How Dare Us

Climate Activist  Greta Thunberg   Source:  Alex Wong/Getty Images

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg

Source: Alex Wong/Getty Images

You are failing us but young people are starting to understand your betrayal... The eyes of all future generations are upon you and if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.
— Greta Thunberg

As I listened to Greta Thunberg’s compelling and powerful call to world leaders at the United Nations climate summit this week, I felt a familiar mix of activation, fury, and embarrassment. I felt activated to fight for changes to human behavior that allow us to co-exist on planet earth sustainably. I felt furious that humans continue to choose and defend a catastrophic impact on all life on the planet. And I felt embarrassed that my generation ­­– who could have already curbed climate change and altered the course of our planet’s history – have not, and are now increasingly the people in positions of power – the world leaders ­– to whom Greta’s generation must say “how dare you.”

How dare us.

Unfortunately, this story and these emotions feel devastatingly familiar to those of us working in public education. Despite having the resources, knowledge, and capacity to ensure every student in America has a public education that fully serves and honors them, we don’t. In California currently, we aren’t willing to fully support folks to choose and stay in the teaching profession, resulting in a teacher recruitment and retention crisis across the state. Simultaneously we are very willing to put unprepared, unsupported, and unrepresentative teachers in classrooms, and are doing so in record numbers, especially in those classrooms made up of our most vulnerable students.

How dare us.

Solving an unprecedented crisis will require unprecedented ambition.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Last week, half the Trellis leadership team headed to Los Angeles for the kick-off of the California Teacher Residency Lab, while the other half headed to New York City for the convening of 100kin10. The purpose, nature, and scale of these events were quite different, but the vision and philosophy were not: let’s ensure our teachers reflect and can fully serve our students. This alignment was no more evident than in how both events kicked off – with calls for the need to be ambitious and bold.

Of course, ambition and boldness are what Greta Thunberg demands of us for our climate. They are what Gregory Hampton and Emma González demand of us to end gun violence. They are what Mari Copeny and Peace Titilawo demand of us to ensure we have clean water and nutritious food. They are what we must demand of ourselves for every student in every classroom in our country. This will and must begin with our students of color, immigrant students, students living in poverty, and other students who we have been unwilling to see and serve.

Clockwise from left: Brooklyn Community Foundation  2016-17 Youth Fellows ;  Mari Copeny ;  youth activists and leaders  from   United Playaz   ;   Emma González

Clockwise from left: Brooklyn Community Foundation 2016-17 Youth Fellows; Mari Copeny; youth activists and leaders from United Playaz; Emma González

Be a nuisance when it counts.
— Marjory Stoneman Douglas
After watching Greta Thunberg’s most recent speech and talking about it together, my daughter Aza gently grabbed my hand and wrote me a reminder of my responsibility as a grown-up.  I told her, “we won’t.”

After watching Greta Thunberg’s most recent speech and talking about it together, my daughter Aza gently grabbed my hand and wrote me a reminder of my responsibility as a grown-up.

I told her, “we won’t.”

When we started Trellis five years ago we asked, what would the model of teacher recruitment, preparation, development and support look like if we did the most honorable and powerful things we know to do for young people in our schools? This is the origin of the Trellis model, pulled together from the best research, the highest-status experts, and our collective experience. We put it down on paper and we sent it out to everyone we know. And as feedback and reactions came back from around the country we noticed two clear themes: (1) we had gotten the model right (enough) and (2) it was going to be really hard to pull off.

I have a personal memory of sitting in my kitchen reviewing the latest email reaction and thinking to myself, so are we not going to try to do this because it’s going to be hard? Our community today – 140+ strong, majority People of Color executive-board-to-beginning-teacher, boasting a 100% teaching retention rate and growth data that makes the districts we partner with swoon – is evidence that disrupting an oppressive, broken system is possible… and happening. It requires unprecedented ambition. It requires being bold.

And it’s only getting started.

To transforming teaching together,


Ok. We're Listening.


Kamala Harris: “You have to see and smell and feel the circumstances of people to really understand them.”

Cory Booker: "Immigrants do not leave their human rights at the border."

Julian Castro: "We saw that image today that broke our hearts. It should also piss us all off."

Beto O’Rourke: “Racism in America is endemic. It is foundational. We can mark the creation of this country not at the 4th of July, 1776, but Aug. 20, 1619, when the first kidnapped African was brought to this country against his will.”

Bernie Sanders: “We will go to war against white nationalism and racism in every aspect of our lives… we do it by actions and not just words; we have a government, we have an administration, we have a cabinet that looks like America; that looks like all of us; the reflection of America.”

