Bush-Obama school reform: Lessons learned - AEI

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The 21st century has been a remarkable time in school reform. States and districts pursued aggressive testing and accountability policies. Choice-based reforms moved to the heart of the education discourse. The federal government heavily promoted policies around teacher quality, standards, and school turnarounds. The Institute of Education Sciences launched a new chapter in federally supported education research.

What lessons might we draw from the past two decades? What do the George W. Bush and Barack Obama years teach us about K–12 reform strategies and Washington’s efforts to support them?

Join AEI for a research conference exploring these questions. The conference will feature three panels on the Bush and Obama years, a panel with policymakers who served in the Bush and Obama administrations, and a keynote address by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Join the conversation on social media with #BushObamaSchoolReform.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


8:45 AM

9:00 AM
Opening remarks:
Frederick M. Hess, AEI

9:05 AM
Panel I: What we have learned about accountability

Deven Carlson, University of Oklahoma
Ashley Jochim, Center on Reinventing Public Education
Tom Loveless, Brookings Institution
Stefanie Sanford, College Board

Michael Q. McShane, EdChoice

10:05 AM
Panel II: What we have learned about policy instruments

Anna Egalite, North Carolina State University
Matthew Kraft, Brown University
Patrick McGuinn, Drew University
Emma Vadehra, Center for American Progress

Michael Q. McShane, EdChoice

11:05 AM

11:15 AM
Panel III: What we have learned about Washington’s role

Sara Dahill-Brown, Wake Forest University
Joshua Dunn, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Robert Pianta, University of Virginia
Gerard Robinson, Center for Advancing Opportunity

Michael Q. McShane, EdChoice

12:15 PM

12:45 PM
Panel IV: Lessons from Bush-Obama school reform

Nina Rees, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
Roberto Rodriguez, Teach Plus
Hanna Skandera, State of New Mexico Department of Education (former)
Joanne Weiss, Weiss Associates

Frederick M. Hess, AEI

1:40 PM

1:45 PM
Frederick M. Hess, AEI

1:50 PM
Betsy DeVos, US Department of Education

2:05 PM
Betsy DeVos, US Department of Education
Frederick M. Hess, AEI

2:20 PM

2:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Brendan Bell at [email protected], 202.862.5859.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Deven Carlson is an associate professor of political science and presidential research professor at the University of Oklahoma. He has written extensively on the operations and effects of test-based accountability policies and the politics of education. He has published this work in several high-quality scholarly outlets, including Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Journal of Urban Economics, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Economics of Education Review, and Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.

Sara Dahill-Brown is an assistant professor in the politics and international affairs department at Wake Forest University. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is an alumnae of Utah’s public schools and a recovering Texas middle school teacher, and she has worked as a researcher and volunteer in the school systems of Wisconsin and North Carolina. Her work has appears in the Russell Sage Journal of the Social Sciences, Studies in Educational Evaluation, and Politics and Policy.

Betsy DeVos serves as the 11th US secretary of education. She has been involved in education policy for nearly three decades, and for 15 years, she served as an in-school mentor for at-risk children in the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Public Schools. Secretary DeVos has worked to support the creation of new educational choices for students in 25 states and the District of Columbia. Previously, she served as chairman of the Windquest Group, an enterprise and investment management firm. She has also served on the boards of numerous national and local charitable and civic organizations, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Kids Hope USA, ArtPrize, Mars Hill Bible Church, and the Kendall College of Art and Design. Secretary DeVos received a B.A. from Calvin College.

Joshua Dunn is professor and chair of the department of political science, as well as director of the Center for the Study of Government and the Individual, at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. His research has largely concentrated on education policy and the courts, and his books include “Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University” (Oxford University Press, 2016), “Complex Justice: The Case of Missouri v. Jenkins” (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), and “From Schoolhouse to Courthouse: The Judiciary’s Role in American Education” (Brookings Institution Press, 2009). Since 2006, he has written a quarterly article on law and education for Education Next. He has also written for the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review, and Education Week.

Anna Egalite is an assistant professor in the College of Education at North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on the evaluation of education policies and programs intended to close racial and economic achievement gaps. She has studied the direct and indirect impact of school choice initiatives, including the competitive impacts of private school voucher programs on public school achievement and how voucher-induced student transfers affect racial stratification in public and private schools. Dr. Egalite’s scholarly articles have appeared in outlets including the Economics of Education Review, Education Policy Analysis Archives, and the Journal of School Choice. She holds a Ph.D. in education policy from the University of Arkansas and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University.

