CharterFolk Oxygen Bar with Yvonne Chan

Jed invites Yvonne Chan to share how she keeps her energy level high amidst all the challenges facing educators today.

Transcript
Jed Wallace:

Hello, CharterFolk.

Jed Wallace:

I am very excited about today's conversation.

Jed Wallace:

We are in a unbelievable moment in public education history as well as just charter

Jed Wallace:

movement history, CharterFolk evolution.

Jed Wallace:

We are going through a pandemic and and a moment of challenge

Jed Wallace:

for educators that is just beyond anything that we've seen before.

Jed Wallace:

And while our world I do believe is coming through it in ways that are healthier and

Jed Wallace:

better and more intact than we're seeing in many other places in public education,

Jed Wallace:

it's absolutely true that we are facing a great challenge and we need to find

Jed Wallace:

ways to get more oxygen into our room.

Jed Wallace:

So that CharterFolk can just breathe more.

Jed Wallace:

And if we can make it through the difficult months that are in front of us

Jed Wallace:

I think we have great reason for optimism that the days in front of us are going

Jed Wallace:

to be even more exciting and successful than the ones that we've had in the past.

Jed Wallace:

And so I thought it would be good to start a new series where I might

Jed Wallace:

be able to connect briefly around 20 minutes with people who I've come across

Jed Wallace:

during my time in the charter world who have always filled me with oxygen.

Jed Wallace:

And as I was thinking of the list of people, the first person I

Jed Wallace:

wanted to talk to was Yvonne Chan.

Jed Wallace:

And I reached out to Yvonne and I said, Yvonne, would you be willing

Jed Wallace:

to be the first of our visitors, our guests on a new series, we would be

Jed Wallace:

calling the CharterFolk Oxygen Bar.

Jed Wallace:

And I'm delighted that Yvonne said yes.

Jed Wallace:

So Yvonne, thank you so much for being here.

Jed Wallace:

It's great to see you again.

Jed Wallace:

Welcome.

Yvonne Chan:

Thank you.

Yvonne Chan:

And thank you for having me here.

Yvonne Chan:

And I'm so glad to be able to communicate with the CharterFolks.

Yvonne Chan:

It's been what?

Yvonne Chan:ars and blink and here we are:Yvonne Chan:

So when you talk about oxygens and energy, right?

Yvonne Chan:

Not only, we are good stretch runners.

Yvonne Chan:

It's been 30 years and we are still running .For me.

Yvonne Chan:

I would see myself as like a candle, the candle continue to burn.

Yvonne Chan:

Until it dies.

Yvonne Chan:

But of course I'm not going to let myself die, you kidding?.

Yvonne Chan:

So make sure along the way I try to light other candles or

Yvonne Chan:

actually preheatother candles in order to build that people power.

Yvonne Chan:

So yeah, candles doesn't have to be just a state.

Yvonne Chan:

I've seen, we have different shapes.

Yvonne Chan:

We have flowers, we have blocks of blobs of candle burning.

Yvonne Chan:

So it is important for us to come together to have the candle burning.

Yvonne Chan:

And how do you burn that?

Yvonne Chan:

How are you going to keep the light on is through innovative.

Yvonne Chan:

Water is about innovation.

Yvonne Chan:

We chose this path.

Yvonne Chan:

Why do the same old, which you shouldn't just stay in our own closet.

Yvonne Chan:

So a charter license us to dream.

Yvonne Chan:

And unfortunately, some of us are not using those tools, all the

Yvonne Chan:

tools with courage and confidence.

Yvonne Chan:

So when we talk about innovation, now let's look back.

Yvonne Chan:

Jeez, 30 years ago.

Yvonne Chan:

Yeah.

Yvonne Chan:

People thought that way experiment.

Yvonne Chan:

Oh my God, here we are.

Yvonne Chan:

Still very strong, a lot of challenges, but we are still here.

Yvonne Chan:

So that innovation, I'm looking at it in the very beginning.

Yvonne Chan:

You remember that's Apire Don Shalvey a great mentor.

Yvonne Chan:

He lit the candle and populate me and Joe Lucente center, from Fenton.

