This Changes Everything
Ep. 6 - Learning About Learning (Season 3)

Ep. 6 - Learning About Learning (Season 3)

March 22, 2022

For some families, the shutdowns provided an opportunity to understand how to become better advocates for their kids.

Of all the educational challenges created by the pandemic, none is likely as great as the requirement that public schools continue to provide “free and appropriate” education for students with special needs. 

For many students and families involved in special education, the shutdowns were a nightmare. So many crucial learning accommodations seemed to vanish overnight. Local and national media decried the many failures, lawsuits were filed, and state investigations into districts, including Seattle Public Schools, found violations of the federal law that requires public schools to serve these students.

Many of these students continue to face considerable challenges. But for some students and parents served by special education, the shutdowns provided a kind of silver lining: the opportunity to better understand how their kids learn and become better advocates for them.

For this, the final episode of this season of This Changes Everything, host Sara Bernard speaks with some of these parents about what they’ve learned about their children in these difficult days and how it has actually made their experience with education better.

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Credits

Host/Producer: Sara Bernard

Reporters: Venice Buhain, Claudia Rowe

Editorial assistant: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers

Consulting editor: Donna Blankinship

Executive producer/story editor: Mark Baumgarten

Audio support: Jonah Cohen

Ep. 5 - The Roots of Hope (Season 3)

Ep. 5 - The Roots of Hope (Season 3)

March 22, 2022

In the midst of the pandemic and in the wake of 2020 protests against racism, one group of students in Washington state pressed for real change … and achieved it.

When the protests spurred by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police spilled into the streets of American cities, the initial focus was on policing. But in the weeks and months that followed, a reckoning with racist practices took hold in almost all aspects of American culture. Education was on the list. 

In Washington state, a number of teachers had already been committing a portion of their careers toward equity in education. But the protests, combined with the inequities highlighted by the pandemic, inspired a new generation of students to get involved and to push for change.

With the guidance of educators, these Washington students formed a youth-led group called The Root of Our Youth. They created a support network for students of color, organized teach-ins where their teachers became the students and lobbied for legislation to improve their education. 

For this episode of This Changes Everything, host Sara Bernard talks with the students and the adults who have helped them about the ways the pandemic changed them, the aims of their new movement and why they feel young people need to be at the table for decisions about education.

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Credits

Host/Producer: Sara Bernard

Reporters: Venice Buhain, Claudia Rowe

Editorial assistant: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers

Consulting editor: Donna Blankinship

Executive producer/story editor: Mark Baumgarten

Audio support: Jonah Cohen

Ep. 4 - ’I Wasn’t Safe Before’ (Season 3)

Ep. 4 - ’I Wasn’t Safe Before’ (Season 3)

March 22, 2022

For some students and educators, the school shutdowns offered a break from the racism they typically experienced at school.

When the pandemic hit and schools shut down, a broad spectrum of emotions followed. There was uncertainty and dread, along with a kind of naive giddiness that accompanies the potential of an unplanned, extended spring break. And then, according to a number of the students of color interviewed for this season of This Changes Everything, there was a sense of relief. 

The relief, they said, came with the realization that they wouldn’t be subject to the microaggressions and macroaggressions that make day-to-day school a harrowing experience for students who are not white. 

Racism in American schools is not new, but this forced departure from the physical classroom was. It shifted perspectives, revealed difficult truths and catalyzed some people to make major changes. The number of Black families who home-school their children, for instance, rose fivefold in the first year of the pandemic and, at 16%, is five points higher than the overall average of home-schooled students at the time.

For this episode, the first of two episodes focused on race, host Sara Bernard speaks with one mother who is considering pulling her daughters out of school and finds that there is a whole lot more going on than COVID-19.

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Credits

Host/Producer: Sara Bernard

Reporters: Venice Buhain, Claudia Rowe

Editorial assistant: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers

Consulting editor: Donna Blankinship

Executive producer/story editor: Mark Baumgarten

Audio support: Jonah Cohen

Ep. 3 - Online Learning is Here to Stay (Season 3)

Ep. 3 - Online Learning is Here to Stay (Season 3)

March 22, 2022

Having remote classes in the early part of the pandemic was difficult. But for some teachers, it has been a revelation.

