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Reality Check with Jeanne Allen

Reality Check with Jeanne Allen

By Jeanne Allen
Get to know the real people, ideas and practices at work across the globe that are transforming the way we learn and live. Whoever you are and whatever you do, you won't want to miss a show! Subscribe now to catch the buzz on kids, policy, technology, and all of the latest in education.
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Learning Keeps Going

Reality Check with Jeanne Allen

Countering COVID's Impact with Innovation in Education - A Look at Pennsylvania's Example
Join us for a conversation on how we're doing in education, and out, one year into this unparalleled challenge. What has changed? What remains to be done?
April 28, 2021
History, Wisdom and Hope for America’s Future
Robert Woodson (@BobWoodson), Founder and President of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise and Jeffery Sikkenga (@AshbrookCenter), Executive Director of the Ashbrook Center join Reality Check to talk about the state of our nation, civics and education across America, why it’s important that we do better in and out of the classroom and how the Constitution and First Amendment need to be read and understood more widely, especially in this unprecedented season of unrest around the world.
January 26, 2021
Now What? Podcast with the Pioneers
Kicking off the 4th season of Reality Check, Jeanne Allen talks with the leading pioneers of education opportunity whose work inspired the many transformative changes happening today about having a new president, new legislators, new everything. Listen to the inspiration of these five leaders who made choice famous, from AZ to DC, from the Badgers to the Wolverines: Lisa Graham Keegan, Kevin Chavous (@kevinpchavous), Howard Fuller (@HowardLFuller), J.C. Huizenga (@nhaschools), and Mickey Revenaugh (@mickeyrevenaugh)
December 12, 2020
How to Help Parents and Students Cope As Education Changes
Social worker, author and professional psychoanalyst Erica Komisar (@EricaKomisarCSW) joins Reality Check to discuss the latest findings on the condition of schoolchildren and their emotional, social and mental well-being throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and how parents and others can best support their young ones in these trying times. Thanks, doctor!
October 08, 2020
The Stakes are Too High
A look at Chicago, unions, kids and the future of schools post Covid. A well-known former Superintendent of major city school systems, the wonderfully outspoken Paul Vallas (@Paulvallas) joins Reality Check to discuss what to do in today’s unprecedented education environment — including where and whether parents should have a say, what the unions are doing and how he thinks other districts educators behave. Not an episode to miss!
September 03, 2020
Special Back-to-School ACTION Series Edition: 'What Parents Want'
Back to School season is usually filled with hope and promise and excitement over another milestone. But this year, Covid has created disruptions in how we do school and many districts and schools still have not finalized their opening plans. While stories abound about parents and their travails, few are asking the big question – What do parents want? Covering that question and more on this special edition of Reality Check are Colleen Dippel, Founder and CEO of Families Empowered (, Houston, TX, Janelle Wood, Founder, Black Mothers Forum ( Microschool Partnership, South Phoenix, AZ, and Keri Rodrigues, Co-Founder and Founding President of National Parents Union (, Boston, MA. Watch this and more of CER's ACTION Series at
August 18, 2020
Seth Andrews on His New College, Degrees Of Freedom
Seth Andrew (@SethAndrew) founder of the Democracy Prep charter school network and the social venture incubator Democracy Builders, joins Reality Check remotely to discuss newest endeavor, a college called Degrees of Freedom (, providing a hybrid late high school, early college experience for students who are low income and the first in their families to attend college. Listen for more!
June 22, 2020
Learning Keeps Going
Kevin P. Chavous, President of Academics, Policy, and Schools at K12, Inc., joins CER ACTION Series Webinars to talk about how his company is responding to students’ and families’ needs in this critical time for education, how educators and advocates in the space can support substantive changes for good in their own systems, and what we can expect in the future for schools across the country. Listen on for more! If you like what you heard, join CER for the next episode in the ACTION Series on June 2:
May 28, 2020
Special Release: The Future of School
This episode is a segment of the third CER ACTION series webinar that took place on April 21, with ASU Digital Prep CEO Julie Young, who joined Jeanne along with hundreds of listeners from all over to discuss her work in virtual education, now, in this serious time of global pandemic, and, for her students, during the regular schoolyear. If you want to know more about The Future of School, visit & bookmark, follow us on Twitter @edreform, and don’t miss upcoming CER webinars, events and resources you can use right now! Hope to see you there. Stay safe, and remember, we’re in this together.
April 29, 2020
Internet in a Box?
Need Internet access but don’t have broadband? Schools wrestling with how to help their students during this unprecedented crisis will want to hear Daniel Neal, Kajeet (@Kajeet) Founder & CEO, on another remote edition of Reality Check. Learn what he and Kajeet are doing now to “bridge the digital divide” and what you can do to respond to or get help during this challenging time.
April 03, 2020
The World of Credentialing, with Scott Cheney
Scott Cheney, executive director of Credential Engine, joins Reality Check to talk about the burgeoning marketplace of credentialing, and how policymakers, entrepreneurs and educators can work together to further streamline the pathways between high school, higher education and the workforce.
March 23, 2020
Higher Education that Works
Mark Defusco, CEO and President of Bay State College (@drmarkdefusco), joins Jeanne on Reality Check to discuss his efforts and experience in helping to create new and better pathways to careers for students in high school, college and those returning to higher ed, through Bay State and initiatives in online and remote education that are making it easier for students to succeed, no matter their location or circumstances...
March 12, 2020
EdInnovation in Italy...and Beyond
In anticipation of the planned U.S.-Italia Education Innovation Festival to be held this April in Ercolano, Italy and in light of the challenges both nations’ educators face with the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreaks, Reality Check talks to 5 innovators who are building and implementing products and services that not only help advance better learning but can be part of the solution to educating students outside of brick-and-mortar schools in this volatile time. For more information about the U.S.-Italia Education Innovation Festival visit: Featuring: Andrea Leone-Pizzighella, PennGSE Enrico Poli, Zanichelli Venture Jamie Heit, Ecree Sam Caucci, 1Huddle Michael McDonald, Gold Lotus
March 06, 2020
Can Innovation Help Mitigate the Impact of COVID-19? A conversation with visionary Jamie Candee
This week, Jamie Candee of Edmentum joins Reality Check with Jeanne and Michael to discuss the way online learning can be more relevant and helpful than ever not only when it comes educating students in both traditional settings and virtually, but also during times of national crises and strife, when more than ever students shouldn’t have to sacrifice their access to a great education, no matter what the situation. How can online learning programs, like Edmentum's, be particularly supportive to our education system and our students with the nation on high alert amidst COVID-19? Listen for more
February 28, 2020
The Future & Learning Technology: Adaptive, AI & Personalization
Area9 Group CEO Ulrik Juul Christensen joins Reality Check to talk about learning science and personalization, in a run up to his keynote at the U.S.-Italia Education Innovation Festival ( in Naples, Italy, April 27-29. From its origins in the 1980s to covering breakthrough new developments in technology, Artificial Intelligence and data science are fueling better, faster learning across the globe. How, why, and more about what it means for K to gray is a must listen.
