Opinion  /  Rick Hess Straight Up Blog
Introducing Your Special Guest Stars: Sanford, Baxendale, Scott, and Pondiscio

Hi all,

It's been a hell of a stretch. And things don't appear to be sorting themselves out anytime soon. As you know, I've been running wall-to-wall conversations about schools and coronavirus for the past seven weeks. There's a lot that we've all been eager to know, and I thought it invaluable to hear directly from this amazing collection of educators, analysts, funders, and policymakers. But to all things there's a season. I've been feeling, now that we're past the initial shock of pandemic and school closures, that it's time to shift gears. To that end, starting next week, we'll be shifting to a power-packed lineup of guest bloggers.

First up, the week of May 18, is Stefanie Sanford, the College Board's formidable chief of global policy and external relations. Prior to joining the College Board, Stefanie spent over a decade at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—much of it as the chief of U.S. policy and advocacy. She'll be writing about what coronavirus has taught us about the digital divide and keeping students on track outside the classroom and the College Board's experience with virtual AP instruction.

For the week of May 25, we'll have Helen Baxendale, the director of academic affairs and policy for the Arizona board of regents. Prior to this, Helen was an instructor at Oxford, where her Ph.D. dissertation examined Teach For America program as a lens for understanding U.S. school reform. Helen will be digging into the rise, struggles, and future of Teach For America.

Harvard University senior lecturer Irvin Scott will take over the week of June 1. Irvin was the force behind the launch of Harvard Ed School's Leadership Institute for Faith and Education, which convenes education and faith-based leaders. Irvin's background includes more than 20 years in schools and districts as a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and chief academic officer.

Robert Pondiscio, a veteran educator, Fordham Institute big wheel, and author of the terrific How the Other Half Learns , will wrap things up the week of June 8. Readers will recall him from the finely crafted guest letters he's penned for RHSU (see here and here) or his popular guest stint last fall. In 2002, after two decades in journalism, Robert left a senior position at Business Week to teach in the Bronx. Today, he writes about school improvement with a practical bent.

Stay safe, tune out the noise, focus on what matters, and check out what our guests have to say. You'll find it well worth your while. And I'll look forward to being back with you in mid-June.