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Pepperdine | School of Public Policy

Building Collaborative Education Policy In California

Education Conference


Watch the conference video here.


Building Collaborative Education Policy in California

Friday, October 6, 2017
10 am-1:30 pm

Wilburn Auditorium
Drescher Graduate Campus, Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 

For more information, please contact Melissa Espinoza at 310.506.7490

The education conversation in California is complex, heated, and usually leaves little room for dialogue among the various key stakeholders charged with improving educational outcomes for students. Too often educators, school districts, community leaders, parents, and students seeking to find helpful solutions to current challenges faced within public schools find themselves on polar sides of the discussion and education policy. Are there paths toward collaboration?

The School of Public Policy and Evelyn Aleman (MPP '00), president of Media Image PR, invite you to the 2017 Education Conference, entitled "Building Collaborative Education Policy in California." The conference will feature Hanna Skandera, former secretary of education for the state of New Mexico, as keynote speaker. Skandera was appointed by Governor Susana Martinez in 2011, to lead the transformation of New Mexico public schools. Under Skandera's leadership, New Mexico graduation rates reached an all-time high, AP course enrollment doubled, and the number of "A" and "B" schools increased by one-third.

The event will comprise two panels featuring state and local education leaders, led by well-known local journalists: Laura Greanias, executive editor of LA School Report; and Kyle Stokes, K-12 Education Reporter at 89.3 KPCC.

Conference Agenda

9-10 am Registration & Light Breakfast
10-10:05 am Welcome: Dean Pete Peterson
10:05-10:50 am Keynote Speaker: Hanna Skandera (MPP '00)
10:50-11:50 am Panel 1: Current Challenges in the Educational Landscape
12-12:30 pm Lunch
12:30-1:30 pm Panel 2: Moving Toward Collaboration - Sharing Best Practices
1:30 pm Next Steps, Program Ends

Conference Panels

 Keynote Address: Hanna Skandera

Hanna Skandera headshot - Pepperdine University

Hanna Skandera (MPP '00)
Former Secretary of Education, New Mexico

Hanna Skandera recently stepped down from nearly seven years of leadership as the secretary of education for the State of New Mexico. Appointed by Governor Susana Martinez in 2011, Skandera led the transformation of New Mexico public schools. Under Skandera's leadership, New Mexico graduation rates reached at an all-time high, AP course enrollment doubled and the number of "A" and "B" schools increased by one-third. Nationally, Skandera serves as a board member of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, is a member and former chair of Chiefs for Change, serves as the chair of the George W. Bush education advisory and is a former Aspen-pahara fellow. Prior to serving in New Mexico, Skandera served as deputy chief of staff under US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, undersecretary of education under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and deputy commissioner under Governor Jeb Bush. Skandera was previously a research fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and taught education policy at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy.

 Panel 1: Current Challenges in the Educational Landscape


Kyle Stokes headshot - Pepperdine UniversityKyle Stokes
K-12 Education Reporter, KPCC

Kyle Stokes is a K-12 education reporter who, since joining Southern California Public Radio's education team in February 2016, has primarily focused on Los Angeles' public school system. Stokes has been covering education since 2011, most recently with NPR member station KPLU Public Radio in Seattle (since renamed KNKX). There, he covered a major teachers strike and authored a documentary, "Renaissance Beach," on efforts to turn around a long-troubled Seattle high school. Previously, Stokes spent three years in Bloomington, Indiana, helping launch an education reporting collaboration between NPR and member station WFIU. His work for that project, called StateImpact Indiana, earned two National Edward R. Murrow Awards from RTDNA, as well as honors from Public Radio News Directors, Inc., and the Online News Association. Stokes received a BA in journalism from the University of Missouri in 2011.



