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America wants transformation in its educational system. But can we agree on how to get there?
Everyone wants the best education for their children. But parents and teachers don’t always agree on how to get there.
In this episode we talk with two education leaders whose views clashed when they first met. Dr. Gisèle Huff is a philanthropist and longtime proponent of school choice, including charter schools. Becky Pringle spent her career in public education. A science teacher for three decades, today she is president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union.
After some deep initial skepticism these women and other leaders came together and developed a transformational vision for US education. Along the way they developed a deep respect for one another, and a friendship that has helped each of them through personal tragedies.
This podcast was co-produced in partnership with Convergence Center for Policy Resolution and is one of a series of podcasts that Common Ground Committee and Convergence are producing together. Each highlights the common ground that resulted from one of Convergence’s structured dialogues-across-differences.
Read the Episode Transcript
National Education Association president Becky Pringle is a fierce social justice warrior, defender of educator rights, an unrelenting advocate for all students and communities of color, and a valued and respected voice in the education arena. A middle school science teacher with 31 years of classroom experience, Becky is singularly focused on using her intellect, passion, and purpose to unite the members of the largest labor union with the entire nation, and using that collective power to transform public education into a racially and socially just and equitable system that is designed to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.
Becky’s passion for students and educators, combined with her first-hand classroom experience, equip her to lead the movement to reclaim public education as a common good. Becky was elected in 2020 as COVID-19 ravaged Black, Brown, and indigenous communities nationwide.
Before assuming NEA’s top post, Becky served as NEA vice president and before that as NEA secretary-treasurer. She directed NEA’s work to combat institutional racism, and spotlight systemic patterns of racism and educational injustice that impact students. Under Becky’s guidance, NEA works to widen access and opportunity by demanding changes to policies, programs, and practices. The Association’s goal is to ensure the systemic, fair treatment of people of all races so that equitable opportunities and outcomes are within reach for every student. This is why Becky is a staunch advocate for students who have disabilities, identify as LGBTQ+, are immigrants, or are English Language Learners.
Those who know Becky best know that she is also a passionate Philadelphia Eagles fan who loves anything purple, and for two special someones who hold the coveted title of “Best Nana B” in the world.
Dr. Gisèle Huff is president of the Gerald Huff Fund for Humanity. The loss of her son Gerald to pancreatic cancer in 2018 spurred Dr. Huff to apply her talents and energy to a cause they both shared – concern about technological unemployment, the growing economic divide and the potential of UBI to help address these challenges on a broad scale. Dr. Huff served as San Francisco University High School’s director of development for twelve years, and the Executive Director for the Jaquelin Hume Foundation for over twenty years where her return on investment for launching blended learning is legendary.
During her tenure funding initiatives and raising awareness for education reform, she has held numerous board positions, including founding member and chairman of the Board of Directors of The Learning Accelerator and the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, member of the Board of Directors of iNACOL and the Advisory Board of Education Reimagined. She currently serves on the board of Income Movement.
Her substantial policy proficiency includes the Advisory Board for Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy, the advisory committee for the National Charter School Research Project at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, and the Executive Committee of the Digital Learning Council. She is the recipient of the Thomas A. Roe Award and the iNACOL Huff Lifetime Achievement Award. She earned a Ph.D. in political science, with a concentration in political philosophy, at Columbia University.