MPW Summit 2020: The Kids Are Not Alright
Ebony Beckwith, Chief Executive Officer, Salesforce Foundation; Chief Philanthropy Officer, Salesforce Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO, Girls Who Code Avni Shah, Vice President, Education, Google Moderator: Michal Lev-Ram, Fortune
All right, So we're moving on now to a topic that is near and dear to my heart. You may have noticed just a little earlier when I was introducing Alan Coleman that I was looking down totally unaware that I was on screen. And that is because I kid you not. I was getting text messages from my nine year old freaking out, but she can't find her recorder for virtual music class. Um and that is torture us on many, many levels for those of you who have Children who play the recorder. So moving along, Um this is going to be about education. The pandemic has upended K through 12 schools in unprecedented ways, forcing the shift to virtual learning whether we like it or not and presenting a challenge for educators, parents, and employers and highlighting societal inequities. But it's also presented some opportunities. So joining me now to delve into the ways that we can simultaneously simultaneously support our employees are teens. While also seizing upon some of these opportunities. We've got Ebony back with Salesforce, fresh message johnny of girls who code and Dabney shaw of google's education business. Welcome ladies. Um Oh good, this is wrong. So um we are going to talk about education, we're going to talk about solutions or possible solutions, I promise, but I want to start out by commiserating a little bit as as I did in my in my opening their um I've got three young Children and uh part of our M. P. W. Survey which you heard about a little bit earlier, um We we found out that 47% of U. And R. M. T. W. Community have Children under the age of 18. Um So I know that there's a large contingency here that's in the same camp on top of that. We also know that this is something that is impacting um employers across the board in terms of productivity and viability and all sorts of ways. Um and and and obviously it's an economic issue, it's not just an education or childcare issue, right? So I want to hear from each one of you um what has been hardest about this for you and if you want to share a story or just something a little bit higher level and it can be as a, as a parent or not, it can also be just something that's personal ebony. Can we start with you? Well, the story that comes to my mind, you know, This is sort of come to mind quite immediately is just right before this session actually, I had to put my 17 week old puppy um in a different room. My mom was supposed to come over to affect it, but she wasn't able to make it due to a lot of traffic on the bridge. So I, while I don't have any Children, um I definitely, I just feel, just, my heart goes out to the parents who have to do this on a daily basis right and balance the needs of the household with work. It's not easy. Absolutely. I think, I think I speak for everyone might say, you know, we all are dealing with this in different ways, whomever we're taking care of and just take care of ourselves right now. Um Rushmore, let's go over to you. I want to hear how the pandemic has personally impacted you. Um you know, you you are self proclaimed recovering perfectionist. This is not the time for perfectionism. No, it's not. I mean, you would think that perfectionism would die in the pandemic, but it is alive and well. Look, you know, when Covid happened, my son was born I had a baby via surrogate. And so I feel blessed that I was able to be there for his birth in Kansas and bring him back to new york city. But I was supposed to be on a journey and it quickly became clear in March, um that this crisis wasn't going anywhere and at girls who code, you know, we host summer programs are inside technology companies That we found shot. We hoped after school clubs, 10,000 of them in schools closed and we had about 200 coupes on college campuses that were closed down with no end in sight. And so we had organization because we have a deep commitment to our girls have to quickly think about what are we going to do? Are we going to wait to see what could happen or are we going to pivot and develop a virtual programming models so that we make sure that our girls are not left behind and all the games that we've made over the past eight years, we don't lose. And so we quickly had to develop a two week virtual program that replaced are some are summer immersion program, which was again inside tech technology companies. And we talked 5000 volts, half of which were under the poverty line. And halfway were black and latin X. Uh, and we designed a program for them because we knew that many of our students didn't have computers at home or accessing wifi and burger king parking lot and had just spent the past full year barely logging on because they didn't have high speed internet. And so we designed a synchronous makes congress program that spoke to our most underserved girls. And I'm proud to say that, you know, we succeeded and we are continuing to develop into innovate, but it's not costing as a ceo of a five year old son. So I find myself doing laundry in between meetings, you know, making some fresh your egg and constantly getting interrupted because you know, uh, transformers on netflix isn't working and so it's chaotic. I'm sure nobody's laughing. But she knows me pretty well. And you know, I'm a woman who plans by schedule eight months in advance and I don't even know what I'm doing because I haven't gotten my school schedule yet from my public school. So it's challenging. It's hard, it's exhausting, but I don't believe a choice. And so I think we're making the best out of a really tough situation. Okay, we'll dig in a little bit more on on what you're doing at girls who code to pivot here as me over to you. You want to share what's been hard for you and all of this? Yeah. Beehives, you're saying like it kind of everything kind of turned upside down. I think within the 1st 48 hours my husband and I were both sent home from work. I have a five year old, an eight year old also sent home from school If we find out, hey today is going to be their last day, congratulations. Um, and so figuring out how to do the whole work from home and learn from home teething, you know, together a family and then At the same time at work, um I lied as which are Google for Education team and the usage of our tools was skyrocketing. We went from 50 million users on Google classroom. For those of you who aren't familiar classroom, it's a tool that allows users to create 10 received assignments and connect with their students. Um we went for 50 million users, 200 million users in a course. And so as a team, we were just really trying to rally and trying to figure out how do we actually need the moment we have