February 20, 2020
From Politics to EdTech Innovator: Former MA Gov. Jane Swift
Join Jeanne and her co-host, Michael Musante, for this week’s conversation with former Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift, President and Executive Director of LearnLaunch, an edtech innovation hub that connects innovators to emerging trends, and drives the development of high-quality educational opportunities for learners of all ages. LearnLaunch’s “Across Boundaries Conference,” which has been described as New England’s premier education event, will convene for its 8th annual gathering in Boston on Jan. 30-31. The program will highlight innovations across the education sector, and more than 1,500 will be in attendance. Jane highlights several areas of focus for the conference this year, and ties her pioneering experiences in politics to her pioneering work in edtech. For more information about the LearnLaunch Across Boundaries Conference, visit its website: Follow Jane Swift on Social Media: Twitter: @janemswift Facebook: Jane Swift This episode of Reality Check is brought to you in part by Edmentum, providers of adaptive curriculum, research-based assessment, and education services eduators love:
January 24, 2020
A Passion for Education: Former NBA Star Jalen Rose
Join Jeanne and her co-host, Michael Musante, for this week’s inspirational podcast episode featuring former NBA basketball star, and ESPN talk show host Jalen Rose, the Founder and Chairman of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy charter high school in his hometown of Detroit, MI. Jalen holds nothing back when it comes to his passion for a high-quality education for every child, regardless of their zip code, or the circumstances of their home life or their neighborhoods. The Jalen Rose Leadership Academy serves more than 400 high school students from inner city neighborhoods in Detroit – and continues serving graduates into their college or other post-secondary school experiences. One hundred percent of JRLA’s graduates go on to college and post-secondary educational opportunities. Jalen is full of hope, and optimism, and passion (and a few choice words of advice for policymakers). His enthusiasm is infectious, and you will catch it when you listen in on Jeanne and Michael’s conversation with him. Visit the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy website: This episode of Reality Check is brought to you in part by the Charter School Development Corporation: Follow Jalen Rose on Social Media: Twitter: @JalenRose Facebook: @JalenRose Website:
January 13, 2020
A Decision 144 Years In the Making: SCOTUS Takes On Blaine
Get ready for the most important education related Supreme Court case in 50 years by tuning into Jeanne’s interview with Kendra Espinoza, lead plaintiff in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, to be heard by the nation's highest court on January 22, 2020. A win for Espinoza would strike down the bigoted Blaine Amendments that currently exist in 37 states' constitutions and deny kids attending private schools equal access to state education funds. Also joining Jeanne and co-host Michael Musante is Erica Smith of the Institute for Justice. Kendra Espinoza was a single mother of two young girls when fate – and the Montana Supreme Court – propelled her into this legal fight to strike down religious exceptions to equal access to state education funds Montana’s kids. You will be impressed, and maybe a little awed by this story of determination and courage. Don’t miss this inside look at history in the making.
December 31, 2019
A Reality Check on the Democratic Presidential Candidate Education Forum, 12.14.19
The ever entertaining Michael Musante joins Jeanne as her new co-host in this special edition of Reality Check, talking to and about those who help children succeed in public charter schools, innovative institutions that will be maligned and misrepresented this weekend in Pittsburgh, when MSNBC airs the union-organized candidate forum on public education ( Hear veteran charter school educator Melanie Ward from Propel Schools (@PropelSchools), Brian Smith (@smith_brian_d), founder of Catalyst Charter School and David Hardy (@davidphardy)of Boys Latin & Excellent Schools PA ponder why any politician - existing or aspiring - would want to deny parents the power to make choices.
December 12, 2019
The Thrill of Discovering History, with John O'Neill
On this week's episode, episode 80, of Reality Check, Jeanne talks with best-selling author John O'Neill about his latest book, The Fisherman's Tomb, a taut theological thriller about the quest to solve one of the greatest archeological mysteries of all time: where was the tomb of St. Peter? O'Neill, a Naval Academy graduate, and former law clerk to Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, has spent much of his life visiting and researching early Christian sites. Join Jeanne in celebrating the beginning of the Holiday Season with this inspiring tale of intrigue, passion, and the thrill of uncovering the hidden secrets of history.
November 26, 2019
Remember the Alamo! with Brian Kilmeade
Fox & Friends co-host and best-selling author Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) joins Jeanne on this week's episode 79 of Reality Check to talk about his's latest book, "Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory that Changed American History," and what gripping tales of history have to teach young students today. Kilmeade discusses his Fox Nation series “What Made America Great,” and his other books on leading figures in American history including Presidents Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson. “Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers," Kilmeade's sixth book, was released Nov. 5.
November 18, 2019
Honoring America's Vets, with Jim Roberts
Episode 78, this week's special "Veteran's Day Week" edition of Reality Check, Jeanne is joined by Jim Roberts, president of the American Veterans Center (@AVCupdate). Jeanne and Jim discuss the profound and powerful stories of America's men and women in uniform, that shaped so much of our country's history, our values, and our ideals. Listen to this great podcast about how military history brings so much of America's history to life, and why it is so important to remember the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform over the years.
November 12, 2019
Prepared for Success with Diane Tavenner
Diane Tavenner is an author, educator and the co-founder and CEO of Summit Public Schools (@SummitPS), as well as a free program that enables schools across the U.S. to implement Summit Learning, its personalized approach to teaching and learning. Diane joins Episode 77 of Reality Check to shed light on some of the misconceptions around personalized learning, discuss her success with Summit and beyond, and her experiences working with parents, teachers and others in the learning process to promote accountability, clarity and transparency while helping students achieve. Diane’s new book, Prepared: What Kids Need for a Fulfilled Life, her “love letter to educators,” was released this Fall and is a blueprint for how parents can stop worrying about their children’s future and start helping them prepare for it, and a companion website,, contains tips and helpful information for parents who want to be more involved in their children’s education.
October 28, 2019
Champion of School Choice, with Andrew Campanella
THE SCHOOL CHOICE ROADMAP IS AVAILABLE 1/21/20 Please know that all proceeds from the sale of the book are going to support National School Choice Week Andrew Campanella (@andrewrcamp)is the president of National School Choice Week, which has grown under his leadership from 150 events in 2011 to more than 40,000 in 2019. He is the author of the book, 'The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child', a guidebook that helps parents identify education environments that meet their children’s needs. Andrew joins Jeanne on this Episode 76 of Reality Check to talk about his journey to the choice movement, how his interactions with hundreds of parents have shaped and sharpened his understanding of how choice plays out in parental decision-making surrounding their children's education, and why he is optimistic about the future of education in America. Twitter: @schoolchoicewk
October 21, 2019
From Reform to Transforming American Education, with Mike Feinberg
Mike Feinberg (@kippbigdog)has been transforming American education for more than 25 years, starting as a co-founder in 1994 of the KIPP schools – now a national network of over 200 K12 public charter schools. He is now a school venture fund entrepreneur, working to develop multiple pathways for students to succeed in career and in life. In Episode 75, join this insightful conversation with a true pioneer on everything from why charter schools succeed to what to do with higher ed’s myriad missteps to the politics of education reform as the 2020 presidential campaign kicks into gear.
October 15, 2019
Meet Miss Virginia
Miss Virginia & Bringing Opportunity to D.C. A new motion picture is debuting this month, featuring the story of Virginia Walden Ford (@VirginiaWalden) whose fight in Washington, DC to save hers and others’ children from failing and violent public schools led to the creation of the Opportunity Scholarship Program. On Episode 74 of Reality Check, she joins Jeanne to share her story and talk about the movie, Miss Virginia (@missvirginiamov) which is based in part on her crusade. The movie, is a compelling reminder of what’s at stake when education is not our number 1 priority.
October 07, 2019
Parent Choice on Trial: #SCOTUS & Blaine Amendments, with Attorney Paul Clement
Attorney Paul Clement, former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia and U.S. Solicitor General brings his expertise to Episode 73 of Reality Check to discuss the Blaine Amendment and parental rights, the subject of an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case. Clement breaks down what you need to know to be informed about the most important education case in over a generation.
October 01, 2019
The Secret to Choosing College with Michael Horn
On Episode 72 of Reality Check, Jeanne delves into higher education and more, as well as the new book Choosing College with author and “disruptive innovator” Entangled Group founder Michael Horn (@michaelbhorn). Horn cuts through the noise, and helps students, parents, and educators alike focus on the things that should matter the most in the rapidly changing world of higher education. Listen for more discussion on the host of options available to leaners at all levels when it comes to work toward a degree or credential, including new alternatives still under development. With the growing speed and number of innovative new solutions in the public today, what is the true value of a traditional degree, and how are people from all walks coping and taking advantage-or not- of new pathways to knowledge and career-readiness?
September 24, 2019
Staying Competitive in the Global Knowledge Marketplace
GSV Founder and CER Vice Chair Michael Moe joins Reality Check for Episode 71 this week to discuss the future of learning; new advances that are rapidly changing the workplace and the classroom alike, “How we get people the skills, the knowledge, the connectivity” to thrive in the 21st century,” and breakthrough alternative ways that people are learning and sharing ideas today. Listen for more on the role of data and information in shaping the global knowledge economy, why both China and AI should be on the U.S. ed and tech world radar screens, and how traditional education will continue to be “augmented in different ways for people to represent the knowledge that they have” in the future.
September 16, 2019
The Biggest Fight in Washington (And it’s not at 1600 Pennsylvania!)
Executive Director of the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools ( Dr. Ramona Hoage Edelin and Shawn Hardnett, Founder and Executive Director of Statesmen College Preparatory Academy for Boys Public Charter School ( in Washington, DC, join Jeanne for a not-to-miss Episode 70 of Reality Check covering the state of charter schools in the District of Columbia today, from the ever-present struggles for autonomy of schools that are so vital to charter communities, to the growing involvement and effects felt by schools from corporate development and gentrification across the city. The Association, in conjunction with their campaign End the List (@EndtheList), is looking forward to their chance to make their case to the DC Council for why specific buildings in the District should be released for use to charter schools that have proven their efficacy in closing the pervasive achievement gap, time and time again. Every student deserves a world-class education. Sign up to learn more and to make your voice heard!
September 09, 2019
#SummertimewithCER: A Conversation with Steve Forbes (Originally published 12/19/18)
Well-known publisher and writer Steve Forbes joins Jeanne Allen for today's episode of Reality Check to discuss prosperity, revitalizing education, and his hopes for the future. Tune in to learn about his new documentary “In Money We Trust?” too!
August 26, 2019
#SummertimewithCER: A Conversation with Kevin P. Chavous (originally published 10/15/18)
Kevin Chavous has run the gamut when it comes to advocating for expanded innovation in learning and furthering opportunities for families and children, having been an integral part of the success in initially bringing charter schools to Washington, D.C. and as D.C. councilman helping strengthen school choice and public education in the District. Apart from his public service, Chavous, president of academics, policy, and schools for K-12 Inc., works in the worlds of both business and law, and has authored four books including his latest, The Plan. Kevin sits down to discuss personalizing learning for every child, how to work within — and without –politics to accomplish policy changes, the horizons for virtual and digital learning, and new innovations in business technology connecting students to data to parents and back to teachers to achieve a more dynamic, connected class. Don’t miss this and more on this edition of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen.
August 20, 2019
#SummertimewithCER: A Conversation with Ulrik Juul Christensen (originally published 12/26/17)
Every teacher knows that children all learn differently, and yet our schools are designed to teach them all the same way. In this week’s Reality Check with Jeanne Allen, one of the world’s leading experts in Adaptive Learning explains how it’s changing training in the workplace, and how it can help schools too. Ulrik Juul Christensen, medical doctor and entrepreneur, explores the way computer science is meeting cognitive neuroscience at the cutting edge of educational theory.
August 12, 2019
#SummertimewithCER: A Conversation with Eva Moskowitz (originally posted 5/7/18)
Eva Moskowitz is known as the CEO of Success Academy Network. With 50 campuses throughout New York City and more in development, she’s regarded as a charter school crusader, innovator and the architect of a revolution but it’s been a long contentious road. “I never felt before I got into education that I was living a Godfather movie,” says Eva – only half joking. Success Academy has been sued more than twenty times by unions. Union battles and political roadblocks have been a part of the landscape since she started her very first school with 150 kindergarteners and first-graders in 2006. But her passion is boundless and her commitment to educating not only her more than 100,000 students but parents and the general public through her book The Education of Eva Moskowitz. “We need everyone to be informed because the stakes are so high.”
August 05, 2019
#SummertimewithCER: A Conversation with Howard Fuller (originally posted 12/12/17)
On the inaugural episode of Reality Check in 2017, Jeanne talked with Howard Fuller, a professor of education at Marquette University in Milwaukee, and a former Superintendent of the Milwaukee Public Schools who’s a pioneer in school choice. He is the author of the 2014 book, No Struggle, No Progress: a Warrior's Life from Black Power to Education Reform. Among other things, they discuss the “re-segregation” of American schools, and whether that really matters or not; the true intent of Brown v. Board of Education; the power of giving educational choices to low income families.
July 29, 2019
Fix Unequal Educational Opportunity, with Sen. Mary Landrieu
This week’s guest is a rare commodity in American politics. As US Senator from Louisiana, Democrat Mary Landrieu (@SenLandrieu) often bucked conventional wisdom of her party to put children’s needs ahead of adults. She is a supporter of the DC Opportunity Scholarship program and a leading proponent in Congress of charter schools, which she sees as a “powerful tool to fix the generations-long challenge of unequal educational opportunity.” (WSJ, April 23, 2019) She pulls no punches in talking about the candidates, the president and the state of public affairs. Our last edition for the summer, this Episode 69 of Reality Check is really hot!
July 15, 2019
A New Model for Rural America with Ben Chavis and James McDougald
America’s heartland is where much of the goodness of America’s heart can be found, and today on Episode 68 of Reality Check, Jeanne chats with two amazing leaders who help keep the heart of educational excellence beating there. Ben Chavis and James McDougald both grew up in Robeson County, North Carolina – the very definition of rural – some might say real – America and both have returned. Chavis, who hails from the Lumbee Indian tribe, is an educator, school founder and was leader of one of the most successful charter schools in America – Oakland California’s American Indian Charter school. McDougald was a football hero at Wake Forest University, a star in the NFL and is City Commissioner for Maxton. They pull no punches in describing the roadblocks, frustrations but ultimate successes of advancing quality education in “flyover country”.