Ama Nyamekye headshot - Pepperdine UniversityAma Nyamekye
Founding Executive Director at Educators for Excellence, Los Angeles

Ama Nyamekye founded the Los Angeles chapter of Educators 4 Excellence (E4E-LA), an organization committed to elevating teacher voice in policy decisions that affect their students, classrooms, and careers. In five years, the local organization has recruited over 5,000 teachers and trained more than 200 teacher-leaders. Praised by the US.Department of Education, E4E-LA has helped advocate for district, contractual, and legislative education policy changes aimed at elevating teacher voice and student achievement. Nyamekye oversees all operations, programming, external relationships, media, and development. She is an education blogger for Huffington Post and was named one of Education Week's Next-Generation Education Leaders. Prior to launching the Los Angeles chapter of E4E in 2011, Nyamekye taught in the prison and public school systems for five years and saw the clear link between public education and social justice. She founded Rose from Concrete, a program currently operating at The City School in Boston and serving court-involved youth. She also launched Turn the Page, a project that partnered with the Riordan Foundation, Goodwill of Southern California, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to strengthen libraries at 16 California prisons. Nyamekye is a graduate of Emerson College and Columbia University.


David Rattray headshot - Pepperdine UniversityDavid Rattray
Executive Vice President, Center for Education Excellence & Talent Development

David Rattray oversees the Center for Education Excellence & Talent Development at the Chamber and UNITE-LA, the School-to-Career Partnership of Los Angeles. Rattray officially joined the Chamber in 2003, after being a strategic partner for several years. Since 1998, he has led UNITE-LA in building business and educational partnerships toward a goal of improving the academic achievement and enthusiasm for learning for all Los Angeles students. Previously Rattray spent more than 20 years in the food service distribution industry. Rattray served on the Los Angeles City Workforce Investment Board and Youth Council and was vice chair of the State Workforce Investment Board's Lifelong Learning Committee. Rattray earned an MBA from the University of Southern California.


John Rogers headshot - Pepperdine UniversityJohn Rogers
Director, University of California, Los Angeles; Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA)

John Rogers is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles' (UCLA) Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and director of UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA). He also serves as the faculty director of Center X, which houses UCLA's Teacher Education Program, Principal Leadership Program, and professional development initiatives. Rogers studies the role of civic engagement in equity-focused school reform and civic renewal and the relationship between education and different forms of inequality. Rogers is a leading scholar on educational opportunities and youth civic learning outside the classroom. He is the co-author of Learning Power: Organizing for Education and Justice and co-editor of Public Engagement for Public Education: Joining Forces to Revitalize Democracy and Equalize Schools. Rogers received a PhD in education from Stanford University and a BA in public policy and African American studies from Princeton University.


Marshall Tuck headshot - Pepperdine University

Marshall Tuck
Candidate, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Marshall Tuck believes in the power of public schools to change lives--and he's spent the last 15 years working to make it happen. Tuck was most recently an educator-in-residence at the New Teacher Center, a nonprofit organization working with school districts to help develop and retain effective teachers and principals. In 2007, Tuck became the founding chief executive officer of the nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a groundbreaking collaboration between the Mayor's office and Los Angeles Unified School District to operate 17 struggling elementary, middle, and high schools serving 15,000 students. Under Tuck's leadership, these schools raised four-year graduation rates by more than 60 percent, and had the highest academic improvement among California's school systems with more than 10,000 students. Prior to that, Tuck served as president of the nonprofit Green Dot Public Schools, where he helped create ten new public charter high schools in some of Los Angeles' poorest neighborhoods. All of them outperformed local schools--and seven have been ranked among the top high schools in America by U.S. News & World Report. Tuck is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Business School. 


Jed Wallace headshot - Pepperdine University

Jed Wallace
President & Chief Executive Officer, California Charter Schools Association (CCSA)

Jed Wallace serves as the president and chief executive officer of the California Charter Schools Association, a membership organization supporting the state's 1,130 charter schools serving more than 500,000 students. Wallace began his career in public education as a teacher at Hooper Avenue Elementary School, a 2,000-student school in South-Central Los Angeles. Serving there for seven years, he established a successful school-within-the-school that became the basis for an effort to convert Hooper Avenue to charter status. He later worked in the Office of the Superintendent at San Diego City Schools where, among other duties, he was responsible for the oversight of the District's 22 charter schools. Immediately before coming to the association, Wallace served as the chief operating officer of High Tech High, where he oversaw all operational and financial aspects of the organization during a period when High Tech High grew from one school serving 400 students into eight schools serving more than 3,000 students. Wallace received a bachelor's degree in the science of foreign service from Georgetown University, an MFA in playwriting from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

