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No Child Left Behind?

“Injustice” in America is not limited to the civil justice or criminal justice systems or our legal system in general. There are many forms of injustice that have nothing to do with the legal system. One such example is found in our national education system, and we explore that in a new episode of the Justice Counts podcast.

Our public and private schools, for instance, fail to effectively assist students whose passions exist outside the normal systemic school curriculums—kids who are bored or otherwise disengaged. The system also has historically failed to those who perform poorly or below average academically. The opposite is also true—those students who achieve academic excellence are rarely challenged to the level of their true ability or capacity.

In addition, students, parents, and teachers also experience injustice as the result of uneven application of school discipline policies, standardized testing, or class curriculum. In fact, even when there is agreement about injustice, different schools, different socio-economic environments, different parent-teacher organizations often disagree on the level of injustice or appropriate solutions to rectify the problem.

Our Justice Counts guest, Erika Twani, is pushing back. She is the co-founder and CEO of the Learning One to One Foundation. Her philosophy is to simplify complex concepts and make them useful for everyone, starting with children.

To do so, she uses insights and skills from her 20+ years of experience working with corporate technology companies shaping products and services for worldwide scalability. Her organization works with thousands of teachers and education leaders in various countries.

She believes most students would benefit from one-on-one training that emphasizes independent character and judgment—she encourages students to identify and master their passions. Wouldn’t someone who is passionate about, let’s say, cooking, be better suited to instruction provided by world-renowned chefs?

One of the interestingly bright side-effects of the COVID 19 pandemic crisis has been the expansion of online learning programs. While online learning is another example of educational injustice (communities with limited resources cannot always afford unlimited access to the Internet), the pandemic trend toward online learning has created more opportunity for a student to find educators to teach to their passions.

Even before the pandemic, educators were under stress. According to Twani, more than 200,000 teachers leave the profession each year. Many report that their mental health is not good, and a significant number report that they feel pressure to improve test scores rather than teach relevant subjects.

Twani left a lucrative position at Microsoft to co-found and become CEO of the Foundation, which seeks to connect a student’s passion to his or her skills development. Her book, Becoming Einstein’s Teacher, provides a six-step framework to educate kids via self-directed learning.

Twani believes that schools must become places where teachers support kids in discovering their passions, focus education on that passion, and produce passionate children with a specific skill that will benefit mankind. She does not seek to end public education; she seeks to redefine it, tap into a child’s passion, and make the world a better place.

If you care about the educational system in our country, check out our interview on the Justice Counts podcast, with the fabulous Erika Twani.This was one of our best and most fascinating discussions. Please listen and enjoy.

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