July 08, 2019
Who Will Watch the Watchers?: Dr. Christine Ivie, Supt./Principal of Heritage Academy
Several Idaho charter schools were attacked and vilified by members of the Idaho Charter School Commission at a meeting the members thought was “closed”. Fortunately someone recorded the session, at which members disparaged the schools, students, management and indeed all residents of Jerome, Idaho. In this Episode 67 Special Release of Reality Check, Jeanne interviews Dr. Christine Ivie, Superintendent and Principal of Heritage Academy Charter School ( in Jerome, Idaho. Dr. Ivie’s school and several other Idaho charter schools were attacked and vilified by members of the Idaho Charter School Commission at a meeting the members thought was “closed”. Heritage Academy’s student body has a large majority of students of color, more economically disadvantaged students and more English learners than other Idaho charters. It has succeeded in raising scores for its students. Idaho’s Charter Commission needs members who actually believe in and support charter schools. The chairman and other members of the commission who expressed such disdain for the charter community need to resign. Tune in to hear the sad details of the attack on these charters and the plan to fight back.
June 25, 2019
An Anomaly in Public Ed: Innovation-minded NC State Superintendent Mark Johnson
Longstanding institutions, including healthcare and education, have remained unchanged despite a climate of lightning-fast innovation in technology. According to this week’s guest, “every student should have the opportunity to go to school, work hard, and reach their American Dream,” no matter what the path or provider, a challenge with the current education bureaucracy. Thankfully Mark Johnson is challenging the status quo. Tune in to Episode 66 of Reality Check to learn how a new generation of elected official is leading the fight for transformation of public ed. @MarkRJohnsonNC
June 24, 2019
Conquering a Failing Traditional Education System, Eugene Slocum of Alpha Academy
The old saying that “mighty oaks from little acorns grow” is a spot on description of the Alpha Academy Charter School and STEM Institute ( From 90 students in 2000 to more than 900 today, Alpha and its CEO and Superintendent Eugene Slocum are revolutionizing education and breaking the mold for education in underserved communities like Fayetteville, North Carolina. @Alpha_Academy_ on Twitter Tune in to Episode 65 of Reality Check and be inspired!
June 18, 2019
HOPE for Life, a Conversation with some special students
Talk about HOPE! Well it’s out there, and this Episode 64 of Reality Check is all about it. Learn how an education group is tailoring education to the needs of students - 40,000 of them - and not the other way around. Learn4Life and its’ program called HOPE ( new mothers to have their children in the classrooms with them - which turns out to be good for both mother and child. Girls who would otherwise be high school dropouts graduate - often quite literally with “babes in arms” - to new horizons and life opportunities. Give a listen and hear first hand experiences from Staci Roth the HOPE program coordinator, Lenor Miranda who just graduated in May, and current student Fabiola Ceritos.
June 11, 2019
Education Rebel, Dennis Littky
Self-described “radical educator” Dennis Littky (@Dennis_Littky) talks about his ideas for making education meaningful, impactful and relevant to individual students. Really radical things! Through his work as a school leader and founder of College Unbound, Dennis helps address the needs of students whose needs are not met by traditional education and adults who are among the 37 million college dropouts, creating education specifically around their interests while allowing them to get a degree while also working full time. Littky’s approach is the epitome of the “K - Career” vision that 21st century education must embrace to stay relevant. Tune in to Episode 63 of Reality Check to hear from this radical, fascinating - and successful - education rebel.
June 04, 2019
Guest Ashley Berner: No One Way To School
Dr. Ashley Rogers Berner, Deputy Director of the Institute for Education Policy at Johns Hopkins School of Education, joins Reality Check to discuss educational pluralism and more: her 2016 book, Pluralism and American Public Education: No One Way to School, educational choice in America and around the globe, international communities’ attitudes toward the biggest domestic educational issues, the history of religious schools and their resurgence in the States, educational models we can learn from, and how teachers are using their freedom as educators and what they can do to continue to improve schools. These topics and more on this week’s Episode 62 of Reality Check.
May 29, 2019
The State of Education and the Politics Behind the Opposition with David Hardy
This week on Episode 61 of Reality Check, David Hardy (@davidphardy), Executive Director of Excellent Schools PA and Founder & CEO of Philadelphia’s Boys’ Latin Charter High School joins the show to discuss the current state of education and the politics behind the opposition, covering everything from “what education should do for each child and student” to the looming presidential race and where education issues will fit for the growing pool of candidates, this episode of Reality Check should not be missed.
May 20, 2019
NCSW edition: Bob Bellafiore and Harmeet Dhillon
Jeanne sits down in Episode 60 of Reality Check with two stalwarts on the front lines of the battle to defend choice and freedom for teachers and other public employees, Harmeet Dhillon and Bob Bellafiore. Though Dhillon is in California and Bellafiore in New York they are fighting remarkably similar battles to force unions to obey the law that was codified by the Supreme Court’s “Janus” decision. Harmeet is representing California teachers who had to go to court to get their union dues refunded – dues they have been owed for months. The unions erected a Rube Goldberg style obstacle course that needs to be navigated in order for teachers choosing freedom to receive the refunds now legally required by Janus. Bob is involved in “New Choice New York”, which reaches out to public employees in New York and elsewhere to explain how they can opt out of paying union dues or agency fees, and how to fight the inevitable foot dragging and intransigence of the unions. Harmeet and Bob are walking the walk. Their stories are both alarming and encouraging giving an up close and personal look into the fight for workers’ freedom.
May 15, 2019
Higher Education IS for Everyone - An Interview with Mitch Daniels
On this Episode 59 of Reality Check, Jeanne sits down with Mitch Daniels, the president of Purdue University and former governor of Indiana, to talk about bringing a renewed sense of relevance and purpose to higher education. Daniels is no ordinary college president. He is putting fidelity to Purdue’s origins as a land grant college, making education more accessible to more people while maintaining rigor and containing costs. He has started a high school network, driven competency-based education and aligned with a major US company to create a global university. These and more hot topics are the focus of this week’s Reality Check
April 29, 2019
David Bruce Smith - The Grateful American
“If students don’t know history, it’s not their fault.” Those are the words of author, philanthropist and “grateful american” David Bruce Smith with whom we explore the enthusiasm for American history that led him to found the Grateful American Foundation in 2014. Smith seeks to re-ignite that same passion in young people - and adults - across America. On Episode 58 of Reality Check he talks about the special bond he shared with his grandfather, the real estate developer Charles E. Smith; his lifelong love affair with learning; and the Grateful American Book Prize, which he launched in 2015.
April 22, 2019
Some of the Most Innovative People on the Planet - Live at ASUGSV 2019, Part 2
In this Episode 57 of Reality Check, Jeanne continues her conversations with some of the high-energy personalities at the ASU+GSV Summit, where innovators, edtech leaders, educators, investors, and philanthropists gathered last week to explore innovations in education both at home and around the world. In this part, she heard from Torian Richardson (education innovator, world traveler, and entrepreneur); Bart Epstein (Founder, Jefferson Education Exchange); April Sarraille (Knowledge Leaders); and John Filmore (Chief of Business Operations, Chegg).
April 15, 2019
Some of the Most Innovative People on the Planet - Live at ASUGSV 2019, Part 1
Jeanne taps into the buzz and the energy of ASUGSV X, where innovators, edtech leaders, educators, investors, and philanthropists gather to explore innovations in education both at home and around the world. In Episode 56 listen to Part I of these people who stopped by Reality Check to share a bit about how they are bending the Arc of Human Potential - Bobbi Kurshan (Investor & UPenn Innovator); Bruce Davis (Teachstone); Jeremy Rossman (Make School); Melissa Lazaro (Lexplore); Candice Burns (Friendship Public Charter Schools); Jon Hage (Charter Schools USA); and Ann Brown (Waterford Institute).
April 10, 2019
EdTech and Innovation w/ Deborah Quazzo
Deborah Quazzo (@deborahquazzo) is the founder and managing partner of the annual ASU-GSV Summit, which will be held this year from April 8 -10 in San Diego, CA. The event, now in its 10th year, celebrates innovations and innovators across the global “preK to gray” learning and talent landscape, and attracts over 4,000 attendees. In this “curtain-raiser” interview for the summit, on Episode 55 of Reality Check, Deborah talks about her journey to the $2 trillion dollar emerging market in global ed tech; why innovators and investors now see education as a deeply consequential growth market; and how the ASU-GSV Summit incubates and accelerates growth by forging the passions and energy of super-talented individuals across a range of sectors in a crucible of collaboration and innovation. For more information about the summit, visit the ASU-GSV Summit website at:
April 03, 2019
David vs Goliath: The Land of Enchantment Goes After Charters
Educator and school founder JoAnn Mitchell, runs an award winning, high performing charter school serving low-income children. The NM Secretary of Education is throwing roadblocks in the way of her replication and expansion. Why would someone concerned about students interfere? Mitchell is having to hire attorneys to fight the state. On Episode 54 of Reality Check, Jeanne digs into this real life David and Goliath story unfolding right now.
March 27, 2019
Is EDREFORM the New Blue? w/Rick Hess & Jay Greene
A new blockbuster report entitled “Education Reform’s Deep Blue Hue,” examines the political preferences of many of the people across what some consider prominent “edreform” groups. And what exactly constitutes this increasingly amorphous term? Listen to Episode 53 of Reality Check to this provocative discussion of these topics and more.
March 20, 2019
How Charter Schools Improve Public Ed - Jim Goenner, National Charter Schools Institute
From the role of charter school “authorizers”; to why charter schools are so often misunderstood; to why there is no “one-size fits all” model for charters; Jim Goenner delves deeply into the question of why charters schools work on this Episode 52 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen. “As a strategy to improve public education, chartering is working phenomenally well,” says Goenner. “Why did charter schools take off? Number one there was just a pent up demand and need. Number two it’s a great idea!” Listen in to this edition of Reality Check, to get the real scoop about the critical role of charter schools in driving innovation in public education in America.
March 13, 2019
Jimmy Kemp on Opportunity Zones, and the legacy of the late Jack Kemp
Jimmy Kemp, president of the Jack Kemp Foundation, joins Jeanne on this Episode 51 of Reality Check and discusses the legacy of his late father, former congressman, cabinet secretary, and vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp; how professional football shaped Jack Kemp's career in public service and his passionate advocacy to end poverty and racism in America; and how Opportunity Zones, a feature of the 2017 tax bill strongly supported by the Jack Kemp Foundation, has the potential to improve educational choices in low income communities across America.
March 06, 2019
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Expanding Opportunity and Educational Freedom
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos joins host Jeanne Allen for Episode 50 in this special newsmaker edition of Reality Check, and discusses the administration’s recently announced proposal to create tax credit scholarships in participating states.
February 28, 2019
The Future of Education— Reimagining Learning with Kelly Young
Kelly Young, executive director of Education Reimagined, joins Episode 48 of Reality Check to talk about her quest to bring learner-centric education models and methods to the forefront of practice in the field and tools and techniques to the hands of teachers longing for a better way to help their students accomplish more. Young discusses the need to reimagine and refocus the way young people are educated and stay lifelong learners throughout their time as a bona fide student, as well as beyond classrooms in the workplace, and continuing as an individual among the many people of the world. Young takes listeners through Education Reimagined’s mission and the relationship between competency and a learner-centric model, why it’s so important for the future of school and work together, and what it means for the future of America. This and more on this week’s Reality Check with Jeanne Allen.
December 08, 2018
Unions & the Status Quo: Standing Up to Goliath with Rebecca Friedrichs
Rebecca Friedrichs, lead plaintiff in the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court case Friedrichs v. CTA, staunch advocate for teachers’ rights, and author of the newly released Standing Up to Goliath: Battling State and National Teachers' Unions for the Heart and Soul of Our Kids and Country which details her plight and the stories of educators from across the country, joins Episode 47 of Reality Check to discuss teachers unions and the entrenched educational establishment, the impediments and roadblocks to good change, progress that they can and do create, what teachers and parents alike can expect in the future for worker freedom, and what they can do to support teachers and better education in America today.
December 01, 2018
Information Portability, Data Sharing & Choice in Ed with Jonathan Harber
Jonathan Harber joins Episode 46 of Reality Check in New York to discuss his work as an education technology pioneer and entrepreneur in the education world and realm of capital. Jonathan talks through the concepts behind the StartED accelerator, education data, the portability of information, and the newest information-sharing initiatives in schools and education. He also discusses school choice and parents’ role in their children’s education, equitable funding for charter schools, and his own experience as a founder and operator of a charter school. Don’t miss these topics and more on the cutting edge of innovative, redefined delivery of education on this week’s episode of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen.
November 17, 2018
Putting Education in Reach of Every Child, with Denise Gallucci, GEMS Education Americas
Denise Gallucci, chief executive officer of GEMS Education Americas, works tirelessly within and outside of her own company to help build a global citizenry among learners at all levels who can contribute positively and make real change in their own lives and for the world. Denise joins Jeanne on Episode 45 of Reality Check to discuss her experiences as an award-winning educator, successful businesswoman, and chief executive that have led her to believe education is “the link between people all over the world.” Denise and Jeanne discuss schools’ reliance on age-old concepts and tried-and-failed solutions like throwing useless money at issues to no avail, the desperate need for schools to reinvent themselves, why all learners and teachers need to work to innovate -- globally -- and how the world can build critical thinkers and learners of everyone engaged.
November 10, 2018
The Media & Education with Laura Meckler
Laura Meckler, education correspondent with the Washington Post, sits down with Jeanne Allen on Episode 44 of Reality Check to discuss her path to journalism and the education world and more. Laura shares her thoughts and her personal experiences covering politics, politicians, and education policy: the ease of finding material to write about, online learning, and other issues. Don’t miss her first-hand account on exciting topics like these on this week’s episode of Reality Check.
November 02, 2018
Innovation and the future of MOOCs with Anant Agarwal
CEO of edX Anant Agarwal joins Episode 43 of Reality Check to speak about the state of innovation in higher education, new developments in his business and others, learning and structural models on the way, and discusses his success with edX. He also speaks about his experience as a teacher and what we can expect for the future of online higher ed in America and globally.