Frederick M. Hess is a resident scholar and the director of Education Policy Studies at AEI, where he works on K–12 and higher education issues. He is also the author of the popular Education Week blog “Rick Hess Straight Up.” Since 2001, he has served as executive editor of Education Next. Before joining AEI, Dr. Hess was a high school social studies teacher. He teaches or has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University, Johns Hopkins University, and Harvard University. As an educator, political scientist, and author, Dr. Hess is often published in scholarly outlets, such as American Politics Quarterly, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Teachers College Record, and Urban Affairs Review. His work has also appeared in popular outlets including The Atlantic, National Affairs, National Review, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and US News & World Report. His books include “Letters to a Young Education Reformer” (Harvard Education Press, 2017), “The Cage-Busting Teacher” (Harvard Education Press, 2015), “Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age” (Corwin, 2014), “Cage-Busting Leadership” (Harvard Education Press, 2013), “The Same Thing Over and Over” (Harvard University Press, 2010), “Education Unbound” (ASCD, 2010), “Common Sense School Reform” (St. Martin’s Press Griffin, 2004), “Revolution at the Margins” (Brookings Institution Press, 2002), and “Spinning Wheels” (Brookings Institution Press, 1998). He has also edited influential books on the Common Core, entrepreneurship in education, education philanthropy, the impact of education research, and the Every Student Succeeds Act. Dr. Hess is the senior founding fellow of the Public Education Foundation’s Leadership Institute of Nevada. He also sits on the review board for the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools and serves on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and 4.0 Schools. Dr. Hess has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in government, in addition to an M.Ed. in teaching and curriculum, from Harvard University. He also has a B.A. in political science from Brandeis University.

Ashley Jochim is a senior research analyst at the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE). Her research focuses on policy analysis and implementation, including work on school turnaround, state education agencies, K–12 accountability, Common Core standards, and district reform efforts. She is coauthor of “A Democratic Constitution for Public Education” (University of Chicago Press, 2014). Dr. Jochim has published in scholarly outlets such as Policy Studies Journal, Politics and Governance, and Political Research Quarterly. Before joining CRPE, she was a graduate fellow at the Center for American Politics and Public Policy and a research analyst at the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Washington.

Matthew Kraft is an assistant professor of education and economics at Brown University. His research and teaching interests include the economics of education, education policy analysis, and applied quantitative methods for causal inference. He has published on topics including teacher labor markets, coaching and professional development, and teacher evaluation systems. Dr. Kraft’s work can be found in scholarly outlets such as the American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Education Finance and Policy, and Economics of Education Review. Before earning his doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, he taught middle and high school humanities in Oakland and Berkeley, California, public schools.

Tom Loveless is an education researcher and nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. From 2000 to 2017, he authored “The Brown Center Report on American Education,” an annual report analyzing important trends in education. He has published widely in scholarly journals and appeared in popular media to discuss school reform, student achievement, and other education topics. Dr. Loveless’ books include “Lessons Learned: What International Assessments Tell Us About Math Achievement” (Brookings Institution Press, 2007), “The Great Curriculum Debate: How Should We Teach Reading and Math?” (Brookings Institution Press, 2001), and “The Tracking Wars: State Reform Meets School Policy” (Brookings Institution Press, 1999). He holds a Ph.D. in education from the University of Chicago and an M.A. in special education from California State University, Sacramento. From 1979 to 1988, he taught elementary school in the San Juan Unified School District.

Patrick McGuinn is a professor of political science and education at Drew University and a senior research specialist at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE). He is the author or editor of three books: “The Convergence of K–12 and Higher Education: Policies and Programs in a Changing Era” (Harvard Education Press, 2016), “Education Governance for the 21st Century: Overcoming the Structural Barriers to School Reform” (Brookings Institution Press, 2013), and “No Child Left Behind and the Transformation of Federal Education Policy, 1965–2005” (University Press of Kansas, 2006). He has written extensively on federal education policy during the Bush and Obama administrations and in particular on their use of incentives and inducements to promote select school reform strategies.

