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On Tuesday, November 17, Axios' Sara Kehaulani Goo, Erica Pandey, and Courtenay Brown hosted a conversation on unequal opportunity and systemic racism in schools, featuring Northern California Indian Development Council Indigenous Education Advocate Rain Marshall, National Education Association President Becky Pringle and EdBuild CEO Rebecca Sibilia.

Becky Pringle discussed racial inequity in the education system, highlighting a lack of funding and accessible resources for students of color, as well as the need for congressional action around students' access to virtual education.

  • On the stark challenges of digital access: "60 million students did not have access to virtual learning in the spring...It is now November and those students still do not have that access. We are working with our educators and with communities, with our families or our partners to demand that the Senate act."

Rebecca Sibilia unpacked how school district lines can reinforce existing racial and economic divides, and discussed the possibility of making school districts larger to better distribute resources to students.

  • On growing wealth inequality and its impact on education: "[The] school district line becomes incredibly important in determining which students go to which schools and how well resourced they are. Because we fund schools primarily based on property taxes, the state tries to equalize for differences in the fundamental wealth of communities, but they just can't keep up."

Rain Marshall discussed the legacies of colonization on Indigenous students and the impact of those narrative being left out of school curricula.

  • On the classroom experience of Indigenous students: "You have a curriculum that doesn't reflect the population of Indigenous students...You have these leftover legacies in the school system and implicit bias where teachers just aren't aware that [this] erasure is harmful."

Axios' VP of Events Kristin Burkhalter hosted a View from the Top segment with President of Paul Quinn College Dr. Michael Sorrell and discussed the impact of poverty on students, and how to rethink the American education system.

  • On increasing accessibility to higher education: "People need are easier on and off ramps into higher education...The idea that what you study when you're 20, 21, 22 years old is going to be with you for the rest of your life and you won't need to make adjustments is just not realistic."

This event was the second in a yearlong series called Hard Truths, where we'll be discussing the wide ranging impact of systemic racism in America. Read our deep dive on race and education here and check out the series page here.

Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

The next steps in Bank of America's $1 billion pledge to fight inequality

Photo: Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Earlier this year, Bank of America committed to spending $1 billion over four years to address racial and income inequality in America, as a reckoning over systemic racism and police brutality took hold of the country. It said in September it would set aside $25 million of that initial sum for jobs initiatives in Black and Hispanic/Latino communities.

Driving the news: Now, we know the bank is giving $1 million to each of 21 colleges and universities with large populations of Black and Latino students: HBCU Morgan State University, St. Louis Community College and the University of Puerto Rico's Río Piedras campus — to name a few.

Updated Nov 20, 2020 - Axios Events

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Axios hosted a conversation on the future of STEM education, featuring actor Miranda Cosgrove, Girls Who Code CEO Reshma Saujani and Lyda Hill Philanthropies CEO Nicole Small.

Biden transition names first Cabinet nominees

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday unveiled his nominations for top national security positions in his administration, tapping former secretary of state John Kerry as his climate czar and former deputy national security adviser Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.

Why it matters: Haines, if confirmed, would make history as the first woman to oversee the U.S. intelligence community. Biden also plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to become the first Latino secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.