Skip to main content

NEPC Talks Education: Discussing the Relationship Between Social and Educational Policy

BOULDER, CO (February 17, 2022) – In this month’s episode of NEPC Talks Education, NEPC Researcher Christopher Saldaña, Raymond C. Pierce, President and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation, and Meagan Crowe, a Senior Research and Policy Analyst for the foundation, discuss The South’s Pre-Pandemic Position, the first report in a new series of reports to be released by the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) under the title Economic Vitality and Education in the South (EVES).

Pierce and Crowe explain that the EVES series is intended to help broaden the conversation about the policies and practices that policymakers focus on to ensure students are supported outside as well as inside of the classroom. Crowe explains that the “social determinants of education” framework—introduced in the report—is designed to expand conversations beyond what schools do wrong or can do better to policy discussions about what policies are needed to provide a context for schooling that facilitates school success by ensuring that students are prepared to learn before they step into their classrooms.

The South’s Pre-Pandemic Position focuses on identifying racial disparities in poverty, housing, healthcare, and incarceration rates that existed before the pandemic. Subsequent reports will consider how the pandemic has impacted these disparities. Crowe notes that an important finding of the report is how students of color face disparities in multiple areas of their lives. She explains they are more likely to attend under-resourced schools, be impacted by poverty, interact with the criminal justice system, and face homelessness. She argues this highlights the need for policymakers and stakeholders to consider how policymaking can address multiple social and economic issues to support schools in helping students succeed academically. Pierce adds that schools in the South have been shaped by a history of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and disfranchisement—making it imperative to think about how social, economic, and racial justice intersect with educational policy.

Pierce and Crowe encourage stakeholders to use the report in several ways. Pierce recommends that readers use the report to help initiate difficult conversations about educational policy with local leaders and elected officials. He argues the report is designed to encourage the kind of complex deliberations that are necessary to understand how educational, social, and economic policy can work in tandem to support students. Similarly, Crowe recommends that stakeholders share the report with other sectors. She hopes the EVES series will foster collaborative research and policy initiatives that change how scholars and policymakers think about addressing achievement and opportunity gaps.

A new NEPC Talks Education podcast episode, hosted by Christopher Saldaña, will be released each month from September through May. 

Don’t worry if you miss a month. All episodes are archived on the NEPC website and can be found here.

NEPC podcast episodes are also available on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher, under the title NEPC Talks Education. Subscribe and follow!

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: