Tying equity to research and policy, new center plans for K-12 impact

February 7, 2018

USC Rossier’s latest research center will host a state superintendent forum as a first event

By Ross Brenneman

Photo by Flickr user “Jimmy Emerson, DVM”/Licensed under Creative Commons

When forming a research collaborative, the professors behind USC Rossier’s newest research center were intentional about focusing on using pubic scholarship to make change.

The Center on Education Policy, Equity and Governance launched this month with the goal of bringing researchers together with policymakers and educators to find how their work intersects and how they can help each other improve and advance opportunities particularly for students from traditionally marginalized backgrounds.

“I tend to think of governance as the process and means of developing and administering policy,” said Julie Marsh, one of the center’s co-directors. “We can’t just focus on the policies but also the institutions and arrangements that lead to these policies or create the context in which policies play out.”

Marsh co-directs CEPEG with Profs. Patricia Burch, Morgan Polikoff and Darline Robles.

CEPEG plans to make a splash early, inviting the candidates in this year’s election for state superintendent of public instruction to USC later this spring for a forum discussion.

“There has long been lament that research doesn’t influence policy or practice, but this work comes from a perspective that the problem is the policymakers and practitioners who aren’t making good enough use of the research that exists,” Polikoff said.

The co-directors say they want a variety of stakeholders to be involved in their work, not just district leaders.

“We are interested in building long-term relationships with districts around their equity agendas, using USC’s resources to help them define and assess alternatives and learn from the practices of other districts,” Burch said.

Starting at the top

The co-directors see their first major event, the state superintendent forum, as a demonstration of what kind of impact they plan to create.

Planned for March 19, the forum brings candidates Adam Anderson, Lily E. Ploski, Tony Thurmond and Marshall Tuck to campus. CEPEG’s leaders believe hosting the forum will help build dialogues with the very state leaders who shape the policy agenda in Sacramento.

“Our hope is that we can move away from ideological conversations—choice or no choice, charters or no charters—to focus on some of the most pressing policy issues and problems facing the state, and to get the candidates talking about the nitty gritty issues,” Marsh said.

CEPEG has started outlining similar events for the future. Among other projects, they’re planning to convene researchers with the advocacy community, as well as bring researchers together with administrators from throughout Southern California in order to hear about what studies would be most beneficial to district leaders.

“Our center is committed to building research-to-policy and research-to-practice partnerships that ensure the research we’re conducting is the research that policymakers and practitioners need,” Polikoff said.

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