intervention according to this continuous look at how the children are doing it. And we don't have to look at this as a curse. Assessment is not a curse. I'd like to have a completely different look at all of it and say we are following the progress in multiple areas, and where there are strengths, just what Finland does, you bravo, and then you work on those challenges. And this is the other thing that really worries me so much, there are no zip code differences in Finland. If you are in a rural village, you have the right to have the same quality of education as someone in the city. So this is another thing.
Kevin: Well, we need to work on that, but I love what you said about continuous because I think that the structure of systemic education suggests periodic or episodic check-in with kids as opposed to this ongoing approach that you're talking about, and that needs to change. You've been an expert in this area for many years. You've dedicated your life to the literacy of our young. You've worked to help overcome the challenges of literacy around the world. We talked about challenges. We talked about some of the things that we should do to make sure all kids can read and be critical thinkers when they read. Can we get there? Are you hopeful?
Dr. Wolf: I am convinced that most people have the best of intentions for children, and, I think, you know that I've helped co-create something called Curious Learning, which is the literacy initiative that began in Ethiopia, and now is in South Africa and so many places. But my hope every time is with parents and teachers who want the best for their children, our job as researchers and teachers of teachers is to make sure our research is not just theoretical but has practical implications, and that we are constantly working in a reciprocal relationship with the educational system so that teachers are telling us what they need, not just what they need to learn, and so that we are all involved in this great enterprise, which is to, if you will, offer our shoulders and our wisdom to ensure that their wisdom of the next generation will be their goal too. Empathy and wisdom are my two most important hoped-for goals for our young.
Kevin: Dr. Maryanne Wolf, you're a national treasure. Thank you for joining us on "What I Want to Know." I appreciate it.
Dr. Wolf: Thank you, Kevin. It was a joy.
Kevin: Thanks for joining "What I Want to Know." Be sure to follow and subscribe to the show on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app, and don't forget to write a review too. Explore other episodes and dive into our discussions on the future of education. I also encourage you to join the conversation and let me know what you want to know using #wiwtk on social media. That's #wiwtk on social media. For more information on Stride, visit stridelearning.com. I'm your host, Kevin P. Chavous. Thank you for joining "What I Want to Know."
Earl Martin Phalen began his career in education by founding Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) while studying at Harvard Law School). BELL operates after-school and summer education programs in several major U.S. cities. The organization started as a community service project and grew from educating 20 children on a budget of $12K to a national non-profit annually educating 15,000 scholars with a budget of $27.5M.
Earl is also the founder and CEO of Summer Advantage, a reading program that partners with school districts to provide quality summer learning programs for children in grades K–8, and the George and Veronica Phalen Leadership Academies, a network of K–8 blended learning charter schools.
He has received numerous recognitions and awards for his work on behalf of children including the President’s Service Award, awarded by President Clinton. He was also awarded the Black Entertainment Television (BET) National Hero Award, the Fast Company’s Social Capitalist Award three times, and NCAA’s Silver Anniversary Award.
Dr. Maryanne Wolf completed her doctorate at Harvard University, in the Department of Human Development and Psychology. She designed the RAVE-O reading intervention for children with dyslexia, and co-authored the RAN/RAS naming speed tests, a major predictor of dyslexia across all languages. She is also the author of more than 160 scientific articles.
Maryanne received the Christopher Columbus Award for Intellectual Innovation for her work as co-founder of Curious Learning, a global literacy initiative with deployments in Africa, India, Australia, and the United States. She is also the recipient of the Einstein Award from The Dyslexia Foundation for her work in dyslexia.
Currently, Maryanne is the Director of the UCLA Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice and also the Presidential Fellow in Education at Chapman University. She serves as an External Advisor to the International Monetary Fund, a research advisor to the Canadian Children’s Literacy Foundation, and is a frequent speaker at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
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What I Want to Know
In this podcast, you will hear from leaders in education as we talk through learning solutions for homeschool, online school, education pathways, and topics tailored specifically to online students and parents.