Yvonne Chan:

Those days.

Yvonne Chan:

Yeah, absolutely, in the beginning, we were just a little weakling flame zip,

Yvonne Chan:

but we're able to get equal funding.

Yvonne Chan:

I remember that.

Yvonne Chan:

Yeah.

Yvonne Chan:

Unfortunately, all battle is about funding and that's not good.

Yvonne Chan:

That's not, we definitely the next phase, in the it's 10 years, you remember that

Yvonne Chan:

we have all types of innovations, right?

Yvonne Chan:

. Whether, some of us take on the spins.

Yvonne Chan:

In fact some already, have the community school design.

Yvonne Chan:

Come on, now they are doing community school design, right?

Yvonne Chan:

30 years later, where I thought about that, with healthy

Yvonne Chan:

start and put the clinic on.

Yvonne Chan:

And we did already the stem and we did all types of collaboration in PD.

Yvonne Chan:

We did all of that is through the innovation.

Jed Wallace:

I remember coming to, cause I think I was at Vaughn

Jed Wallace:

when it was still K through six.

Jed Wallace:

I think you were serving about 600 kids, but I remember walking around

Jed Wallace:

the campus with you and you were like, oh, we're going to go K-12 and we're

Jed Wallace:

going to build this health center and we're going to acquire these

Jed Wallace:

other properties in the neighborhood.

Jed Wallace:

And you were just this never ending just source of new ideas and energy.

Jed Wallace:

And I remember when I wanted to try to help convince people from Hooper avenue

Jed Wallace:

to convert, to charter school status.

Jed Wallace:

I think we put about 150 teachers and others on a bus

Jed Wallace:

to come and see you at VOD.

Jed Wallace:

And you, the, you in front of those 150 teachers, it was just one of the

Jed Wallace:

most electric moments of my life.

Jed Wallace:

And I think it was that way for those other 150 people to what do you think.

Jed Wallace:

And you have, how, w how is it that you have that level of energy?

Jed Wallace:

How is it that, that level of passion, and is that what is sustaining you through

Jed Wallace:

this and then leads you to that kind of an innovation that you're talking about?

Jed Wallace:

What is that inner flame for you?

Jed Wallace:

Do you think?

Yvonne Chan:

Because you said about all those dreams, right?

Yvonne Chan:

Dreams, again, like people say.

Yvonne Chan:

It is not implemented, that is just a dream.

Yvonne Chan:

And you sleep on it for years.

Yvonne Chan:

So I think what has happened is my dream become a lot of people's dreams

Yvonne Chan:

and then come together, small step.

Yvonne Chan:

Extending the school year, extended the school day, doing the 21st century style

Yvonne Chan:

with what, a more individualized help.

Yvonne Chan:

So being able to realize, little dream little bit at a time, what

Yvonne Chan:

is absolutely impossible would just take us a little bit longer, but

Yvonne Chan:

whatever is difficult we do it.

Yvonne Chan:

We took over the food services, we went ahead and went for a whole year

Yvonne Chan:

round and not the busing type of year around, and then went ahead and

Yvonne Chan:

it took on first five and now only have the preschool and the main thing

Yvonne Chan:

though, is not just within Vaughn.

Yvonne Chan:

Basically, northeast valley, these valleys are a hotbed of charter, that brought

Yvonne Chan:

in the rest of the folks as a charter community and say, oh, it can be done.

Yvonne Chan:

Can be done.

Yvonne Chan:

It just can be done.

Yvonne Chan:

And absolutely fighting the facilities issue.

Yvonne Chan:

Yeah, we were not allowed to own land.

Yvonne Chan:

Remember?

Jed Wallace:

Here's a question I have for you.

Jed Wallace:

It's like your metaphor is, Hey, I'm a candle and I'm going to light others.

Jed Wallace:

And wait a second.

Jed Wallace:

If now we're a dozen candles, the amount of light that we can cast is larger.

Jed Wallace:

And Hey, we can cast across the entire San Fernando valley.

Jed Wallace:

We can cast across the entire state when you became a state board member.

