2024: Reflecting on 30 years of CRPE

Happy New Year! With the start of 2024, we kick off a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Center on Reinventing Public Education. Throughout 2024, our 30th Anniversary series will highlight some of CRPE’s most impactful work, shine a spotlight on current systems and organizations we think are worth watching, and reflect on the most resonant changes in education over the last three decades. We will also share ideas, reports, and recommendations that continue to be relevant today. It’s a time for reflection, gratitude, and renewed commitment. CRPE has long been at the forefront of educational research and policy, driving meaningful change in a sector that shapes the future of our society.

For me, this anniversary is personal. I have been with CRPE nearly all 30 years—the majority of my life. It has been a true privilege.

Humble Beginnings

CRPE began with a simple yet powerful vision: to reimagine and transform public education for every child’s success. From our early days, we’ve believed in the power of evidence-based research, innovative policy solutions, and collaborative action. From the beginning, we’ve called out policies and practices that stood in the way of student progress and spotlighted beneficial innovations wherever they occurred. Our findings often upset protectors of the status quo as well as leading-edge reformers. We remain proud to follow the evidence wherever it logically leads, regardless of partisanship or politics

Our growth from a small group of researchers into a leading national education policy center is a testament to the keen insight, rigor, and productivity of our team and our collaborators.

Milestones of Impact

Throughout the years, CRPE has made significant contributions and helped point the way towards a better, more equitable public education system:

  •   Pioneering research: Our work has truly broken new ground over the years, offering ideas and evidence to improve public school choice, educational finance and governance, and innovative school and governance models. CRPE’s ideas and research have provided research and context for significant improvements for students and families in many of the nation’s largest and highest poverty school systems.
  •   Influential policy advocacy: By engaging with policymakers, educators, and the public, we’ve helped make changes happen in a sector that actively resists change. Some of those changes include informing state and local actions on pandemic response, reinventing school district governance, and making school choice more accessible to families most in need of alternatives. Our commitment to unbiased, rigorous analysis has made us a trusted voice in policy discussions across party lines.
  •   Strong collaborations and partnerships: Our partnerships with schools, districts, researchers, advocacy groups, and other organizations have been instrumental in bringing about tangible improvements in informing our research. In the course of the pandemic, for example, these partnerships allowed us to learn quickly what was happening on the ground and help organize timely, effective, and relevant evidence-building
Challenges and Resilience

Our work hasn’t been without challenges. We’ve navigated shifting political landscapes, funding uncertainties, and the evolving needs of educators, students, and families.

When CRPE turned 25, we chose to look forward rather than to reflect on our past to ensure that we, too, keep evolving and moving forward.  After taking stock of the current state of education reform ideas and political realities, we put forth a series of bold ideas about how public education could provide a portfolio of learning options and personalized pathways while maintaining equitable access, community assets, and educational coherence.

In particular, the Covid-19 pandemic tested our resilience and adaptability. However, it was also our shining moment. Our team immediately jumped into action, spearheading rapid and relevant work in tracking and reporting on pandemic responses, evolving innovations, and student welfare—while also calling out inequities.

Looking to the Future

As we celebrate our past success and impact, we also look forward to the future with optimism and determination. The landscape of education is ever-changing, and so are the challenges. Our commitment to reinventing public education as a goal, not a particular set of institutions, remains a bedrock principle. We will continue to:

  • Champion opportunity and human potential. We will work to ensure every child has access to high-quality education regardless of their background. We will keep the most vulnerable student populations central.
  • Embrace innovative solutions. We will explore new solutions, technologies, and methodologies to enhance learning and teaching. We will engage deeply in the rise of generative AI and its implications for K-12 systems change.
  • Foster true parent and community engagement. We will continue to research parent- and community-led solutions and power shifts through our ongoing partnerships with organizations like The Oakland REACH. 
A Note of Gratitude

This milestone wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our team, partners, funders, and the communities we serve. Your belief in our mission has been our driving force. As we embark on this next chapter, we invite you to join us in shaping an education system that is equitable, innovative, and capable of preparing future generations for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Here’s to an impactful and insightful 2024. This generation of young people deserves our focused attention and engagement to help them navigate this world’s fast-changing landscape. CRPE is committed and ready. 

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