time for new users coming online will need to our tools, how do we help support them at the same time as a leader? You know, my entire team, just like I was our whole personal lives got turned upside down. So how do you keep that connection with them? Have rally the team also make sure that they're taking care of themselves? Um I really appreciate it in a really big emphasis on that and google as well. Just how do you balance all of those things in a way that makes sense. So, you know, the last six months have definitely been interesting uh to say the least, but uh but also, you know, kind of uh exciting and you know, in their own way. Mhm. Thank you, thank you all for sharing that. Um There are so many different concerns here, and as I mentioned at the top for employers, parents, teachers, Children, obviously uh I wanna I wanna hear Ebony from you a bit about just some context here. Um kind of set the scene for us, there was obviously inequities existed um in the education system to begin with. And I want to make you a bit about what has been exposed even more so, um if you could tackle that for us, that would be great just to set some context. Absolutely. You know, Covid has revealed so many deep inequities across our education system and I think it's it's forcing us to rethink what equal access to learning really means. For example, we can encourage computer science classes if students aren't even able to have a laptop at home. And I believe that for students who are already at risk of being left behind Covid, it's unjust, truly devastating for them without devices or internet access or guaranteed meals, even just things as simple as that. In some cases, even adult support at home, it's nearly impossible for kids to continue learning. And I think that these inequities really threatened to widen the achievement gap that already exists and that's going to determine the rest of these kids lives. And I think as leaders, we really need to be narrowly focused on this right now. We know from our experience in Salesforce, working with school district serving diverse populations that there isn't a one size fits all solution. We have to take an individualized approach to ensure that all students are receiving the right support and that they're on the path to success. And I think, you know, with covid, this is just revealed so much and then the pentagon that covid the racial qualities all of that combined together make this issue so much more important now. So what's the, what's the silver lining? I mean, I obviously increased awareness. Hopefully one would hope lead to some action rational. What are you guys doing? What are you doing personally? I girls who go to address this? I mean, I think we're doubling down on inequity and making sure that we can reach the hardest to reach girls. I mean, in some ways, you know, by not having exporters right? And by not having imprisoned programming, you know, I didn't have to figure out how do I get my african american alumni from Oakland to, you know, mental park when it takes two hours to get there. And that's the only way that they can get access to computer science education. Now, I can do it. I'm like, and so we can reach girls everywhere and anywhere, you know, in the forest school district in the country. So I think that that's, you know, a silver lying. I think we're having conversations, uh, people are really seeing that, you know, that there really is a gap and that in many ways remote learning isn't asking more on because most people are not learning. You know, we're not driving, we're barely surviving and hopefully, you know, we're basically, you know, taking the wool off of people's eyes, including our policy makers so that they can actually start to invest in our Children differently. Um, I really also hoped that the private sector is really, you know, stepping up to think about, you know why we don't have high speed internet in every single home, why every single family who doesn't afford it is simply getting $1000 checks to pay for their internet bill. Um You know because it doesn't exist. Yeah, I was I was using um I had to actually interview them about Miranda a couple of months ago and I was at my father's home and I called my dad and I said yeah um the internet, right? Oh don't worry about that. Yes, I have internet. I go there in a style of internet so I couldn't even basically do a zoom call and they had to like knock on the neighbor's door and interview lin Manuel Miranda, you know in her basement. Right? But this is the reality of so many families because so many families across America who can't afford high speed internet. So what do they do? They don't participate, They turn off the computer, they don't want to log on to their classrooms, so they don't get to engage in the same way. You know, it's a privilege for some and not for all and hopefully we are recognizing that and and was addicted and solve it support too late. What what is the role here? I think you bring up some good points. But what's the role of tech companies? Because we've seen, you know, obviously have companies all of you included, um step up in different ways with either different products, new products, um, to address some of the current knees, um packaging them in pricing them in different ways, you know, all of the above. But what's the role of the text of the tech companies in that sector um versus government? And in what ways are you seeing there? Is there any increased collaboration there or what, what's your take as many arrives with that? Yeah. Um, you know, to just the first question on, you know, tech companies like google, we would generally approached education is kind of in three big buckets, there's products, there's programs and their philanthropy. And as you said on the product side, doing what we can to make sure that those don't have regular access to computers or strong connections to go continue to learn as best they can, whether it's making our products work that are offline or providing recordings for meetings, uh, you know, classes that have happened, you know, doing what we can to help bridge that bridge that gap on the program side. You know, really helping giving teachers the resources that we need, parents and students, the resources they need. Uh, you know, one of the things that we did is we have this app called Real Long that helps um, to help students in the early stages of reading, learn how to read and has kind of a built an assistant to visit a tutor to kind of help them. And we made that more broadly available as soon as we could, you know, trying to help you have to support families that we can and then on the side lines $10 million dollars really and help get resources and things like that across the world. But I think your point, this is not something that anyone tech company or even something together. It's really salt. Well, it's really going to