Jed Wallace:

Now you're a board member at LACOE you're doing it across 1.4 million

Jed Wallace:

kids, but do you think our movement is doing as good a job as we could?

Jed Wallace:

Just lighting other candles so that we can share this load.

Jed Wallace:

It seems like a moment of particular importance to share the load, right?

Jed Wallace:

To have more candles, casting, light.

Jed Wallace:

What's your thought about that?

Yvonne Chan:

True.

Yvonne Chan:

I've seen it, I've seen in new leaders.

Yvonne Chan:

If they feel themselves that only they can do it, that's not good.

Yvonne Chan:

Okay.

Yvonne Chan:

Or if they feel that they don't have the confidence and delegate

Yvonne Chan:

everything, that's not good either.

Yvonne Chan:

You have to be what we call a breakthrough leader.

Yvonne Chan:

I don't mean the virus, but through, okay.

Yvonne Chan:

I'm talking about your breakthrough leader is you can foresee some challenges where

Yvonne Chan:

you yourself would take on some and show the others that it can be done, but then

Yvonne Chan:

you got the snap generally, go, okay, depending on, the people and the timing.

Yvonne Chan:

So you don't go and let the others continue and let the candle

Yvonne Chan:

burning, then you burn yourself out.

Yvonne Chan:

Okay.

Yvonne Chan:

Now look at me.

Yvonne Chan:

Okay.

Yvonne Chan:

Look at me again.

Yvonne Chan:

And also this other thing, we do operation.

Yvonne Chan:

At times you've got to settle down and say, look, let's look upon policy.

Yvonne Chan:

Okay.

Yvonne Chan:

Policy within your own charter school.

Yvonne Chan:

Policy in your consortium that you can share, might not blow

Yvonne Chan:

all kinds of COVID policy.

Yvonne Chan:

And some of us happen to be on the state board and on the LACOE board.

Yvonne Chan:

Wasn't that policy when we frame and pass prop 39.

Yvonne Chan:

Remember those days?

Yvonne Chan:

Wasn't that an oh my God day.

Yvonne Chan:

Yeah.

Yvonne Chan:

All right.

Yvonne Chan:

And also being able to have the knowledge base to think through policy too.

Yvonne Chan:

Because always we are just so immersed into the lunch schedule, staff,

Yvonne Chan:

vaccination, the staffing, and all that, but, well read, read more about

Yvonne Chan:

policies and what people are doing and possibly you can frame your own policies.

Yvonne Chan:

An example, look at that option three for SELPA.

Yvonne Chan:

We're almost the whole thing, right?

Yvonne Chan:

My god, I said, okay, then we said we walk, but then somehow we convinced and

Yvonne Chan:

again it's as the Don Shalvey, there was various one of us and LA Unified, and

Yvonne Chan:

even now you're talking about when you start spreading those candles, guess what?

Yvonne Chan:

Don't forget.

Yvonne Chan:

Not just CharterFolks.

Yvonne Chan:

You spread those lighting candle in the districts folks.

Yvonne Chan:

Yep.

Yvonne Chan:

Absolutely.

Yvonne Chan:

They can be your best friend.

Yvonne Chan:

And for me, I'm in the old day you said that I'm always combating.

Yvonne Chan:

No, I have not very collaborative with the school district.

Yvonne Chan:

Very collaborative with general public, because we are definitely need to be

Yvonne Chan:

respected that our thoughts count.

Yvonne Chan:

That our ideas, our innovation will spread.

Yvonne Chan:

So therefore, so the innovation also have to populate into folks

Yvonne Chan:

that's working in the district or working in non-charter world.

Yvonne Chan:

So not just us.

Yvonne Chan:

So therefore, really, we have to look at operation, policy,

Yvonne Chan:

that how innovation that we have can embed it into all of these.

Jed Wallace:

Yeah, we can pick our battles at different times and also we

Jed Wallace:

can pace our battles and we can assess where we are, and it may very well be

Jed Wallace:

that we'd like to take something on.

Jed Wallace:

Maybe it's related to funding equity, maybe it's related to special ed

Jed Wallace:

or facilities, but we can also work on that next year or next month.