October 28, 2018
Governor Jeb Bush
A lawmaker, advocate, businessman, and even celebrity (he did a cameo on the Emmy’s in 2016), Governor Jeb Bush has done it all! But what makes him most compelling is his command of the most important issue of our day -- education. Jeb --  as he’s often known -- is also Honorary Chair of the CER Summit on October 26th in Miami, Fla. (For more info, visit In this Episode 42 of Reality Check with Jeanne, Governor Bush discusses what it takes to make all lives better -- and why innovation in all of education is essential.
October 20, 2018
Special Episode: Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin — Passion for Education & the Arts
The new Miss America, Nia Franklin, 25, proclaimed during the recent competition that,“As Miss America I will continue my work to make sure students across this nation have access to a quality education.”  She is a role model, and her achievement and success are an example for all, particularly women, of what educational opportunity combined with hard work can do. Nia’s strength of vision and purpose has helped her achieve her goals, and chasing her dream she has overcome incredible obstacles and hardships. Nia joins Episode 41 of Reality Check to discuss that vision and her thoughts for a future that everyone has the opportunity to participate in equally and equitably.
October 13, 2018
Former WI Governor Tommy Thompson talks Education, Opportunity and Economic Prosperity
“… That’s what get’s me excited -- if you bring people together, you can actually build on something and solve a problem.” Tommy Thompson has spent decades of his career bring people of all stripes together to solve problems, from his time as governor of Wisconsin from 1987 to 2001, to his service as Secretary of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush, to his role as a strategic advisor to entrepreneurs and lawmakers alike and as a voice in his community and for many across the country. Throughout his life and across all his initiatives and efforts Thompson has remained a staunch and relentless advocate for improving health and expanding opportunity. This week on Episode 39 of Reality Check, Governor Thompson sits down to discuss the beginnings and condition of education and opportunity in America, as well as some of his newest ideas to increase economic prosperity for some seldom thought-of candidates.
September 28, 2018
Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest on NC Education, Opportunity & the Economy
Dan Forest’s role as Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina includes much more than the traditional responsibilities of his office -- this week on Episode 38 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen, Forest talks about making education a priority, using funds effectively and working in and out of the business, education and technology sectors to create a more fluid economy in his state, from encouraging advances in innovation to working in the statehouse to help policy work for every community. Dan Forest has served as Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina since January 2013. Prior to becoming Lieutenant Governor, he received two degrees from the University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC). After college, Dan became a leader in the business community for over 20 years, having served as office president and senior partner of the state's largest architectural firm - Little Diversified Architectural Consulting. Dan has been designated as an Architect Emeritus. A father of four, he and his wife, Alice, reside in Wake County.
September 22, 2018
Jonathan Hage, Charter Schools USA
As founder of Charter Schools USA, Jon Hage drove education management innovation -- and is one of 8 outstanding honorees to be awarded for their work at CER’s 25th Silver Anniversary Summit on October 25-26 this year. But his extensive experience as a businessman and executive, philanthropist and trusted advisor to U.S. administrations on education make his story that much more compelling and this week’s Episode 37 of Reality Check episode a must-listen. From his service in the U.S. Army to his creation of CSUSA, Jon Hage’s life and career have been dedicated to service, leadership, and creating systemic change for the better for America’s schools and schoolchildren. Jon sits down with Jeanne to talk about challenges and milestones along the path to edreform in Florida, how we can continue to innovate in the new K12 and business environment and more.
September 14, 2018
On the Way to Global Higher-Ed and World Class Degrees with Andy Rosen, Kaplan, Inc.
Andy Rosen, chairman and CEO of Kaplan Inc. sits down with Jeanne to cover everything in postsecondary education, from new innovations happening at Kaplan’s Purdue Global to how Higher Ed is speaking -- or in some cases, not speaking -- with the K-12 community. How is the pipeline to the workforce and career development is being invested in and streamlined for an online generation? This and more on this week’s Episode 36 of Reality Check.
September 07, 2018
Gisèle Huff, The Jaquelin Hume Foundation
Dr. Gisèle Huff is both interesting and engaging. While education transformation has been her main focus, she is also deeply interested in redirecting how the world of philanthropy works. Gisele’s background is extensive – she currently serves as Executive Director of the Jaquelin Hume Foundation and is the founder of the Learning Accelerator. She began in business, earned a Ph.D. in political science, with a concentration in political philosophy at Columbia University and taught at Golden Gate University, San Francisco University High School and Dominican College. She has been chairman of the Board of Directors of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Learning and as a member of the Board of Directors of iNACOL, among many other distinguished positions. She talks to Jeanne about her findings after many years of working in policy and philanthropy. This Episode 35 of Reality Check is a must for discerning listeners!
September 01, 2018
What is the 'Modern School?' with Chris Whittle
Creating innovative opportunities to build a different type of education system is one of the things that Chris Whittle does best. He is reimagining education, creating what is being called “the first global school.” As Chairman and CEO of the Whittle Schools and Studios, Whittle is leading this global network of independent pre-K to 12 schools that are challenging traditional schooling methods and creating a better, more connected world. Coming in the fall of 2019 are the first two campuses of the Whittle Schools in Washington, D.C. and Shenzhen, China. Each campus will serve approximately 2,500 students and will feature spaces for modern learning, including areas for project-based learning, online learning, labs, global communications, and common areas. For more information on Chris Whittle and the Whittle Schools and Studios visit their website - Episode 34 of Reality Check
August 24, 2018
Strayer Education President Brian Jones
Nothing lowers the spirit of Brian Jones, not even the ALS he was diagnosed with last year. He calls himself blessed, and the thousands of colleagues and friends he’s accumulated over the years are at testament to that. Former general counsel at the Education Department under President George Bush, and president of Strayer Education, Brian’s own experience growing up taught him the value of empowering people to find the education that best suits their needs, whatever the time or place might be. “One thing I love about being in higher ed today,’’ Brian says, “is that we do live in a time of really rapid innovation. Technology is really driving the ability to be able to personalize learning in ways that were just unthinkable a generation ago.” This thoughtful, aspirational, and fascinating interview is a must listen. Episode 33 of Reality Check
August 18, 2018
Education Choice Author and Researcher, Mike McShane
Being a classroom teacher in Alabama showed Mike McShane, of EdChoice, just how much children around the country were being denied the opportunity of a quality education. He didn’t like it. So, he did something about it. More in this Episode 31 of Reality Check.
July 28, 2018
Leading the Way in Ed Innovation & Opportunity: Nat. Heritage Academies w/Brian Britton
Having a vision of what education could look like and offer is what led J.C. Huizenga to open National Heritage Academies. It’s also what drives Brian Britton every day as the President and CEO to oversee 87 charter schools around the country. Episode 30 of Reality Check
July 20, 2018
Innovation, Opportunities and Progress: AZ Success Is No Accident: Lisa Graham Keegan
Imagine, if you will, a time when educational choice was something only very few people were bold enough to speak about. It wasn’t that long ago. Lawmaker, state superintendent for public schools, national advocate, and now Chief Executive at the Arizona Chamber Foundation, Lisa Graham Keegan talks about the last 25 years in education reform on Episode 29 of Reality Check.
