Kagan Charitiable Foundation

Empowering Teachers - Engageing StudentsEmpowering Teachers - Engageing Students

Letter from the Founders: Laurie & Spencer Kagan

Photos of children in classrooms Photo of kids fist bumping

We are passionate about transforming instruction. We have dedicated our lives to improving an educational system that is broken. But we are very optimistic. We know it can be fixed with the right tools.

How is the educational system broken? It is creating two classes of students. The haves and the have-nots. There is a substantial achievement gap between students who come from poverty and those who come from the middle and wealthy class. There is also unequal educational achievement between the races. Education in America is supposed to be the great equalizer, providing all our children an equal opportunity to succeed. But that's not what's happening. Where you're from, how much money your parents have, and the color of your skin are determining the outcomes for our Nation's youth. And that's not right.

To make things worse, our school system is plagued with bullying, violence, poor race relations, and discipline problems. School should be a safe-haven for learning, but instead too many children go to school worrying about being bullied, being targeted for their race, and even being the victim of a mass shooting. How can we expect our children to learn in an unsafe environment? It's just not right.

So how can we be optimistic if the system is so unequal and becoming increasingly dangerous? We know there's a solution. There's a solution to creating the kind of education where all students are engaged and achieve at higher levels. There's a solution to equalizing status, opportunity, achievement. There's a solution to racism, bullying, and violence in schools. And the amazing thing is, the solution is not difficult. One small change in the way teachers teach, addresses all these problems simultaneously.

So what is this solution? It's teaching for full student engagement. Study after study has proven that we can combat the learning gaps by engaging our disengaged learners. They can achieve at levels close to their peers who presently consistently outperform them. With full engagement, we can even get our highest achievers reaching greater heights. More engagement means greater learning for all. Importantly, the way we structure student engagement can also dramatically increase social skills while reducing bullying, racism, violence, and other discipline problems.

Engagement alone doesn't solve our social ills. But when we engage students by having them work together on the same team, we develop liking, helping, and friendships across race, sex, and group lines. Students who were once isolated or were competing against others are instead teamed up with classmates and given shared goals. They are asked to help, to discuss, to tutor their classmates so everyone succeeds. Like teammates on a sports and functional teams in the workplace, teammates work together to achieve. Structuring for cooperation and positive interactions while mastering the academic curriculum simultaneously boosts learning, breaks down interpersonal barriers, and promotes tolerance and cross-race friendships.   

When teachers use these cooperative, research-proven instructional strategies, students are more engaged, achieve more, and are far less likely to engage in bullying, violence, and disruptive classroom behaviors. We've worked with countless teachers and schools and and have witnessed the turnaround. Teachers equipped with the knowledge and skills to meaningfully engage students increase the achievement for all while creating a more cooperative and caring classroom.

It is our mission to put simple, yet enormously powerful teaching tools in the hands of the teachers who need them most. Join Kagan Charitable Foundation in empowering teachers to engage all our students. Join us in creating a better future by making a positive difference in the lives of teachers and their students.


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