Understanding education equity - and achieving it

Hosted by EdSource and The Education Trust—West and recorded March 21, 2018, this video conference looks at how to define education equity and what California schools and districts can do to close achievement and opportunity gaps for their students.

The discussion was moderated by Louis Freedberg, executive director of EdSource and Ryan J. Smith, executive director of The Education Trust—West. It featured a panel of education experts and practitioners with deep engagement and experience in furthering equity in California.


Louis Freedberg

Panel Moderator; Executive Director, EdSource

Louis joined EdSource as executive director in July 2011. For more than two decades, Freedberg has analyzed and reported on local, state, and national education policy issues. Before coming to EdSource, Freedberg was the founding director and senior education reporter at California Watch, a pioneering nonprofit journalism venture.

He was also a founder of the California Media Collaborative, based at the Commonwealth Club of California. Prior to that, he spent more than a decade at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was an award-winning education reporter, Washington correspondent, columnist, and member of the editorial board.

He has served as an executive director of several nonprofit organizations, including Youth News in Oakland. He also directed youth programs at Pacific News Service/New America Media. A South African by birth, he founded and directed the Institute for a New South Africa. Freedberg has been a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, a Visiting Fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington D.C., and a Fellow at the Institute for Justice and Journalism at the University of Southern California. He has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in developmental psychology from Yale University.

Ryan Smith

Co-moderator; Executive Director, Education Trust-West

Ryan J. Smith is currently the Executive Director of The Education Trust–West, a research 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 Ryan’s leadership, the organization continues to expand its work with a specific focus on producing actionable, accessible research and advocacy tools that reach state policymakers and on-the-ground community advocates and education leaders alike.

Prior to joining The Education Trust–West, Ryan was the Director of Education Programs and Policy for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles where he was responsible for the education program and policy efforts for the organization. He also worked for former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.

A previous Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Family Fellow, Ryan holds a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA. Ryan has authored more than a dozen editorials and opinion pieces published in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sacramento Bee, Education Week, US News and World Report, and others. He was named by Education Week as one of the “Ten Education Leaders to Watch” nationally and also received the Families in Schools’ “Parent Engagement Leader of the Year Award”.

Jorge A. Aguilar

Superintendent, Sacramento City Unified School District

Superintendent Aguilar has more than twenty years of K-12 and higher education experience with a strong focus and background on issues of equity and student achievement. Prior to his appointment, he served as Associate Superintendent for Equity and Access at Fresno Unified School District and Associate Vice Chancellor for Educational and Community Partnerships and Special Assistant to the Chancellor at the University of California, Merced.

Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez

Vice President, California School Boards Association

Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez is the recently elected vice president of the California School Boards Association and board member, Azusa Unified School District since 2001. Cruz-Gonzalez currently works at Californians Together to provide tools and resources to educators to foster a safe and inclusive learning environment for immigrant and refugee students. She is also past president of the California Latino School Boards Association, a statewide nonprofit focused on serving the needs of Latino students.

Prof. Tyrone C. Howard

Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA

Prof. Tyrone C. Howard of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, is also the associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion, and director and founder of the Black Male Institute at UCLA. Professor Howard’s research examines culture, race, teaching, and learning. In 2017, he was listed by Education Week as one of the 50 most influential scholars in the nation informing educational policy, practice, and reform.

Aurea Montes-Rodriguez

Executive Vice President, Community Coalition

Aurea Montes-Rodriguez is executive vice president of Community Coalition, a social justice nonprofit based in South Los Angeles that serves as a vehicle for everyday residents to tackle the most pressing community issues. She is also a co-founder of Partners for Children South LA, a multiagency initiative that seeks to improve children’s development and reduce the risk of involvement with the child welfare system.

Prof. Andrea Venezia

Executive Director, EdInsights

Prof. Andrea Venezia, executive director of the Education Insights Center (EdInsights) at California State University, Sacramento. Her work focuses on improving student readiness for, and success in postsecondary education, particularly for students who are traditionally underserved. She also runs the CSU Student Success Network and co-runs the California Education Policy Fellowship Program.