 Panel 2: Moving Toward Collaboration--Sharing Best Practices


Laura Greanias headshot - Pepperdine University

Laura Greanias
Executive Editor, LA School Report

Laura Greanias is executive editor of LA School Report and West Coast bureau chief of The 74. Most recently Greanias was city editor of the Los Angeles Daily News, which she joined after helping the Long Beach Press-Telegram fight off the Orange County Register's expansion into Long Beach--possibly the last print newspaper war. She served 15 years at the Los Angeles Times, where she was executive news editor/deputy front page editor, foreign news editor, and morning assignment editor on the city desk, as well as its first web editor. She has edited more than a dozen fiction and nonfiction books, including Google's first-ever fiction which won the national 2014 Digital Book Award for transmedia. Greanias is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.



Elise Buik headshot - Pepperdine UniversityElise Buik
President and Chief Executive Officer, United Way of Greater Los Angeles

Elise Buik made history by becoming the first female president and chief executive officer of United Way of Greater Los Angeles (UWGLA) in 2005. For nearly a decade, she has been a community leader and spokesperson to advocate for our most vulnerable neighbors: the homeless, veterans, and students. Buik joined UWGLA in 1994, beginning her tenure in the marketing department. She has been instrumental in transforming UWGLA from its historical fundraising role into a community impact organization that identifies social issues, convenes experts, partners with other organizations, and crafts innovative solutions and policy. Under her leadership, UWGLA launched a strategic 10-year action plan called Creating Pathways Out of Poverty to help tackle poverty in Los Angeles County through a comprehensive and collaborative approach tied to measurable results. This plan focuses on the three critical issues driving the social and economic trends in the county: ending homelessness by providing housing stability, improving educational achievement, and helping struggling families, especially veterans, gain financial stability. Prior to joining UWGLA, Buik spent seven years in the private sector as the marketing manager for a medical software company. Buik currently serves on the boards of the Pacific Council, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the USC Price Board of Councilors, USC Public Policy, Cal State Los Angels, LA 2024, and is a member of the Civic Alliance. Additionally, she serves as a commissioner for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, appointed by Mayors Garcetti and Villaragoisa. She also chairs the National Professional Council for United Way of America. 


Alex Caputo-Pearl headshot - Pepperdine UniversityAlex Caputo-Pearl
President, United Teachers of Los Angeles

Alex Caputo-Pearl has been teaaching for 22 years and is currently a teacher at Frida Kahlo High School and has been an elected member of the United Teachers of Los Angeles Board of Directors for the last six years, representing the West Area. Caputo-Pearl has 25 years of experience in labor and community organizing in local, state, and national campaigns. Caputo-Pearl has a history of challenging the Los Angeles Unified School District head-on and winning. In 2005, as Crenshaw High School's union chapter chair he worked with surrounding chapters, parents, community, and youth organizations to oust an entrenched administration. Together they won a pro-active campaign for tens of millions of dollars in new investment in area schools for class size reduction, additional Health and Human Services, and technology for students. Caputo-Peral is a cofounder of the Extended Learning Cultural Model, a nationally-recognized school improvement model that brings educators, unions, parents, community, universities, youth organizations, and national institutes together behind a model that connects in-the-classroom learning to outside-the-classroom internships, community advocacy, and small business development. Caputo-Pearl has experience building organizations from the ground up. He is cofounder of Coalition for Educational Justice, a city-wide organization that has been involved in local, state, and national campaigns. He has been key in building the Crenshaw Cougar Coalition and the Bus Riders Union, which has also led local, state and national campaigns around civil rights and public services. Caputo-Pearl has been a leader in Progressive Educators for Action, which has helped build a national network of educator organizers. Caputo-Pearl received a BA in political science from Brown University and an MA in rrban and regional planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.