Consensus in education is difficult to come by, and the pandemic certainly has not changed that. But one thing that most everyone seems to agree on is this: Online learning was terrible. 

As schools moved to remote education, most everything was thrown online as quickly as possible. It was a crisis and, given the public health restrictions, there weren’t any other options. And, as later research showed, there were costs. There have been so-called “learning loss” and mental health impacts, and, ultimately, the research says online school simply didn’t work for most kids, especially in the younger grades.

But that’s not the case with every child. Some students did fine, or did better, online. Even after schools reopened, many school districts and states continued to experiment with remote and hybrid learning. And some families have chosen, at least for now, to keep their kids online. A lot of that has to do with ongoing concerns around COVID-19, of course, but there are other reasons, which we explore throughout this season of This Changes Everything.  

For this episode, host Sara Bernard speaks with two teachers who have found success in the remote-learning era and consider the radical, transformative impact that this period of forced remote learning could have on our education system and our communities.

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Credits

Host/Producer: Sara Bernard

Reporters: Venice Buhain, Claudia Rowe

Editorial assistant: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers

Consulting editor: Donna Blankinship

Executive producer/story editor: Mark Baumgarten

Audio support: Jonah Cohen

Ep. 2 - The Kids Are Not All Right (Season 3)

Ep. 2 - The Kids Are Not All Right (Season 3)

March 22, 2022

Rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and behavioral crises have risen during the pandemic. Are schools equipped for the needs they now face?

Even before the pandemic, the mental health of young people was a growing concern. By 2018, for instance, suicide had become the second leading cause of death among people age 10 to 24. And in 2019, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three high school students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

The pandemic only made things worse. According to a recent U.S. Surgeon General report, depression and anxiety symptoms have doubled among youth across the world. Emergency room visits in the U.S. for suspected suicide attempts among adolescent girls are up more than 50%. And there is a documented spike in suicides among children of color.

That mental health strain appears to be manifesting at school in a number of ways. Reports of behavioral issues and violence are rising, student achievement and attendance are flagging and the demand for professional help is overwhelming the systems set up to care for young people. Meanwhile, the adults tasked with providing support to students at school — the guidance counselors and teachers — are struggling, too.

For this episode of This Changes Everything, we talk with educators and professionals about what the pandemic is doing to the mental health of our students and teachers, what is being done to address the need and whether it’s enough. 

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Mental health resources

If you or someone you know needs support for mental health, here’s where to find help.

Crisis Connections: Covers King County and surrounding areas with five programs focused on serving the emotional and physical needs of people across Washington state. Call 866-427-4747.

Washington 211: Free referral and informational help line that connects people to health and human services, available 24/7. Call 211.

Washington Recovery Helpline: 24-hour crisis intervention and referral assistance for substance abuse, mental health and gambling. Call 866-789-1511.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: National network of local crisis centers that provide free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 800-273-8255.

National Alliance on Mental Illness: The nation’s largest grassroots mental-health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

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Credits

Host/Producer: Sara Bernard

Reporters: Venice Buhain, Claudia Rowe

Editorial assistant: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers

Consulting editor: Donna Blankinship

Executive producer/story editor: Mark Baumgarten

Audio support: Jonah Cohen

Ep. 1 - Grace (Season 3)

Ep. 1 - Grace (Season 3)

March 22, 2022

Early in the pandemic, many educators gave student well-being priority over academic performance. Some never stopped.

When schools shut down early in the COVID-19 pandemic, it was unprecedented. The vast majority of teachers had never done school outside the school building before. The vast majority of students hadn’t, either. And no one knew from day to day how long the shutdown would last. Cases were on the rise and lots of parents were losing their jobs.

It was a collective trauma that affected students and teachers alike. And because schools were in survival mode, and everyone was going through it, standard operating procedure went out the door. Standards and rules were replaced by flexibility and emotional awareness and an approach anchored in the idea of grace. Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal took a “do no harm” approach and introduced a no-fail policy. 

As schools reopened in 2021 in many places, the traditional measures of success were reintroduced. The results were troubling, with many students falling behind or even disappearing from the public education system entirely.  

For this episode of This Changes Everything, host Sara Bernard speaks with a number of teachers who believe the solution to flagging student achievement is a continuation of the practices adopted early in the pandemic. If they prioritize student happiness, well-being, and a sense of belonging at school, they say, the rest will follow.