Andrew Yang: “My father grew up on a peanut farm in Asia with no floor. And now his son is running for president. That is the immigration story that we have to be able share with the American people.”

Pete Buttigieg: "If we want to get the results that we expect for our children, we have to support and compensate the teaching profession… Respect teachers the way we do soldiers and pay them more like the way we do doctors."

Elizabeth Warren: “We will have a secretary of education who has been a public school teacher.”

Who are you listening to? Why?

Representation Matters

“There is something that may be even more important than black students having black teachers, and that is white students having black teachers.”

- Gloria Ladson-Billings

As the dust had just begun to settle from the teacher’s strike in Los Angeles, Oakland teachers prepared for a fight of their own. In an effort to secure pay raises, ensure smaller class sizes, put a temporary halt to school closures, and secure more support staff, Oakland Unified School District teachers led a seven-day strike in February resulting in them getting a great deal of what they asked for. But it’s far from enough.

Brookings’s Brown Center on Education Policy, 2019

Brookings’s Brown Center on Education Policy, 2019

These strikes – and others around the country in the past few years – are fundamentally about students being served more fully and powerfully. Teachers must have the financial, professional, and structural support to do their jobs effectively. But an additional stressor on the quality of education we provide to young people was underscored recently in a study finding that the proportion of non-white teachers is not keeping pace with population growth. While Millennials are the most diverse generation in history, the proportion of non-white teachers in the Millennial generation is eerily stagnant. This has a critical effect on our communities: even one Teacher of Color in a student’s K-12 education experience can have profound, transformative, and long-term effects on their interest in, access to, and achievement in school, let alone on their perceptions of power and smartness. And yet we know that in addition to having far too few Teachers of Color in the workforce, we aren’t retaining the Teachers of Color we do have: Teachers of Color leave the teaching profession in greater numbers and earlier than white teachers largely because of insufficient preparation to teach and lack of ongoing support.

So what are we all going to do about this?

At Trellis we are committed to preparing, developing, and retaining highly-effective STEM teachers. Central to that goal is an intentional focus on teacher diversity. If the teachers in the classroom reflect critical identities of the students they serve, and they have the best professional preparation and ongoing support to serve them, more students will have the opportunity and interest to pursue STEM courses, degrees, and careers.

This year at our 5th Annual Unconference, Trellis is gathering diverse groups of community stakeholders (from students to educators to business leaders) to discuss how we can ensure all strata of our society – our classrooms, colleges, and companies, in particular – can be reflective of our communities. We are past the defense of the need for this representation - we’re ready to make it happen.

To transforming teaching together,


P.S. Learn more about our UnConference and register (for free) here. We look forward to taking action with you to make our communities stronger!

We're Going to Find Out

It’s exciting to have a Congress that is more representative of our communities than ever before. Each of these extraordinary new members of congress had successes navigating our educational system. And I imagine each can name at least one teacher who not only believed in them but had skills and tools to support them breaking through an educational system not designed to serve them fully, or at all. Imagine what our Congress – and our businesses and universities and hospitals and other places of service and community and innovation – will do and be when they are fully representative of all of us. Imagine how strong and creative and collaborative our country will be.

Our changing Congress is one piece to achieving this vision. It is exciting to think about Latina, Muslim, Black, gay, and female-identified young people looking at our federal government and now seeing at least one person that looks or identifies like them. But it’s not enough. We need to ensure that the opportunities for these young people to reach Congress and other futures are clear and varied, and this begins with pathways through school.

People ask me a lot why I “want everyone to be a mathematician or a biologist.” I don’t. I believe we need carpenters and journalists and social servants as much as we need scientists and engineers. Frankly, I believe people should be what they want to be. But the reality is that middle and high school math and science courses sort our young people by zip code and race, determining who graduates and what happens next. School ensures young people know whether or not they actually have choices. So it’s not about getting all students into STEM majors and careers; it’s about making sure all students truly have pathways to do whatever they want to do. Some will choose STEM, some will choose politics, some will choose something else. But all must have choices.

What would happen if all young people had experiences in school that celebrated their intersectionalities and aspirations, and that guaranteed them the kind of sustained, rigorous, and supported education that is the truest civil right? What would happen if a young person could look at any adult in a position of power or service and know there is a pathway there for them?

We’re going to find out.

