The new podcast is part of Understood’s ongoing efforts to bring visibility to learning and thinking differences and help shift stigma through the sharing of personal experiences.
All year, Understood has been encouraging conversations around learning and thinking differences. But all too often, these conversations ignore kids and families from marginalized communities. This includes low-income students of color. In the Back to School Study conducted by Understood and UnidosUS in August, 48% of Hispanic and 50% of Black parents reported not knowing how to start these conversations with educators.
The Opportunity Gap aims to foster conversation around this issue and help families feel more confident in advocating for their kids. It’s part of Understood’s efforts to make starting conversations around learning and thinking differences a bit easier.
The term “opportunity gap” refers to the real divide in grades, graduation rates, academic achievement, and life outcomes between privileged kids — often high-income, white, and neurotypical — and marginalized kids. These kids are often low-income, of color, immigrants, and have learning and thinking differences. Hosts Julian Saavedra, a Black parent and urban educator, and Marissa Wallace, a special educator with a multiracial son, take on the opportunity gap, explore issues of race and identity, and discuss how parents can advocate for their children of color. They’re joined by producer Andrew Lee, who introduces a topic relating to the opportunity gap in each episode — along with real life examples of the challenges.
Julian and Marissa don’t offer easy or glib solutions. Instead, they react on both personal and professional levels to help families be aware of and understand the gap. Through their perspectives, they make sure families of color feel less alone and more confident in advocating for themselves and their kids.
As the season progresses, they’ll push the conversation further with topics like how young people of color perceive ADHD and how IEPs differ by schools depending on income.
New episodes will be released every two weeks. You can download and listen to The Opportunity Gap through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and other listening platforms.