The events of the last year—powerful demands for racial justice across the country interlaced with the devastating and disparate impacts of COVID-19—have pushed us here at the Research Alliance to reflect on our mission and role in New York City. We have spent time examining our commitments to racial justice and equity and articulating steps we will take to bring these commitments to life. This has included:
- Refining and expanding our guiding principles;
- Renewing our focus on elevating the voices of Black scholars and other scholars of color, on our staff and leadership team and in our network of collaborators; and
- Developing a new framework for monitoring educational equity in New York City (building on this National Academy of Sciences report).
Our staff have been incredibly resilient in adapting their work—transitioning to video-conferenced meetings, connecting remotely to our data resources and analytic tools, modifying research instruments and activities, and developing relevant publications. We are grateful that we have been able to keep most projects moving and producing useful information for stakeholders. We have also begun to turn our attention to future work, including research that can take stock of NYC’s effort to recover and reorient its education landscape in the wake of the current crises.
The new projects that are in development will build on a strong foundation. Our data-sharing agreement with the NYC Department of Education (DOE) has enabled us to build one of the largest and most comprehensive education databases in the country. We have undertaken more than 40 major research projects, with an array of partners, and have shared our findings through numerous conferences, presentations and published reports. Our Steering Committee reflects a wide range of perspectives, including representatives from the NYC DOE, the teacher and administrator unions, business, and community-based organizations. Support from a varied group of public and private funders helps ensure the independence of our work.
I encourage readers to peruse our publications and posts in our Spotlight on NYC Schools series, and to reach out to us with questions or ideas for future research. We are dedicated to making school data more accessible and to producing evidence that directly informs the work of policymakers, educators, and advocates, here in New York City and around the country. Together, we can build a better, more equitable and effective education system.