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Credits

Host/Producer: Sara Bernard

Reporters: Venice Buhain, Claudia Rowe

Editorial assistant: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers

Consulting editor: Donna Blankinship

Executive producer/story editor: Mark Baumgarten

Audio support: Jonah Cohen

Season 3 Coming March 23

Season 3 Coming March 23

March 10, 2022

The third season of Crosscut’s podcast on our new normal explores what the pandemic has taught us about public schools — and where we might go from here.

As we navigate the third consecutive school year impacted by COVID-19, some teachers, students and families see this tumultuous moment as more than a challenge. It’s also an opportunity. Yes, school shutdowns across Washington state and the nation forced millions of children to attend school online for the first time, resulting in all kinds of chaos, frustration, mental health struggles, academic learning loss and even a dip in public school enrollment. But there are things we’ve learned from this experience, too including, in some cases, a fresh perspective on deep, systemic issues that have been plaguing education since long before the virus. As many schools return to physical classrooms and manage a bumpy “return to normal,” we ask: Is “normal” even possible? And is that even our goal: To return to the old approach to public education? Host Sara Bernard talks to teachers, parents, students and administrators in search of answers.

Look for new episodes wherever you listen on Wednesday, March 23.

Introducing the Mossback podcast!

Introducing the Mossback podcast!

January 12, 2022

This week we have a special preview of Mossback, a companion podcast to the popular Mossback’s Northwest video series that airs on KCTS 9. The Mossback podcast digs deeper into the topics that fans want to know more about from the current season of Mossback’s Northwest.

Hosted by Sara Bernard, each episode of this series will feature an interview with Mossback, Knute Berger, about one episode of the video series. The podcasts will provide stories and factoids that were left on the cutting room floor, along with critical analysis from Berger and a greater context that will stitch each topic into the long, storied history of the Pacific Northwest.

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Credits

Hosts: Sara BernardKnute Berger

Editorial assistance: Mason Bryan

Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten

Ep. 6 - When Defunding the Police Meets Political Reality (Season 2)

Ep. 6 - When Defunding the Police Meets Political Reality (Season 2)

January 28, 2021

More than 6 months after first pledging to rethink public safety, city leaders face opposition. What’s next?

As anti-racism protesters filled city streets this past summer with calls for a radical rethinking of public safety, a majority of Seattle City Council members responded by committing to cut the city's police budget by 50%. But making good on that promise has been difficult.

In this, the final episode of This Changes Everything’s focus on efforts to defund the police, Sara Bernard and David Kroman discuss the political pain and potential ramifications that have come since the council members committed to those cuts.

So far, the council has made cuts to the city police budget amounting to nearly 20%. Will they make those additional cuts? Will oppositional forces prevent them from doing so? What comes next? One thing about the future is known: The hard work of reforming the police force is still to come.

This six-part podcast. produced by Bernard and reported by Kroman, takes a close look at challenges of policing today and whether it’s possible to downsize the police force and create a new public safety regime that is more equitable and safe.

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Credits

Host, producer: Sara Bernard

Reporter: David Kroman

Story editor: Donna Gordon Blankinship

Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten

Read the full transcript here.

Ep. 5 - Defund, Then What? Activist Ideas for Police Dollars (Season 2)

Ep. 5 - Defund, Then What? Activist Ideas for Police Dollars (Season 2)

January 28, 2021

Many activists leading the call to defund the police say the answer to disproportionate policing is to take money from the cops and give it to communities. But change is never as easy as writing new lines in a city budget.

In this episode of This Changes Everything’s look at efforts to defund the police, Sara Bernard and David Kroman examine emerging community programs that are seeking to take the place of police as a way to dismantle the systemic racism that has long been part of the American criminal justice system.

These Seattle programs look to keep members of the city’s Black and brown communities, in particular, out of the criminal justice system by redirecting at-risk community members with various forms of support.

This six-part podcast, produced by Bernard and reported by Kroman, takes a close look at challenges of policing today and whether it’s possible to downsize the police force and create a new public safety regime that is more equitable and safe.

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Credits

Host, producer: Sara Bernard

Reporter: David Kroman

Story editor: Donna Gordon Blankinship

Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten

Read the full transcript here