take a broader community title effort to make this happen in collaboration on, you know, how to provide the schools and and resources to those that are mostly me. Um and you know, the point over lining like hopefully because it's a sign such a huge life on the inequity and it's not good, don't get ahead of some of this and and start to extend Evan, can you chime in a little bit about your love to check in there? Yeah. Technology technology is just part of the solution, but it's not the solution right now, as we already mentioned, while so many students are attending school remotely, technology is absolutely critical. It's a critical component and it's really important for our students ensure that all students have the access that they need. Um and technology is also solving other problems. Aggravated by the pandemic. I think in Oakland for example, the pandemic has amplified food insecurity for students and families really in neighborhoods rely on schools for daily meals. So we use technology to build a food distribution at, for them to deliver fresh boxes to produce two families in Oakland. So there's a huge opportunity for technology organizations to use innovative solutions um, right now, during the pandemic and beyond, but I don't think we can rely on technology as um, Ali Said, and technology companies alone, kids, these adults, I think bottom line of kids need adults who care about them and who cheer them on, they and they need each other for emotional and social support. Um, so technology is important, but we all have to be learning together right now. Everyone is trying to reopen safely, you know, schools, government homes, everyone is trying to, you know, to do the best that we can. So if we all work together and figure this out and share our best practices, I think that's what it's going to take to kind of have to be best freshman, You've had experience on the, on the government side of as well. Um, can you and you know, in your past political life, Um, but can you just give us like, what's the top one or two things that our government could or should be doing right now and whether you want to talk about it on the federal level or or not, but I would love to hear. Well, I think one stop politicizing school opening. I mean the entire way that we as a country have dealt with this has been abysmal and you know, as a parent who's trying to work, I'm in new york city, My son goes to public school honestly. Like I like, I don't know what, whether he's going remote or in person or what I'm supposed to do and what the doomed passport changes every other. It's a mess. You know, it is a mess. And I think that our teachers right now, our heroes because they're doing the best they can. And so the fact that again that we knew that this was gonna be a problem and we had months and months to plan and that we weren't able to put a plan in place. It just shows me a failure of leadership. And again, I watched yesterday's debate. It's just we need new blood. We need new leadership, we need the new people to come into the process and we basically we need we need we know, you know, I always say that we're living in a world where our Children are behaving like leaders and our leaders are behaving like Children and it cannot continue because the damage that we have done to young people, uh you know, we've lost an entire generation because of failed leadership. We didn't have to be this. Mm And I think that is what is so incredibly incredibly self stated. Amen to that. For sure. Um I want to also just after real quick. I mean I'm curious to hear, you know, obviously um another silver that Chromebooks are selling like hotcakes but I'm sure this is not was not that you know, nobody wanted a crisis obviously um as instrumental as tools that have been, they were not intended to replace classrooms. The chromebook was intended to be used in a classroom or in conjunction with the classroom. So what do you see as as like the biggest things that companies like yours can or need to do to address some of the needs that we are seeing now. Some of these new needs. Yeah, you're exactly right. The technology was not meant to replace the classroom in any way. I mean if you just think about the idea of like you're in the class, the teacher can tap on the shoulder, pull them aside or you know, even just look around the room and see if you can get, I mean, it's really, you know, it's it's really a tool to be used in the hands of people who can make good out of it, right? And it's a tool to enhance learning and what we know works, but it's not um, it's not the silver bullet for everything. It's it's um, it's an assistive, you know, uh set of tools and so I will say, you know, I think, you know, everything is a little bit technology can really do some interesting things. So here, right. Like if we look at, we, I heard from a teacher recently who was using live caption uh in order to connect with a student who is hard of hearing or you know, getting more one on one time with through because you know, they can pull them aside and have conversations with them. So it is interesting. So what technology, what technology can do in the space and how it can accelerate, but I enter your points in our replacement and I think the thing that we really need to be focused on right now and how are but how do we make these things so simple, simple, your needs work with your work clothes. I think my daughter for example here are amazing and they basically are doing three curriculums every day. They're doing the hybrid curriculum, the, the fully distance curriculum and then a contingency curriculum every day and it's just incredible the amount of work to make uh some people call them heroes, like it is amazing but they just need tools that are simple that allows them to connect with their student that allow them to do what they need to do that and help them connect with their families that they work from in order to explain it happening as much as possible. We do need to wrap ladies. I'm sorry, I feel like we just scratched the surface, but thank you so much for, for giving us some some optimism really and for commiserating with me um rich mahogany and having, thank you so much. Great to see you. Thank you. Thank you. Okay, and um I want to thank also all of you for being with us today for day two of Fortune, most powerful Women's Summit. Um it really really has been such an amazing day. Um we do have one more thing coming up. Please join us on zoom at 5:10 p.m. Eastern, just a few minutes from now. For a little bit of fun with our happy hour after party, we're going to join by Guinness brewer, holly Stevenson and you're going to learn about the art of brewing as we relax and do some networking. If you enjoy the networking today on happen, we're going to be doing more on that over zoom Zoom link should be in your calendar. Can't find it. Please go to the hell.