ACSA EdCal logo.
Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
Show tells hope-inspiring stories of public education
From the Executive Director, Wesley Smith
March 29, 2021
The pandemic has had a significant negative impact on the mental health and wellness of young people and adults alike. It seems like every news story focuses on what is going wrong, and every educational decision is unfairly scrutinized due to polarizing politics. As such, ACSA has intentionally lifted up hope-inspiring stories in our publications, on social media and during our live broadcasts. We are convinced that focusing on what is right and working in public education is especially important right now.
“Inside California Education” is a television show that shares ACSA’s passion for identifying what is working in California public education and celebrating the educators who make it happen. Recently, I interviewed Co-Executive Producer Rick Launey and Series Producer Christina Salerno to discuss why the show is important to them and where it is taking us next.
What is the genesis of “Inside California Education”? Who created it and why?
Rick Launey: The idea for “Inside California Education” grew out of conversations that my colleague Larry Miles and I were having with so many different people around the state, including education leaders like you, Wes. Over and over again we heard a compelling desire to help better inform the general public about our state’s public schools. There are so many powerful and inspiring stories from California’s classrooms that deserve to be told. We wanted to bring those stories to more people around the state — and PBS KVIE, the public television station in the Sacramento area, shared that vision. KVIE brought their incredible journalistic and production talents to the enterprise to make it all happen. Our first show aired in 2017 and immediately we had a positive response. We’re excited now to head into Season 4.

All ACSA members are invited to a free Season 4 virtual preview screening and panel discussion event at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, 2021. Visit to RSVP.
There have been many important topics covered like school governance and understanding K-12 funding. What stories is the team most proud of and how can our readers find those episodes?

Christina Salerno: Since this series launched, we’ve produced more than 150 stories in schools and classrooms all across California. Our production team has traveled as far north as Eureka to tell a story about how the local schools are teaching students Yurok to keep this native language alive; to as far south as the California border, where we featured high school Mariachi bands in Chula Vista schools. In the aftermath of the devastating Paradise fire, we met students and teachers who lost everything in the fire, yet still came together in makeshift schools to learn as best they could. Both the Eureka and Paradise stories were nominated for regional EMMY Awards, and the series won its first regional EMMY Award in 2020 for a story about how certain California community colleges are now able to offer four-year degrees.
We’ve featured dozens of other stories and inspirational people, including teachers, students, superintendents, bus drivers, custodians, principals, librarians, school nurses and mental health professionals. People can visit our website,, to watch any of our past stories. The series airs on PBS KVIE in Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., and it airs on other California PBS stations as well — please check your local listings.
What changes can we expect this coming season and what are some of the topics you will be covering?
Christina Salerno: This past year has been challenging for everyone, including our production team. We started out 2020 preparing to travel the state to tell a fresh batch of stories, but had to put those plans on hold when the pandemic hit. Since then, we’ve become experts at Zoom interviews and recording virtual classes.
We are releasing six new episodes starting on April 7 focused on learning during the pandemic. You’ll meet teachers and administrators who are addressing a growing mental health crisis among kids and teens. We also look at the creative ways teachers are holding virtual music classes, and what it looks like when a school in Ripon returned to in-person learning. We also joined classes as they took virtual field trips to places like the California State Parks and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Another episode focuses on social emotional learning during the pandemic, and includes a profile of First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who is advancing this issue.
In the fall, we plan to release another six new episodes that will take a closer look at schools as they begin to re-open around the state.
If you could wave your magic wand, what would the future of “Inside California Education” look like? What would the show’s legacy be?
Rick Launey: I feel like the “magic wand” was already waved when this show first aired and quickly became a popular weekly public television series statewide. There is so much enthusiasm for the show, and it’s great when so many of the positive stories about our schools can be shared with so many people. We’re thrilled that in addition to early education and K-12 stories, we’ve now added episodes devoted to California’s Community Colleges. In terms of the show’s legacy, we hope “Inside California Education” continues to inspire people, to inform them and to give them insight. I like to say that this series really belongs to everyone in the state because everyone has an interest in our public education system. There are literally thousands of inspiring and interesting stories still to tell — I hope our legacy will be that we told as many of them as possible, and that millions more Californians will have a greater understanding of and appreciation for public schools.
Contact Us

© 2020 Association of California School Administrators