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NEPC Talks Education: A Discussion About Critical Race Theory and K-12 Education

BOULDER, CO (December 14, 2023) – In this month's episode of NEPC Talks EducationChristopher Saldaña interviews Adrienne D. Dixson, Executive Director of the Education and Civil Rights Initiative and professor of Educational Leadership Studies at the University of Kentucky. Her research primarily focuses on how race, class, and gender intersect and impact educational equity in urban schooling contexts.

Dr. Dixson explores the origins of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and details its evolution as a theoretical framework in education scholarship. According to Dixon, CRT emerged from a quest to understand the insufficient impact of U.S. legal decisions, including landmark cases like Brown v. Board, in addressing the deep-rooted racism prevalent in the United States. She argues CRT provides an analytic perspective scholars can use to better understand why Brown, and other legal decisions and educational reforms, have not been successful at eliminating racist policies and practices.

Dixson emphasizes that CRT is not a generic exploration of racial issues but rather a focused investigation of the mechanisms by which race and racism are woven into social institutions. She suggests that CRT can be strategically used to analyze education by promoting critical thinking among educators, facilitating discussions about the challenges that marginalized communities, and examining the role of white supremacist ideology in shaping U.S. educational policy and practice. She notes that CRT is not about attacking groups or individuals; it is about understanding the mechanisms by which race and racism are used to oppress and subjugate indigenous, Black, and other people of color.

Professor Dixson calls on scholars and the public alike to recognize the enduring significance of race in the U.S. She underscores the importance of actively listening to marginalized voices and  of challenging the tenets of white supremacy. Finally, she encourages individuals across communities and contexts to study how power and intersecting identities have converged to shape the lives of marginalized and minoritized communities.

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 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, sponsors research, produces policy briefs, and publishes expert third-party reviews of think tank reports. NEPC publications are written in accessible language and are intended for a broad audience that includes academic experts, policymakers, the media, and the general public. Our mission is to provide high-quality information in support of democratic deliberation about education policy. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence and support a multiracial society that is inclusive, kind, and just. Visit us at: