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NEPC Talks Education: Examining the Emergence of K-12 Learning Pods

BOULDER, CO (September 15, 2020) – In this month’s NEPC Talks Education podcast episode, NEPC Researcher Christopher Saldaña interviews Dr. Janelle T. Scott, the Robert C. and Mary Catherine Birgeneau Distinguished Chair in Educational Disparities at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Scott is an expert in educational policy and equality of opportunity in education and co-author of the book, The Politics of Education Policy in an Era of Inequality: Possibilities for Democratic Schooling.

Scott and Saldaña discuss how some parents have responded to the challenges of remote learning by pooling their resources and sharing their time to form “learning pods” for their children.  While this has obvious benefits for some children, it also means that children without access to learning pods or other resources will have constrained educational opportunities. Scott points out that this exacerbates educational inequities that result from factors such as poverty and race.

Scott argues that the emergence of learning pods has been caused in part by a failure of the federal government to provide schools with the resources and guidance necessary to reopen safely. She points out that the federal government could have, for example, supported the successful reopening of schools by making early investments in their physical infrastructure, in personal protective equipment for teachers, staff, and students, and in high-quality technology and broadband for students who need them. Scott explains how the failure of the government to do any of these things well will continue to weigh most heavily on students who were already most challenged in their pursuit of educational opportunity, as more privileged families use their resources to compensate for the government’s failures.

Scott sees the possibility for significant and meaningful positive change in K-12 public education if parents and families – both those participating in a learning pod and those who continue to work with their local public school – engage in the political process and advocate for local, state, and federal policies that offer access to essential resources for all students and families.

A new NEPC Talks Education podcast episode, hosted by NEPC Researcher 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, Spotify, 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: