Feb 14 2022

The Future of Education: The Goals and Scope of the PreK-12 Curriculum

Grantmakers for Education


February 14, 3:00 pm ET

The Spencer Foundation has teamed up with Phi Delta Kappan to publish a series of thought pieces about the kinds of schools and learning opportunities it may be possible to create in the coming decades. Grantmakers for Education is organizing a series of conversations for our members around the themes being explored and implications for grantmaking. Join funders, researchers, educators, students and advocates in exploring what may be possible and how it could shape your work as a grantmaker.  

Session 2: The Goals and Scope of the PreK-12 Curriculum

If we hope to create a truly equitable public school system in America in the coming decades, we must begin by asking what we, as a society, consider to be the most consequential goals of public education, and for whom. What sort of curriculum would best serve the public good? Who do we imagine that public to include? Who is the “we” that our schools should aim to serve? 

The Phi Delta Kappan article related to this session is Possible futures: A curriculum that promotes civic ends and meets developmental needs.

Speakers: Dr. Pamela Cantor, Founder and Senior Science Advisor, Turnaround for Children; Dr. Joe Davis, Superintendent, Ferguson-Florrissant (MO) School District; Dr. Carol Lee, Professor Emerita of Education, Northwestern University; Judy Wurtzel, Senior Director, Education Grantmaking, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies.

Moderator: Dr. Joshua Starr, Chief Executive Officer, PDK International.

This virtual learning series is intended for members of Grantmakers for Education and other funders. There is no cost to attend this program. This session will run for one hour. 

About the Presenters

Pamela CantorDr. Pamela Cantor
Founder and Senior Science Advisor
Turnaround for Children

Pamela Cantor, M.D. is a physician, author, and thought leader on human potential, the science of learning and development, and educational equity. Dr. Cantor practiced child and adolescent psychiatry for nearly two decades, specializing in trauma. She founded Turnaround for Children in 2002 after co-authoring a study that assessed the impact of the 9/11 attacks on New York City school children. In schools located in neighborhoods grappling with ongoing adversity and poverty, Dr. Cantor saw student potential everywhere. But she also saw students acting out and having trouble focusing, teachers struggling to meet the variable and often intense needs of their students, and principals scrambling to build environments that were safe and supportive. She recognized that the research on adversity, the developing brain, learning and health that she had studied in medical school had not been translated and shared with the systems and people that educate children. Science tells an optimistic story about what young people are capable of when the environments and relationships in their lives are designed intentionally to reveal their talents and skills. 

Today, Turnaround translates scientific knowledge about how children develop and learn into integrated tools, and services for educators to establish the conditions for all students to thrive. In two books published in 2021, Whole-Child Development, Learning and Thriving: A Dynamic Systems Approach and The Science of Learning and Development, Dr. Cantor crystallizes key scientific concepts about how human potential and learning unfold so that anyone seeking to open pathways for learning and opportunity for young people may do so. 

Dr. Cantor has shared her insights at convenings across the United States, including the ASU + GSV Summit, Aurora Institute Symposium, Aspen Ideas Festival, Carnegie Corporation/National PTA/American Federation of Teachers Town Hall, CCSSO Summer Leadership Conference, Deeper Learning Symposium, Education Writers Association National Seminar, ExcelinEd EdPalooza, Learning and the Brain Conference, NASBE, and SXSWedu. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, on NOVA and on National Public Radio. She is a featured contributor to Edutopia’s How Learning Happens series which has been viewed more than 11 million times, and to the film A Trusted Space

Dr. Cantor is a governing partner of the Science of Learning and Development Alliance, a collaborative effort focused on elevating science, advancing equity, and transforming education. She received an M.D. from Cornell University, a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and was a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Joe DavisDr. Joe Davis
Ferguson-Florrissant (MO) School District

Joseph Davis, is the Superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District serving 10,000 students in Ferguson, Missouri and eight nearby municipalities. He has served as bus driver, teacher, assistant principal, principal, and Superintendent in North Carolina as well as Deputy Chief of Schools in Chicago. A true equity warrior, he was drawn to Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown and has expanded opportunities and access for all students from pre-school through graduation.

Carol LeeDr. Carol Lee
Professor Emerita of Education
Northwestern University

Carol D. Lee is the Edwina S. Tarry Professor Emerita in the School of Education and Social Policy and African-American Studies at Northwestern University. She is President of the National Academy of Education, a past president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), AERA’s past representative to the World Educational Research Association, past vice-president of Division G of AERA, past president of the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy, and past co-chair of the Research Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English. She is a member of the National Academy of Education, a fellow of the American Educational Research Association, the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy, and the International Society of the Learning Sciences, a former fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Reading Hall of Fame. She has received numerous awards including Distinguished Contributions to Education from AERA, the McGraw Prize in Education, the Squire Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the National Council of Teachers of English, Scholars of Color Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Educational Research Association, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Illinois-Urbana, The President’s Pacesetters Award from the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education and an honorary doctorate from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

She is an author/editor of numerous journal articles, handbook chapters and 10 books and special journal issues. Her research addresses cultural supports for learning that include a broad ecological focus, with attention to language and literacy and African-American youth.

Her career spans 55 years, including work as an ELA teacher at the high school and community college levels, a primary grade teacher, and a university professor. She is a founder of four African centered schools that span a 49 year history, including two charter schools under the umbrella of the Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools where she serves as chair of the Board of Directors.

Dr. Joshua StarrDr. Joshua Starr
Chief Executive Officer
PDK International

Dr. Joshua P. Starr has been the Chief Executive Officer of PDK International since July 2015. Since then, PDK has relocated its headquarters to Arlington, VA and celebrated 50 years of the PDK Poll and 100 years of Kappan magazine. Under Dr. Starr, PDK has expanded Educators Rising across the nation, including launching Educators Rising Collegiate, increased foundation support for its programs, and renewed support for PDK members and other educator scholars. He is the author of numerous essays, book chapters and op-eds and writes a monthly column, “On Leadership,” for Kappan.

Prior to joining PDK, Dr. Starr was superintendent of schools in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland for nearly four years and previously superintendent of schools for Stamford, Conn., for six years. Dr. Starr began his career teaching special education in Brooklyn, N.Y. He became a central office leader in school districts in the NY metropolitan area and served in the New York City Department of Education.

Dr. Starr has a bachelor’s degree in English and History from the University of Wisconsin, a master’s degree in special education from Brooklyn College, and a doctorate in education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Dr. Starr and his wife have three children who have gone through public schools.

Judy WurtzelJudy Wurtzel
Senior Director, Education Grantmaking
Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies

Judy Wurtzel supports Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies’ efforts to improve K-12 education across the U.S., with a focus on instructional materials and professional learning.

Judy has experience in government, philanthropy, associations and nonprofits. Prior to joining the Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Judy was a Senior Advisor to the Noyce Foundation. Previously, Judy served in the U.S. Department of Education under Secretary Duncan as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development and as the founding Director for Technical Assistance and Policy in the Department’s new Implementation Support Unit. She also was a Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Education under Secretary Riley. Judy was also Co-Director of the Aspen Institute Program on Education and Society and served as Executive Director of the Learning First Alliance, a permanent partnership of over a dozen national education associations.

Judy has authored or co-authored numerous reports and studies on education improvement and co-edited Teaching Talent: A Visionary Framework for Human Capital in Education. She currently sits on the boards or advisory boards of English Learners Success Forum, Open Up Resources and Zearn. Past board memberships include Achievement Network, UnboundEd and Urban Teachers Center. Judy started her career in education by teaching English as a foreign language in Morocco. She attended Yale College and earned a law degree from NYU Law School.


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