About this Project and Video

True Frames is a project that is actively developing shared frames focused on supporting grassroots education advocates and communicators to develop a more powerful narrative about the future of public education.

Our stance, rooted in learning from Spirit in Action’s Listening Project and Educational Justice Communication Summit, is that there are a number of “hot spots” or key issues that must be addressed by education organizers and organizations to develop a shared narrative with the potency to support public understanding and advance a transformative agenda while keeping a commitment to public education.

PDF of the Full Project Description


Ten episodes have been identified to spark the engagement needed to find “true frames” that build off of framing-oriented research but also the lived experiences and issue-based disagreements of like-minded and like-hearted efforts:

  • Relevant to Life – builds off of a Tupac Shakur frame – and examines the Purpose of the Education we need. In the breakdown – examines how schools have acted as both liberator and assimilator and the need to advance a “for agenda” based on what we want now. (completed – see the video here)
  • End Profiteering – links corporatization with charters, vouchers, and online schools but provides a clear and simple frame. The explainer includes why “profiteering” is a better frame for alliance building with charter schools who are acting in the public interest and makes room for good corporate actors as potential supporters. It also narrows focus on the single issue of intentionally seeking to exploit social programs for profit. (completed – see the video here)

The next 8 episodes.

  • Reclaiming and Reimagining Teaching and Learning in America – Teaching is a role that should be sacred and valued. Tells the story of investments in the development of teacher-leaders and commitments within systems and communities and compare it against TFA. Break down the TFA story gone wrong, some of its right impulses, and why it is time to move a different direction. 
  • The End of High Stakes and Standardization – We are at the end of an era. Whether you agreed with its goals, politics, or motives – the time when all students, communities, and states were treated like uniform objects to pushed by national funding hooks is over. This episode breaks down national policy and narrative from “A Nation at Risk” forward and why it hasn’t worked.
  • Creating a Social Contract – The incremental nature of the recent efforts to reauthorize ESEA opens the door to a more powerful reauthorization effort to build over the next seven years. The creation of social contract that articulates a vision for the future of public education and what it means and commits to young people and communities can frame and give much-needed focus to education organizing efforts.
  • The right-sized role the federal government in public education – From civil rights protections (link with criminal justice) to ensuring equitable funding to the spreading of best practices and ideas – there is a role for the federal government. Break down ESEA history and make visible the role of systems and government in daily life – what it has been and what it could be.
  • Agency and Equity – Advances a story of personalized and “deeper learning” that also attends to what communities need, collective efforts, and culturally responsive instruction. Addresses demographic and technological shifts. 80% of US teachers are white teaching majority people of color. Move towards personalization but can come at too high a price – tech needs to be rightly used and rightly held.
  • Democratic governance, responsiveness, and accountability – Advances the need for community-owned and community-accountable solutions. Attends to issues of choice, charters, and vouchers (not grouping them all together) and lays out a framework for how to pursue innovative forms and educational spaces that keep education a public good. Break down the outsized role of the Gates Foundation – but also the power of people to respond. 
  • Powerful learning conditions for each and every teacher and child – Changes in technology, understanding of neuroscience, cultural shifts, and teacher-led developments in student engagement are changing how and what needs to be learned and where. Details and specifics matter. Attention to the kinds of environments every student should have the opportunity to experience. Breaks down edges, limits, constraints – and the framework around teaching and learning conditions, loopback on privatization as a threat/false solution and give examples.
  • The New Purpose of Education is to Thrive – Communities, teachers, and students need conditions to support growth and learning. There is no place for violence. There must be an end to the school to prison pipeline. Explicit and implicit racism is and must be confronted. Lay out the transformation agenda of social entrepreneurialism. Explicitly break down the limits of calling simply for funding, “orchestras”, or implying that we simply need to back to an imagined past where things were good.


The creation of True Frames was made possible with the in-kind support and contributions of the following individuals and Foundations:

Bay and Paul Foundation

Albert Sykes

Sabrina Joy Stevens

Francisco Guajardo

Nancy Margulies

Shawn Strader

Scott Nine

Linda Stout

Manauvaskar Kublall

Shadiin Garcia

Nikhil Goyal

Jessica Tang