To the Extent Feasible: Strategies for success with distance learning

In a March 13 executive order on school closures, Gov. Gavin Newsom stated that school districts and charter schools should continue to deliver “high-quality educational opportunities to the extent feasible.”

But what does “high quality” mean? What does “feasible” involve? What should parents expect from their schools and their teachers? And what strategies might be most effective for high-quality learning? Under local control, school districts have been largely left on their own to determine how to proceed.

For answers, we turned to researchers from the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington Bothell who have been tracking how 100 school districts and charter school organizations nationwide transitioned to distance learning. Analysts Bree Dusseault, Lanya McKittrick and Steven Wilson from the center share their most recent findings on how districts and charters have set effective teaching and learning expectations, defined staff roles and responsibilities and handled policies for grading, taking attendance and providing supports for students with special needs.

Click here to view the CRPE team’s slide presentation for this webinar.

For a California and classroom perspective, we looked to Pasadena Unified high school history teacher Manuel Rustin and Los Angeles school leadership director Jeffrey Garrett, co-hosts of the YouTube show, All of the Above: The Unstandardized Show About Education.

(Please scroll down for more information on our speakers.)


The resources and materials below have been shared by our panelists and relate to the webinar discussion.

Resources from the Center on Reinventing Public Education:

  • Slide presentation from this webinar
  • The detailed CRPE database of schools can be found here
  • Many participants asked about a Sacramento Unified professional development program mentioned during the webinar. Learn more here
  • More about Impact Public Schools used as an example of elementary school social and emotional learning can be found here

Special education:

Resources from Manuel Rustin and Jeffrey Garrett: 


Bree Dusseault

Practitioner-in-residence at the Center on Reinventing Public Education

Bree Dusseault is practitioner-in-residence at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, supporting its analysis of district and charter responses to COVID-19. Dusseault previously served as executive director of Green Dot Public Schools Washington, executive director of pK-12 Schools for Seattle Public Schools, researcher at CRPE, and was a principal and teacher. She serves on the boards of Teach For America Washington and City Year South King County and is a Pahara-Aspen fellow. She earned her BA in economics from Dartmouth College and a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Jeffrey Garrett

Senior Director of Leadership Development at the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools

Jeffrey Garrett is the Senior Director of Leadership Development at the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a non profit, in district partner with LAUSD, which supports school transformation in three of LA’s most historically underserved communities. In this role he supports principals, assistant principals, teacher leaders and instructional leadership teams across the Partnership’s 18 schools.

Garrett spent most of his career in urban education working in New York City, most recently as principal of a public secondary school serving grades 6-12 in the South Bronx.  He has also served as an AP, instructional leadership coach, and a high school social studies teacher in East Harlem and the Bronx.  He began his career as a college admissions officer at his alma mater Dartmouth College, and earned his masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  Through his  consulting practice, JM Garrett Learning Group, LLC, Garrett provides coaching and support for school leaders, schools, and districts across the country.

He is co-host of the YouTube show, All of the Above: The Unstandardized Show About Education.

Lanya McKittrick

Research analyst at the Center on Reinventing Public Education

Lanya McKittrick is a research analyst at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, where she works on projects related to special education and families. McKittrick completed her PhD in Special Education at the University of Northern Colorado, where she continues to teach an undergraduate course on collaboration in special education. Her primary research interest is family-school partnerships. Prior to becoming a research analyst, McKittrick was the Director of Operations at CRPE. She has also held multiple positions in administration at the University of Washington. Lane has an MA in Organizational Leadership at Gonzaga University and a BA in Economics at the University of Washington.

Manuel Rustin

High school history teacher

Dr. Manuel Rustin is a high school history teacher enjoying his sixteenth year in the classroom. He currently teaches United States History, American Government, Economics, and a Hip Hop Studies social science elective. In addition to teaching, Dr. Rustin serves as Chair of the History-Social Science Subject Matter Committee on the California Department of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission, a body that directly advises the State Board of Education on matters pertaining to curricular frameworks and resources.

Dr. Rustin is a recipient of the Milken Educator Award as well as the Pasadena NAACP Ruby McKnight Educator Award. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership at UCLA and received his master’s in teaching and curriculum at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

He is co-host of the YouTube show, All of the Above: The Unstandardized Show About Education.

Steven Wilson

Senior Fellow with the Center on Reinventing Public Education

Steven Wilson is a Senior Fellow with the Center on Reinventing Public Education. For three decades, Wilson has sought to spark change in urban public education — offering fresh ideas in his writing and research, shaping legislative change, and opening new schools that prove what’s possible. Wilson founded and built Ascend Learning, a growing network of tuition-free, liberal arts charter schools that today educates 5,500 students in Central Brooklyn. Ascend demonstrated the power of a warm and joyful school culture focused not on ensuring compliance but on fostering student agency — and not only closed but reversed achievement gaps.

His first book, Reinventing the Schools: A Radical Plan for Boston, drove the development and passage of the Massachusetts charter school law. Learning on the Job: When Business Takes on Public Schools, won the Virginia and Warren Stone prize for an outstanding book on education and society. Wilson is a Pahara-Aspen fellow and a graduate of Harvard University.

John Fensterwald

Panel Moderator; Editor-At-Large, EdSource

John Fensterwald joined EdSource in 2012. Before joining EdSource he was editor and co-writer for the “The Educated Guess” website, a leading source of California education policy reporting and opinion, sponsored by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, which he founded in 2009. For 11 years before that, John wrote editorials for the Mercury News in San Jose, with a focus on education.

He worked as a reporter, news editor and opinion editor for three newspapers in New Hampshire for two decades before receiving a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 1997 and heading West shortly thereafter.