Frances Gipson headshot - Pepperdine University

Dr. Frances Gipson
Chief Academic Officer, Los Angeles Unified School District

Dr. Frances Gipson is the chief academic officer for the second largest school district in the nation, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). As a leader of leaders, she oversees the instructional plan and capacity building for more than 600,000 students in preschool through adult school programs. Previously, she was the LAUSD local district east superintendent. Gipson has also served learners as the administrator of instruction in LAUSD Local District 5 (LD5), and former director of professional development & partnerships at UCLA's Center X. Core to the work at UCLA was the design of transformative coaching models and award winning partnerships with the subject matter projects. In LD5 she supported leading for learning in 150 schools in east, southeast, and south Los Angeles. During her tenure at LD5 the district was recognized for student achievement growth models, English learners reclassification, highest district attendance rates, lowest suspension rates, greatest numbers of National Board Certification participants, and even the organizer of the first East LA Arts Festival. A highly regarded educator, she has published and designed quality curriculum at the district, state, national, and international level. With this passion for active learning, she has taught Educational Leadership at California State University, Long Beach; UCLA Teacher Education Program and the Principals Leadership Institute. Gipson's leadership has been formally recognized with the regional Administrator of the Year Award from ACSA, the Tae Han Kim award for humanitarian and cultural accomplishments, CSULA Day of the Educator award for excellence in fieldwork supervision, and the Excellence in Urban Leadership Award from Claremont Graduate University. 


Hattie Mitchell headshot - Pepperdine University

Hattie Mitchell (MPP '12)
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Crete Academy

Hattie Mitchell (MPP '12) is an educational entrepreneur and the founder of Crete Academy. In her role as principal of Crete, a nonprofit, charter school, she serves children in South Los Angeles who are experiencing homelessness and living in poverty. Through an integrated school model, which she developed, she and her team support 127 students in grades TK-6 by providing resources and services that meet students' academic and basic needs. Prior to founding Crete, Mitchell worked for a national charter management organization expanding their portfolio of charters around the country. During her tenure as an educator, Mitchell served as a second and fifth grade teacher, dean of students, and worked at both the state and federal levels on education policy initiatives. As the chief of staff for student programs at the Louisiana Department of Education, Mitchell led the state's Race to the Top program. She also managed over one billion dollars in federal grant funds, including IDEA, Title I, Title III, and McKenny-Vento. In her federal role, she worked for President Obama, as an education intern and led the first White House Conference on Bullying Prevention. She also developed the president's talking points for the education portion of the State of the Union Address in 2011. Mitchell holds a bachelor's degree in urban learning and a Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential from California State University, Los Angeles, a master of public policy from Pepperdine University, and a doctorate degree in educational leadership from the Univeristy of Southern California.


Ryan Smith headshot - Pepperdine University

Ryan J. Smith
Executive Director, The Education Trust-West

Ryan J. Smith is the executive director of The Education Trust–West, a research, policy, and advocacy organization focused on educational justice and the high academic achievement of all California students, particularly those of color and living in poverty. Under Smith's leadership, the organization continues to expand its work with a specific focus on producing actionable, accessible research and advocacy tools – most notably publishing Black Minds Matter: Supporting the Educational Success of Black Children in California and Hear My Voice: Strengthening the College Pipeline for California's Young Men of Color. He's also responsible for the launch of a Southern California Community Data and Research Hub in the Inland Empire. Prior to his work with Ed Trust–West, Smith directed Education Programs and Policy for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, where he launched Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS), a Los Angeles-based coalition of civil rights, education and community advocacy groups. Smith also led family and community engagement for former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, where he formed the "Parent College," a parent empowerment program that has to date trained over 5,000 parents on the "parent three R's" – their rights, roles, and responsibilities. A past Annie E. Casey Children and Family Fellow, Smith started his career at the age fifteen as a youth organizer focused on educational justice in South Los Angeles with Youth United for Community Action. A University of California Los Angeles graduate, Smith has authored dozens of editorials and opinion pieces published in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sacramento Bee, Education Week, U.S. News and World Report, among others.