NNERPP Statement on Recent Events

We share in the horror and devastation over the murder of George Floyd and too many other Black Americans. We share in the shame over the lack of societal and institutional progress in building an equitable nation. And we see an important role for research-practice partnerships (RPPs) to build a better future. 

It is hard to articulate an adequate response to these increasingly and immensely challenging times. In the end, words are useless if actions don’t follow, but silence is part of the problem. So, we want to take a moment to address the pervasive and resilient disease that is the deep, systemic racism that has been infecting American institutions and culture since the beginning. Here we offer some ideas for how the RPP community, including NNERPP, should take part in ending this oppression and creating a more equitable future. 

In particular:

Although RPPs inherently challenge the longstanding gap between the education practice and research communities by explicitly bringing together representatives from both groups, we should not be satisfied with this step alone. We invite members of our RPP community to collaboratively explore the ways in which institutional and systemic forces continue to uphold the very patterns we are trying to break, and identify ways in which the practice and research communities can lead for change. This includes assessing our own home institution’s processes, programs, and people for evidence of practices perpetuating racism.

The co-production of evidence that is central to the work of partnerships presents a critical opportunity to catalyze new conversations among practice and research communities. However, without an intentional examination of who is included in these conversations and who is excluded, we will continue to disregard the voices of those who matter most. We invite members of our RPP community to ensure equitable engagement of all stakeholders in the production and use of evidence to support decision making, especially seeking out the voices and meaningful engagement of historically marginalized communities and committing to responsible use of such evidence.

As partnerships work to shed more light on and address the various root causes of the disparities in educational opportunity and attainment through research, we encourage RPPs to also actively work against racial and social injustices that are inherent in our processes. To that end, we implore members of our RPP community to carefully assess assumptions that are held with respect to the framing of research questions, the collection of data, and the use of such knowledge in decision making, paying close attention to ways in which the research may unintentionally perpetuate a false narrative. 

Affirming “Black Lives Matter” at a time like this is important yet insufficient in addressing the foundational challenges education in America is facing. As learning organizations, we support a call to action to unleash the power of knowledge that has been collaboratively generated through research and practice, and work intentionally to generate a new type of research that represents all stakeholders and voices. Never has the need been greater to unite and take action in mitigating the cancer that is racism.