Jed Wallace:

Is if what we require right now is greater collaboration with other

Jed Wallace:

educators, whatever it may be that allows us to just nurture our own

Jed Wallace:

candles and those kinds of things.

Jed Wallace:

I wonder if

Yvonne Chan:

I do not see, after 30 years, okay, that's 20 before with LA unified,

Yvonne Chan:

I don't see things as battle anymore.

Yvonne Chan:

No, I'm sorry.

Yvonne Chan:

Because in public education, if we want to be successful,

Yvonne Chan:

you really want to help kids.

Yvonne Chan:

We cannot havewinners-losers okay.

Yvonne Chan:

We can not have right or left, okay.

Yvonne Chan:

Democrat and Republican.

Yvonne Chan:

What have you.

Yvonne Chan:

Okay.

Yvonne Chan:

Charter non-charter.

Yvonne Chan:

We have to really seek commonn ground.And I think now with the COVID and 30 years

Yvonne Chan:

anniversary, I believe that definitely opportunities for common grounds.

Yvonne Chan:

Common grounds said we do need each other.

Yvonne Chan:

And I don't mean to repeat what you said.

Yvonne Chan:

Okay.

Yvonne Chan:

I still use the word battle and war and all that, but I have to say

Yvonne Chan:

that, okay, together, we get the job.

Yvonne Chan:

No,

Jed Wallace:

No, I completely agree with you.

Jed Wallace:

I think that there are, I think that there are some things where it is

Jed Wallace:

tension and there still is challenge and a need for, to embrace conflict.

Jed Wallace:

But I also think that there are all sorts of other places where there are

Jed Wallace:

opportunities for us to work together.

Jed Wallace:

And if there was ever a time for us to be smart about taking advantage of

Jed Wallace:

every opportunity to work together, rather than over exert ourselves

Jed Wallace:

on unnecessary conflict or on conflict that we can perhaps defer,

Jed Wallace:

perhaps this is a moment to do that.

Jed Wallace:

And you've just been one of these people, I think that has done an amazing job of

Jed Wallace:

calculating when is the moment to push.

Jed Wallace:to:Jed Wallace:

Is my right contribution within the charter school community, is my right

Jed Wallace:

moment to go to the state board, is it my right moment to go to LACOE?

Jed Wallace:

You've just, shown amazing smarts and an overall dedication to all

Jed Wallace:

kids and to all schools that, I think has been key to your overall impact.

Yvonne Chan:

Yeah.

Yvonne Chan:

I think, we have to be respected not just by our peers.

Yvonne Chan:

But by also general public.

Yvonne Chan:

So how you really light the candle again, mass, this, enormous energy

Yvonne Chan:

for the goods of kids and the community, you get the respect.

Yvonne Chan:

And when you respect me or enter into the policy world and

Yvonne Chan:

they impact a whole lot more.

Yvonne Chan:

But again, this is again, through very, deep thinking of how we can

Yvonne Chan:

be creative to solve persistent problem, and the achievement gap.

Yvonne Chan:

And now it's a learning loss.

Yvonne Chan:

And I think doing the two years of school closing, many of

Yvonne Chan:

us have been very innovative.

Yvonne Chan:

Not only we maintain the service to the kids and mental health and all,

Yvonne Chan:

but also the trust of the community.

Yvonne Chan:

See what's new for us is the tremendous trust when the light goes off, when

Yvonne Chan:

all of this wind blew, whatever it is, that's what candle stands.

Jed Wallace:

That's right.

Jed Wallace:

And if there's ever a moment for us to innovate, I think it's now and

Jed Wallace:

we have so many teams, we can't find enough teachers to do different roles.

Jed Wallace:

We can't find enough teachers assistants and these kinds of things.

Jed Wallace:

And so the future that we need to make is going to require us

Jed Wallace:

thinking about all sorts of problems in completely different ways.

Jed Wallace:

And it is my sense that our creativity and our abilityto innovate gives us a

Jed Wallace:

sense of hope and optimism, something specific to work toward that many other

Jed Wallace:

educators, unfortunately, don't have, we need to get it to those educators as well.

