Dec 31 2020

LPI's First Five Years: Research, Action, Impact

The Learning Policy Institute launched our work in 2015 to bring high-quality evidence into policy deliberations at the federal, state, and local levels with the goal of creating a stronger and more equitable education system for every child. At a time when many states had disinvested in education during the Great Recession, when the safety net for children had become increasingly tattered, and when the number of segregated, high-poverty schools was growing rapidly, education appeared a dream deferred for millions of children.

Since then, the work of many organizations, including LPI, has contributed to wiser investments in many states. However, we face another enormous challenge now. In early March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic dropped like an invisible bomb into our deeply divided society, closing schools across the country. As always, communities of color and those serving low-income families have been hardest hit as the digital divide and the tattered safety net left many without the tools to connect to schools or employment, to access meals and health care, and to maintain stable housing.

The social upheaval created by the convergence of a public health crisis, an economic crisis, and a civil rights crisis borne of longstanding systemic racism has made it clear that public schools are the lifeblood of a community—as they have secured meals, computers, services, and on-line learning for tens of millions of children. At the same time, it has become clear—as policymakers and educators in many communities have stepped up to invent and share solutions—that the disruption of old ways of working provides an opportunity to replace archaic structures and unequal resources with new approaches that may better deliver on the promise of a quality education for all of America’s children.

As we move into the future, LPI is doubling down on understanding and sharing evidence-based policy and practice in education. We know more about the science of how children and youth develop and learn; what they need in order to thrive; how adults can enable, motivate, and educate them; how we can best prepare those adults; and how we can allocate resources so that all children experience school as a place where they are safe, seen, and supported.

This document was produced not just as a celebration of our impact over the past five years but as a blueprint for the work—and the worthy struggle—ahead. As WEB DuBois argued 70 years ago, “Of all the civil rights for which the world has struggled and fought for 5000 years, the right to learn is undoubtedly the most fundamental.” Our impact, documented in the following pages, is shared with many other partners who hold that same sense of urgency. Understanding that rigorous research is essential but, alone, is not enough, we’ve worked with hundreds of other organizations and policymakers across the country and have been generously supported by dozens of funders. We’ve come together because we share a commitment to creating equitable and empowering education systems for every student and, together, we are making a difference.

It is with hope and with heartfelt gratitude to all of our partners and supporters and to all those committed to the inalienable right of every human being to a high-quality education that we share this report.

Featured Reports: 2015–2020