July 13, 2018
Active Philanthropist and Education Reformer, Steve Klinsky
Steve Klinsky, head of New Mountain Capital, conceived of the “Freshman Year for Free” which is the focus of the Modern States Education Alliance. Students can earn a year of college – or more -- without tuition or textbook expense. This podcast is a must listen for anyone concerned about the cost of higher ed. Episode 28 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen
June 29, 2018
CEO Phoenix Charter Academy Network, Beth Anderson
Phoenix Charter Academy Network’s three schools that are focused on challenging resilient, disconnected students with rigorous academics and supports so they take ownership of their futures. CEO, Beth Anderson, talks about why this model is critical to their futures and success as self-sufficient adults. Episode 27 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen
June 22, 2018
Jacob Huebert & Scenes From the Supreme Court Steps
Janus v. AFSCME is the case that is disrupting the work of organized unions everywhere. Jacob Huebert is an attorney who represented Mark Janus, the plaintiff in the case, before the US Supreme Court. Jacob talks about the impact of the then-not announced decision on teachers and unionized workers. Episode 26 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen
June 17, 2018
How Children Grow into Stable, Successful Adults: A Conversation w/ Erica Komisar, LCSW
The age-old question from parents is “How do I ensure my children grow into stable, successful adults?” Erica Komisar, a clinical social worker and parent guidance expert offers tips on this topic in her new book Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters and more in this Episode 25 of Reality Check.
June 15, 2018
Completion with a Purpose: The Path To Higher Learning, with Carol D’Amico​
The need for a seamless intersection between higher education and workforce development has led Carol D’Amico, Executive Vice President of Strada Education Network to lead a major national effort to drive change in these sectors. Her focus? “Completion with a Purpose.” Learn how on this Episode 24 of Reality Check.
June 08, 2018
Education Innovator, Bill Walton
Fueled by his interested in “the barriers to change,” Bill Walton has built a lifetime of experiences and diverse avenues of success. He’s an entrepreneur, producer, supporter of the arts, and investor in ways to foster a free market in education. Join Jeanne & Bill this Episode 23 of Reality Check.
June 01, 2018
Colin Sharkey
Big changes are likely on the way for teachers, teachers’ unions and potentially for no less than the entire model of US education. “We really need to rethink the framing of the profession,” says Jeanne Allen. The impending Supreme Court ruling on the AFSCME v. Janus case and the growing demand for professional autonomy among teachers nationwide are just a few of the topics in this episode with guest Colin Sharkey. As Executive Vice President of the Association of American Educators (AAE), Colin is uniquely qualified to discuss the challenges facing today’s teachers. AAE is the nation’s largest non-union professional educator association with members in all fifty states, serving public districts, public charter educators and any employee working in schools. The AAE mission is to foster the transformation of the teaching profession by empowering and supporting a community of professionals for the benefit of students and the nation. Episode 22 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen
May 26, 2018
If You Think Teacher Strikes are About Pay, Think Again
20,000 North Carolina teachers took to the streets of Raleigh for what was billed as a march and rally against low wages and underfunded schools. It was neither. “My heart goes out to the teachers that did turn out for the rally. The problem is, the rally organizers have an anti-charter school agenda,” said North Carolina Association of Public Charter Schools’ Executive Dir. Rhonda Dillingham. North Carolina is the latest in a wave of coordinated efforts to engage charter school teachers to abandon their classrooms and their students under the façade of solidarity. This is the fifth in a series of walk-outs and sick-outs being encouraged by the National Education Association (NEA). In this Episode 21 of Reality Check, Jeanne Allen is joined by charter school advocates, Rhonda Dillingham and Pamela Blizzard, the founder of two highly innovative charter high schools to unpack the messaging and hidden union agenda.
May 19, 2018
Darla Romfo
Darla Romfo is the president and COO of the Children’s Scholarship Fund. CSF provides partial scholarships for low-income children in grades K-8 to go to private school. CSF has provided scholarships to more than 166,000 children and currently serves almost 26,500 children nationwide. Ms. Romfo has served as CSF’s president and COO since the organization offered its first scholarships in 1999. Prior to joining CSF, her positions on Capitol Hill included legislative director and counsel to Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) and legislative director and tax counsel to Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) She’s also been an attorney in private practice. A frequent speaker on education and school choice, her vision is clear as CSF marks 20 years of making educational opportunity possible with thousands of new scholarships that empower families. “The real issue is that every parent should be able to decide for their kid what is the best option for them and to make that choice. And that money should follow them.” Episode 20 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen
May 12, 2018
Sarah Tantillo
If there’s one person who’s been-there-done-that in the world of education, it’s teacher, author, scholar, advisor and sought-after speaker, Sarah Tantillo. She taught English and the humanities in both traditional public and charter schools in New Jersey for 14 years. She chaired the Humanities Department at the highly-regarded North Star Academy School in Newark, and her students achieved an extraordinary 100 percent passing rate on the High School Proficiency Assessment for Language Arts and Literacy. She founded both the New Jersey Charter Resource Center and the New Jersey Charter Public Schools Association. Her books include The Literacy Cookbook and Literacy and the Common Core: Recipes for Action, with a new one out later this year about how the charter school concept became a national movement. She holds degrees from Princeton, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Rutgers. Episode 19 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen
May 07, 2018
Laura Sandefur
Laura Sandefur is the co-founder of Acton Academy. She and her husband Jeff began with one school in Austin, Texas in 2009 initially motivated to give their children a different kind of education than they could find anywhere. They began as they say, “with a blank piece of paper” to build their dream school. Today, Acton Academy is a growing network of more than 80 innovative schools all over the world. Incorporating blended learning, the Socratic discussions, multi-aged learning environments, hands-on real-world apprenticeships, adaptive game-based programs, and teachers who are referred to as “guides” Acton Academy’s rigorous program has literally turned learning upside down. Episode 17 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen
April 27, 2018
Lenore Skenazy
“We’re criminalizing common sense and rationality and we’re elevating hysteria to not only the common good but also what you must be to be an ok parent.” How do we overcome this? Jeanne Allen’s guest Lenore Skenazy has made overcoming this hysteria her life’s work. And for it, she’s been labeled “America’s worst mom”! But in this Episode 16 of Reality Check, we’ll hear frank conversation about how an innocent solo train ride by her 9-year old son spawned a movement to allow kids to be more resilient and independent, beginning with a book and a blog entitled “Free-Range Kids” and now 10 years later, is still going strong through her new organization Let Grow—in schools, homes and communities across the country.