Jed Wallace:

But in the meantime, we certainly for our own kids and for our own communities, get

Jed Wallace:

these things created as quickly as we can and then help share them as broadly as

Jed Wallace:

we possibly can with every public school.

Jed Wallace:

In addition, learning from a bunch of others that have already figured

Jed Wallace:

these things out so that, there's this collective learning happening across all.

Yvonne Chan:

Exactly.

Yvonne Chan:

Now let's look at most of us.

Yvonne Chan:

I would say all of us received those COVID relief money, right?

Yvonne Chan:

Especially the title one schools in such a big amount.

Yvonne Chan:

It is time to rethink the financial aspect and how we use

Yvonne Chan:

these dollars effectively, okay.

Yvonne Chan:

Whether it is get better long-term facility.

Yvonne Chan:

Whether it is to upgrade our IT, our website, and for us had to be

Yvonne Chan:

very information and data savvy.

Yvonne Chan:

Learn that now, okay.

Yvonne Chan:

Whether it is use that money to leverage partnership in mental health,

Yvonne Chan:

where they will be there to stay.

Yvonne Chan:

So the best thing we can do now is see how we are not going to waste those

Yvonne Chan:

COVID relief money and a one-time base.

Yvonne Chan:

So think through how you can use it for your innovative program,

Yvonne Chan:

for your innovative infrastructure.

Yvonne Chan:

How you going to have that as a leverage for the next five, 10 years to come.

Yvonne Chan:

And that is staying ahead of the challenge.

Jed Wallace:

Yeah what I think just longer term, I see our counties in

Jed Wallace:

California being incredibly important because what we want really is, in my

Jed Wallace:

opinion, is places like school districts to evolve into becoming more like

Jed Wallace:

charter schools, to get more freedom, to get more flexibility, but also to

Jed Wallace:

have higher levels of accountability and they need it and they need a good third

Jed Wallace:

party that's going to evaluate whether or not they're doing well by kids.

Jed Wallace:

What's a good third party?

Jed Wallace:

Our counties, right?

Jed Wallace:

Our counties can serve as authorizers of charter schools, but they

Jed Wallace:

could also service quote unquote authorizers of school districts.

Jed Wallace:

And we now begin to see a north star toward which all schools are learning.

Jed Wallace:

And then, th the learning that would happen between LA unified and LA charters

Jed Wallace:

would be way better if we were all under your umbrella rather than squabbling with

Jed Wallace:

LA unified about facilities or Special Ed.

Jed Wallace:

So that's where I think, a north star is for us to be thinking about, but of

Jed Wallace:

course, you've got to have somebody great and energetic, situated at that north

Jed Wallace:

star, which is why I was so thrilled to hear that you had taken that position at.

Yvonne Chan:

Hey, I think people thought I'm crazy, after seven years on state

Yvonne Chan:

born and I'm still pretty much, helping out onsite mentoring and grandma,

Yvonne Chan:

don't forget, two kids are Vaughn.

Yvonne Chan:

And still building a new building and the LA unified third augmentation grant.

Yvonne Chan:

No taker?

Yvonne Chan:

We just took it.

Yvonne Chan:

So anyway, joining the LACOE board also allow me to reflect

Yvonne Chan:

on the role off the camera.

Yvonne Chan:

As the county does have the resources.

Yvonne Chan:

I remember on state board lots contracts, go to the county, your county, you

Yvonne Chan:

do career tech, you do 21st century.

Yvonne Chan:

You do preschool.

Yvonne Chan:

You dohead start as well as the county also has the services

Yvonne Chan:

may need the fiscal services.

Yvonne Chan:

As well as other PT services, the English learner, stem, and so forth.

Yvonne Chan:

But also don't forget, it's a monitoring.

Yvonne Chan:

It monitors you 180 school districts and charter schools and all the charges.

Yvonne Chan:

In terms of finance, right?

Yvonne Chan:

Finance, you'd have to send in your interim report and your sex before

Yvonne Chan:

your honorary board, and they will come and count your how many toilets

Yvonne Chan:

you have, you have potential teachers and of course it authorizes charters.

Yvonne Chan:

Yes.

