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Solving the Opportunity Gap with Student Social Networks
with Julia Freeland Fisher, Director of Education at the Christensen Institute, and author of Who You Know
For years the education system has worked to address disparity in outcomes for different student groups. We've known this disparity as the achievement gap, and more recently and accurately as the opportunity gap. But so far, significant national, state, and local efforts have done little to actually close the gap and increase equity for students across the board.

In this episode, Julia Freeland Fisher, Director of Education at the Christensen Institute and author of the essential Who You Know, sheds light on the underlying reason that these efforts have fallen short. When it comes to student opportunity, the research shows what most of us have seen throughout our lives: "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Or, more accurately, it's both.

Julia shares research-rich insights on the pivotal potential of student social networks and how schools can unlock innovations that can close the gap for good.
Connect with Julia and the Christensen Institute
Episode Chapter Guide
0.00 - Intro to the episode
1:42 - Julia's origin story: "We don't accomplish anything alone."
5:30 - Who You Know: Opportunity sits at the cross-section of what students know and who they know
8:31 - Powerful networks are built on high-quality relationships
12:36 - Julia's "why" behind the book
15:09 - What research tells us about the role of student relationships in the opportunity gap equation
20:50 - Why are we handcuffed to meritocracy?
24:38 - Inherited networks and the transformative power of weak ties
31:28 - Static exposure vs. relationship-based exposure
33:37 - 3 innovative strategies to get started in schools
40:44 - The central role of trust in a school's approach to relationship
44:52 - A future shift and the walled-garden
50:19 - Who are you giving an A to Julia?
51:48 - Get connected with Julia and the Christensen Institute

Episode Extras
Here's who this week's guest is giving an 'A' to, and a few notable resources mentioned on the show.
👏Who are you Giving an 'A' to?
  • Julia's co-author and husband, Daniel Fisher, for his exceptional work on the book Who You Know, and the salient reminder that we don't accomplish anything alone.
💡Notable Resources
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