April 21, 2018
Matt Greenfield
Matt Greenfield is Managing Partner of ReThink Education, a venture capital firm focused on educational technology. He is on the boards of BrightBytes, Allovue, CareAcademy and Southern New Hampshire University. His non-profit affiliations include the leadership council of NewSchools Venture Fund and the board of But Matt mostly thinks of his role as a problem solver. “As an investor, I start with solving a problem.” He wrote the business plan for the step-by-step modules for behavioral therapy in the treatment of autism which became “Rethink Autism”—now simply “Rethink.” With a background in academia and educational technology, he insists there’s more to moving students toward their goals and ultimately a career path, “It’s not just technology but a respect for students,” Greenfield asks, “Does it delight and engage the students?” Episode 15 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen
April 14, 2018
Jeanne Allen commentary on NAEP and A Nation Still At Risk
In 1983, President Reagan urged students to understand the new world in which they lived: “Your generation is coming of age in one of the most challenging and exciting times in our history. High technology is revolutionizing our industries, renewing our economy and promising new hope and opportunity in the years ahead . . ." “Make sure you get the training and skills you need to take advantage of [these] new opportunities… Get a good education. That’s the key to success. It will open your mind and give wings to your spirit.” On the eve of the 35th anniversary of the release of ‘A Nation at Risk’ our students’ wings are clipped. National achievement has been stagnant for too many years, according to the results of the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress. It’s as if we’re in 1983 all over again, when A Nation at Risk declared that “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.” The result then was a movement that catalyzed a nation into challenging the status quo. And yet, despite amazing progress creating the opportunities and changes in a tired system that have allowed millions of students to have education that they would not otherwise be able to access had it not been for this report, today’s education report card on the state of national reading and math are dismal. With fewer than 40 percent of our students proficient in any subject, these scores are a sobering reminder that we remain a nation at risk with far too many children and young adults poorly educated, unprepared to enter college or the workforce, and ultimately, unable to achieve the American Dream of living a rewarding, prosperous life. Listen now to this Episode 14 Special Edition of Reality Check, as Jeanne Allen shares her insights and analysis of the trends and challenges we face if the nation’ does not transform how—and what—we do to educate learners at all levels.
April 08, 2018
Robert Pondiscio
Robert Pondiscio is a senior fellow and vice president for external affairs at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and a senior advisor to Democracy Prep Public Schools in Harlem, New York. He writes and speaks extensively on education and education reform issues with an emphasis on literacy, curriculum, teaching, and urban education. He came to the field of education as a second career and never intended to stay. He has become one of its most passionate spokespersons for reform and innovation. “I have a complicated relationship with testing and accountability.” Episode 13 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen.
April 07, 2018
John Schilling
John Schilling is the President and CEO of the American Federation for Children, which was chaired by Betsy DeVos until she became Secretary of Education last year. John is a veteran of more than two decades in the field of education reform. “Choice works,” he says. “When you put parents in the driver’s seat, you find that giving parents the power to find the best educational environment for their child means that you’re going to give options to a lot of kids who don’t have them right now and really need them.” John Schilling is Jeanne Allen’s guest in this Episode 12 of Reality Check, a National Review podcast focusing on education issues.
March 24, 2018
Carl Schramm
If there’s one thing that America’s public schools could use, it’s the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. This week’s guest on Episode 11 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen is Carl Schramm, former president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation, who found himself spending many years studying what really makes a business succeed. The title of his new book, Burn the Business Plan, rips apart one of the most cherished assumptions in the world of business schools. As a professor at Syracuse, he’s seen it all, and his experience brings him to a lot of unconventional ways of thinking. Under his leadership, the Kauffman Foundation became the first grant-making foundation to own and operate its own charter school. Learn what allows some to succeed and some to fail in this Reality Check.
March 10, 2018
Mark Mix
Can a private organization force someone to pay them to speak on his or her behalf? That's the question before the U.S. Supreme Court as it hears oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME on Monday, February 26. The case may well mean the end of mandatory dues under agency shop agreements, the major source of funds for public employee unions, including the teachers' unions which have a stranglehold on the nation's public schools. This week's guest on Reality Check with Jeanne Allen is Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which represents Mark Janus, the plaintiff in the case. Learn all about one of the most important Supreme Court cases of the year on this Episode 10 of Reality Check.
February 24, 2018
Robert Enlow
The late Milton Friedman once wrote, "The tragedy, and irony, is that a system dedicated to enabling all children to acquire a common language and the values of U.S. citizenship, to giving all children equal educational opportunity, should in practice exacerbate the stratification of society and provide highly unequal educational opportunity." This week's guest on Episode 9 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen is Robert Enlow, the president of EdChoice, which was founded two decades ago as the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Enlow, once a man of the left, now devotes his life to making Friedman's vision of equal educational opportunity for all a reality.
February 09, 2018
Gerard Robinson
This week's Episode 8 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen features a discussion with Gerard Robinson, whose career includes running the education departments of not just one but two states, and a passion for focusing on the nexus between criminal justice reform and education. From Historically Black Colleges and Universities and his work at the Thurgood Marshall Fund, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Center for Advancing Opportunity, there are probably few education experts in America who have a broader understanding of the challenges and opportunities that await education reformers today than Gerard Robinson.
January 27, 2018
National School Choice Week
This is National School Choice Week, and so this week we have a special hour-long edition Episode 7 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen with a constellation of guests. You’ll hear interviews with some of the brightest lights in the school choice world, including Johnny Taylor and Sylvia Simms, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Senator Ted Cruz, and House members Paul Mitchell, Virginia Foxx and Luke Messer. You’ll also hear from some of the beneficiaries of school choice tell their heartwarming personal stories, including Denisha Merriweather and Walter Banks. Get excited about school choice this week, with Jeanne Allen!
January 19, 2018
Tom Carroll
The major tax reform law that passed Congress in mid-December 2017 included a provision expanding the use of so-called 529 plans—tax free savings accounts that allow parents to put away money for their children’s college education. Now, they can be used for elementary and secondary education too. In this week’s Episode 6 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen, Thomas Carroll, a leader in the effort to include the measure in the tax bill, explains why it’s so important: “it’s the first time that a national school choice measure has been adopted [at the federal level] in the past 20 years.” Carroll knows what he’s talking about—he helped create New York’s charter school law and founded a network of high-performing urban charter schools.
January 13, 2018
Why Is College So Expensive
Why has a college education become so expensive, throwing millions of students into debt before they’ve even entered the work force? This week’s Episode 5 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen explores that and related issues with John Katzman, one of he nation’s leading experts in higher education. “Technology in every other industry has lowered costs,” Katzman points out. But “in higher ed, it’s actually raised costs.” Moreover, “The reality is that education has gotten more expensive, but not the teaching part. The actual teaching is about 20 percent of what a school spends on a student.” For more, check out this week’s podcast on education with Jeanne Allen.
January 06, 2018
This week’s Episode 4 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen features a discussion of the extraordinary 20 year history of BASIS Schools with co-founder Michael Block, who launched their international network of schools with his wife Olga back in 1998. From a single school in Tucson, Arizona BASIS has now grown to more than 30 schools which set the pace for private, public and charter schools alike. “Very early on,” he says, they “recognized that hard work and perseverance and failure is important. The ability to learn from your failures is really very important.” Today, four of the top five high schools in the United States are BASIS Schools. Find out how they did it!
December 29, 2017
Democrats for School Choice
This week, Episode 2 of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen features a discussion with guest Joe Nathan, Director of the Center for School Change in St. Paul, Minnesota. Joe has been at the cutting edge of the education choice movement in America, and helped write the nation’s first charter school law. He’s a prime example of the wide philosophical range of those who embraced choice at the outset in the early 1990s—he describes himself as a “Paul Wellstone Democrat”—and who have been making common cause with political conservatives in creating real choices and opportunities for lower-income children, whose lives a good education will change.
December 16, 2017