Solving the Opportunity Gap with Student Social Networks, with Julia Freeland Fisher, author of Who You Know
Play • 54 min

For years the education system has worked to address disparity in outcomes for different student groups. We’ve known this disparity as the achievement gap, and more recently and accurately as the opportunity gap. But so far, significant national, state, and local efforts have done little to actually close the gap and increase equity for students across the board. In this episode, Julia Freeland Fisher, Director of Education at the Christensen Institute and author of the essential Who You Know, sheds light on the underlying reason that these efforts have fallen short. When it comes to student opportunity, the research shows what most of us have seen throughout our lives: "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Or, more accurately, it's both. Julia shares research-rich insights on the pivotal potential of student social networks and how schools can unlock innovations that can close the gap for good.

Connect with Julia and the Christensen Institute:


Twitter: @juliaffreeland and @ChristensenInst

Chapter Guide:
0.00 - Intro to the episode
1:42 - Julia's origin story: "We don't accomplish anything alone."
5:30 - Who You Know: Opportunity sits at the cross-section of what students know and who they know
8:31 - Powerful networks are built on high-quality relationships
12:36 - Julia's "why" behind the book
15:09 - What research tells us about the role of student relationships in the opportunity gap equation
20:50 - Why are we handcuffed to meritocracy?
24:38 - Inherited networks and the transformative power of weak ties
31:28 - Static exposure vs. relationship-based exposure
33:37 - 3 innovative strategies to get started in schools
40:44 - The central role of trust in a school's approach to relationship
44:52 - A future shift and the walled-garden
50:19 - Who are you giving an A to Julia?
51:48 - Get connected with Julia and the Christensen Institute

If you liked what you heard, rate and review Off the Assembly Line

You can find more show details and resources at and connect with Rebecca on LinkedIn or at

Learn more about the Teacher Mastermind at

Follow Off the Assembly Line
twitter @offassemblyline
instagram @offtheassemblyline_podcast
facebook @offtheassemblylinepodcast.

Special thanks to Scott Holmes for our intro music. You can check out more from him at

Thanks for listening to Off the Assembly Line. Share it with someone who needs to hear it and then go make a ruckus!

Support the show
More episodes
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu