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November 17, 2020

COVID-19 led to school closings across the country in March. Here we are, months later, with more chaos and uncertainty, and a variety of modes of learning from which parents and students must choose: all remote, all in-person and hybrid. Which parents are choosing to keep their children home? Who is sending their children back? What do family income and race have to do with the decisions? Can the gap between the privileged and the disadvantaged get any greater? What can we do to make positive impact as a nation? As individuals?

On November 17th, 2020, Moderator Rick Melvoin '73, Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and former head of Belmont Hill School in Massachusetts, lead a panel of individuals uniquely positioned to observe and affect the future: John B. King, Jr. ‘96, President and CEO of The Education Trust, Harvard Overseer and former U.S. Secretary of Education in the Obama Administration; Nick Melvoin ’08, Board Member of the L.A. Unified School District; and Angela McEwen Sims, Principal of the Lenart Elementary Regional Gifted Center (Chicago)


We have created 10 videos from this forum--one of the whole event, and 9 others, divided by topic. They are all available by clicking on the image of the YouTube video screen below. Then, you can either click "play all" on the left side of your screen and the videos will play in succession, or pick and choose which videos you want to watch, all of which are listed on the right.



Rick Melvoin graduated from Harvard in 1973 magna cum laude with a Special Concentration in American Education, and he earned his PhD. in history from the University of Michigan. His career in education has focused largely on independent schools, where he was a teacher, administrator and, for 25 years, head of Belmont Hill School in Massachusetts. Over those years he served as board president of The Headmasters Association and the International Boys Schools Coalition. His service to Harvard has included both paid and volunteer positions. He served as Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid for Harvard College for five years and a Lecturer in History and Literature. Currently he is a Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Active with his class, he is the longtime co-editor of the Class Report. He was elected a member of Harvard’s Board of Overseers in 2002.



John B. King Jr. is the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and close educational opportunity and achievement gaps. King served as U.S. Secretary of Education in the Obama administration. Prior to that role, King carried out the duties of Deputy Secretary, overseeing policies and programs related to P-12 education, English learners, special education, innovation, and agency operations. King joined the department following his post as New York State Education Commissioner. King began his career as a high school social studies teacher and middle school principal.


Advocate for resources for schools, as well as for the investment we need in the social safety net so kids can have food and shelter. 

  • The moratorium placed on evictions by the CARES Act ends on December 31st. Search here for organizations fighting youth homelessness across America.
  • Here's how you can help food insecure children.



Nick Melvoin is proud to serve the dynamic communities of District 4 on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Nick’s work is focused on increasing parent and community engagement, transparency and accountability; directing more resources to schools; protecting our most vulnerable students; and bringing a new spirit of partnership and collaboration to LA’s public schools. He chairs the district's "Continuous Improvement Data Committee," as well as serving on committees related to legislative advocacy, early education, affiliated charter schools, and school safety. Prior to his election, Nick worked as a teacher, public interest attorney, nonprofit director, and an active board member of a number of community and political organizations. Nick has also worked in the Obama White House and the US Attorney’s office. Nick is a graduate of Harvard College, NYU School of Law (Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar), and Loyola Marymount University’s School of Education. He was the 2018 recipient of the Los Angeles Young Democrat of the Year Award.


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Angela Sims is a proud graduate of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and has worked for CPS as a teacher and administrator for over 15 years. She is the principal of Ted Lenart Regional Gifted Center, a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School. She believes that a school should not only challenge students academically, but also meet their social and emotional needs so that they can make critical decisions as they progress through college and into careers. At Lenart, students are taught that great leaders are not only smart, but are also caring and empathetic.

Despite being a good student, Angela did not like school and often felt unchallenged and disinterested. Angela’s main goal as an educator is to create a different learning experience than her own that is both challenging and relevant to her students’ lives. She is a teacher at heart and loves to discuss pedagogy and instruction.

Angela received her Bachelor’s degree from Spelman College, and Master’s degrees in teaching and school administration from National Louis University. She is currently a student of the University of Pennsylvania’s Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. Her research interests include critical race theory and high ability learners of color.


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    ClassACT HR ‘73

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