With gratitude for you and your commitments to disruption, advocacy, and transforming teaching together,


A celebration of Congressional “firsts” –

·      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York): Youngest woman elected to Congress 

·      Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (Michigan): First Muslim women in Congress 

·      Ayanna Pressley: Massachusetts' first black congresswoman

·      Jahana Hayes: Connecticut's first black congresswoman (and former Teacher of the Year!)

·      Deb Haaland (New Mexico) and Sharice Davids (Kansas): First Native American congresswomen 

·      Jared Polis (Colorado): First openly gay man to win a governor's race

·      Michelle Lujan Grisham: New Mexico's first Latina governor

·      Marsha Blackburn: Tennessee's first woman senator

·      Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne: First women elected to House from Iowa

·      Kristi Noem: First woman governor in South Dakota

·      Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia: Texas' first Latinas elected to Congress

·      Janet Mills: Maine's first woman governor

Standing For Something

2017 in the Rear View

When I don’t know what to say to someone, I walk toward them.
— Lee Mun Wah

Perhaps the end of a long, tough year is the most important time to name what we stand for. To let our values and vision ring out. And to stand with those who are brave enough to continue to fight.

We stand with teachers and their teachers.

We stand with Dreamers (and their dreams).

We stand with Ahmed and Rochelle and Waters and .

We stand up for science.

We stand with #metoo and #blacklivesmatter and #loveislove and #nohumanisillegal.

We stand up for those who resist and speak up and unsubscribe.

We stand up for kindness and friendship, and for walking toward one another.

We stand up for those who can’t.

We stand up for the Best. Job. Ever.

At Trellis, we view STEM teaching and learning as an act of social justice and we are working to ensure that our most untapped student populations have access to amazing STEM teachers. Great teachers are made, not born. And Trellis is helping to create the long term support required to fix the leaky STEM pipeline and give students the teaching and opportunities they deserve. When we stand up for teachers, they can stand up for their students. We are proud to say we stood up for teachers in 2017, and we will stay standing.



Megan W. Taylor, NBCT, PhD

Founder, Trellis Education

If You're Needing Evidence of Love, and Goodness, and Hope...

Photo Credit: Rev. Amy Butler, senior minister at Riverside Church in Manhattan, and family friend of Spencer Sleyvon

Photo Credit: Rev. Amy Butler, senior minister at Riverside Church in Manhattan, and family friend of Spencer Sleyvon

Dearest Amy,

I’m at a loss for words to describe today. Without question, it was one of the most memorable days of my life. I’m still basking in the glow of warmth and friendship. You and Spencer extended yourselves to me and embraced me in a most unbelievable fashion. My only words in this moment are a humongous thank you. I love you both to the moon and back.

Ms. Roz
— Letter from Rosalind Guttman to a family friend of her Words With Friends buddy, rapper Spencer Sleyon, after meeting Spencer in person for the first time

Trellis welcomes Clay Virgil to its Executive Board!

Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.
— Nelson Mandela

Clayton has had a very diverse career in both public and private sector. Prior to joining Adobe, Clayton spent the past 2 ½ years supporting the Global Marketing function for Visa, providing strategy, planning and finance leadership for the North America, Visa Checkout and Insights + Analytics teams.   Before Visa, he co-founded a startup called SeedTalent focused on matchmaking MBA talent with early-stage companies while also consulting for education non-profits on building out their finance, operations and management practices.  Before his venture into the entrepreneurial world, Clayton spent 3 years trying to transform the K-12 education landscape for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) as a selected member of the Broad Residency, a program that matches talented professionals with senior management roles in public education agencies throughout the nation. His time with CPS was “very insightful” and a far cry from his days in investment banking for Lehman Brothers and his early days in consumer marketing and strategic finance at Time Inc. for Sports Illustrated, People, Martha Stewart Living and Sunset.

Clayton received his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and his Bachelors of Science in Economics at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (“go Quakers”).  A native New Yorker with Trinidadian roots, he currently resides in Oakland with his wife and two firecracker daughters.  In his spare time, he enjoys basketball, hitting the gym, music and video games. If he was not at Adobe, Clayton would be trying to build urban communities through real estate and education or lobbying Steve Mills to join his management team to completely turn around the New York Knicks.  


"TODOS stands with Rochelle Gutiérrez and other researchers who provide clarity so we remember what we teach, whom we are teaching and center language, culture and literacy in the mathematics that we teach and in the ways that we teach it." Read More

This excerpt is among the responses of the national Mathematics Education  community to those who have expressed disagreement with Dr. Gutierrez' ideas in this article in unprofessional and/or hateful forms.

#TODOSsupportsRochelle #TrellissupportsRochelle