Yvonne Chan:

LACOE.

Yvonne Chan:

LA.

Yvonne Chan:

Los Angeles county, we have about 28, countywide, and those on appeal.

Yvonne Chan:And with the passage of AB:Yvonne Chan:

So having myself, and other board members who are much more understanding

Yvonne Chan:

of charters will allow that open communication with the public, educate

Yvonne Chan:

the public also be able to use our experience to ask the right questions and

Yvonne Chan:

make sure the good charters get approved.

Yvonne Chan:

Ones that need help get help.

Yvonne Chan:

Those ones that are not good, close it down.

Yvonne Chan:

It's, it probably will be a much, a better place where charters can

Yvonne Chan:

collaborate with other charters, can obtain the services, can be able to,

Yvonne Chan:

cross-fertilize with non charters county office have very special type of schools.

Yvonne Chan:

We have a superintendent Eduardo and we went back a few years and she's

Yvonne Chan:

very effective and we hope that will be the equitable allocation of

Yvonne Chan:

resources, as well as making sure that charters all, be included.

Yvonne Chan:

And I really looked forward to this four year term.

Yvonne Chan:

Yeah, it was not too crazy.

Jed Wallace:

Well, Yvonne, I'll just wrap up with this last statement.

Jed Wallace:

And then the last question, let you share whatever you want to with the

Jed Wallace:

CharterFolk people, but you did a, an enormous favor to me when I was at

Jed Wallace:

Hooper Avenue at the very beginning of my charter school journey.

Jed Wallace:

And you pled with me not to make a mistake to say that we would only

Jed Wallace:

open our charter for more teachers than necessary sign the petition.

Jed Wallace:

You said, please don't do that yet.

Jed Wallace:

Please don't do that.

Jed Wallace:

It's not necessary.

Jed Wallace:

I did it anyway.

Jed Wallace:

And it ended up costing me a great deal, such that, that,

Jed Wallace:

that charter could not happen.

Jed Wallace:

And I remember calling you afterwards and I don't remember the exact words,

Jed Wallace:

but it was basically buck up young man.

Jed Wallace:

Your charter school story is not over yet.

Jed Wallace:

And you're going to do this new thing, but bring this experience with you.

Jed Wallace:

And, within five years, I think it was five years, it might've been six.

Jed Wallace:

I was at High Tech High, bringing a statewide application for a

Jed Wallace:

statewide charter application to you.

Jed Wallace:

And so you've just been one of these people that not just for me,

Jed Wallace:

but for so many others provided support and then, help pick us up at

Jed Wallace:

different times and set us on our way.

Jed Wallace:

And it just, this incredibly compelling leader and then

Jed Wallace:

person that's inspired folks.

Jed Wallace:

So I say, thank you for having always done that.

Jed Wallace:

And I just wonder if there's any last message you might want to share with

Jed Wallace:

CharterFolk along those lines, as we continue to stay in touch going forward

Jed Wallace:

through CharterFolk in your work at LACOE.

Yvonne Chan:

Okay.

Yvonne Chan:

Probably a couple messages.

Yvonne Chan:

Number one is, I've learned from experience that there is

Yvonne Chan:

no playbook, you know, that you look up page one and to do what?

Yvonne Chan:

So CharterFolks need to see what I call the invisible.

Yvonne Chan:

If you cansee the invisible, as people said, then you can do the impossible.

Yvonne Chan:Second messages, as:Yvonne Chan:

Again, licenses to dream.

Yvonne Chan:

Let's let us all use the charter tools, and the charter spirits, our

Yvonne Chan:

sense of autonomy, the creativity, the confidence, and the courage to really

Yvonne Chan:

break through what all the challenges now and innovate, and be in fact impactful

Yvonne Chan:

so we can really have these innovations that needed by millions of kids.

Yvonne Chan:

And with that, I wish everybody a happy new year.

Jed Wallace:

Thank you so much, Yvonne.

Jed Wallace:

Exactly what I envisioned for the oxygen bar.

Jed Wallace:

I know I'm full of awe as I always am in your presence.

Jed Wallace:

So thank you so much, I look forward to staying in touch.