Michael Q. McShane is director of national research at EdChoice. His analyses and commentary have been published widely in the media, including in the Huffington Post, National Affairs, USA Today, and The Washington Post. He has also been featured in education-specific outlets such as Teachers College Commentary, Education Week, Phi Delta Kappan, and Education Next. In addition to authoring numerous white papers, Dr. McShane has had academic work published in Education Finance and Policy and the Journal of School Choice. He is the editor of “New and Better Schools” (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015), author of “Education and Opportunity” (AEI Press, 2014), and coeditor of “Teacher Quality 2.0” (Harvard Education Press, 2014) and “Common Core Meets Education Reform” (Teachers College Press, 2013). A former high school teacher, he earned a Ph.D. in education policy from the University of Arkansas and an M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame. Dr. McShane is also an adjunct fellow in education policy studies at AEI and a research fellow in the Economic and Policy Analysis Research Center at the University of Missouri.

Robert Pianta is dean of the Curry School of Education, the Novartis US Foundation Professor of Education, and founding director of the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning at the University of Virginia. His research focuses on theory, measurement, and improvement of teacher-student interactions and their contributions to students’ learning. He has authored more than 300 publications, led research grants totaling over $60 million, is an associate editor for AERA Open, and consults with federal agencies and foundations around the world. He is a fellow of the American Education Research Association and received the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota.

Nina Rees is the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. She has over 20 years of experience in Washington, DC, most recently as senior vice president for strategic initiatives for Knowledge Universe (KU). Before her tenure at KU, she served as the first deputy under secretary for innovation and improvement at the US Department of Education. In this capacity, she oversaw the administration of 28 grant programs, supporting 1,300 projects, and was responsible for spearheading innovative federal programs and policies such as school choice, charter schools, and alternative routes to teacher certification and school leadership. Before moving to the Education Department, Ms. Rees served as deputy assistant for domestic policy to the vice president at the White House. Before that, she was the senior education analyst at the Heritage Foundation, where she authored more than two dozen policy briefs and served as the foundation’s chief spokesperson on education. She previously worked at a public interest law firm and an advocacy organization. She began her career in Washington, DC, on Capitol Hill, where she worked for Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL) in 1991.

Gerard Robinson is the executive director of the Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO), a research and education initiative created by a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Charles Koch Foundation, and Koch Industries. Before CAO, he worked as a resident fellow at AEI. Before joining AEI, Mr. Robinson served as commissioner of education for the State of Florida and secretary of education for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He has also served as the president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. He is a former legislative aide in the California and Virginia legislatures and has served as a senior research associate for the School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas, a senior fellow at the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University, and a senior fellow at the Institute for Education Policy at the City University of New York.

Roberto Rodriguez is president and CEO of Teach Plus, where he builds the teacher leadership movement and supports contributions of teacher leaders to educational innovation and chance. Before joining Teach Plus, he served in senior roles in the White House and the United States Senate. As deputy assistant to President Barack Obama for education, Mr. Rodriguez developed and advanced policies to improve educational opportunity for learners from birth through adulthood. In the US Senate, he served as principal education adviser to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and led successful bipartisan efforts to enact the No Child Left Behind Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, the Higher Education Opportunity Act, and the Head Start for School Readiness Act. He began his career in Washington, DC, at the National Council of La Raza, where he directed research and policy analysis of federal and state education issues.

Stefanie Sanford currently oversees the College Board’s Communications and Marketing, Policy, and Government Relations departments, strategic relationships with foundations, and the Washington, DC, office. Before joining the College Board, she spent more than 10 years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Before joining the foundation, she held several senior policy positions in both state Republican and Democratic offices. At the federal level, she was a White House Fellow in the Office of Cabinet Affairs. Dr. Sanford has written and spoken extensively on education and technology topics, served as a German Marshall Fellow and a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow, and is the author of “Civic Life in the Information Age: Politics, Technology, and Generation X” (Palgrave MacMillan, 2007). A native Texan, she holds a B.S. from Texas Christian University, an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Hanna Skandera most recently served as secretary of education for the State of New Mexico. Previously, she served in the Schwarzenegger and Bush administrations in senior leadership roles. She was appointed as a research fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and taught education policy and leadership at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Government and Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy. She is also a former Aspen Institute fellow. In other professional endeavors, Ms. Skandera was CEO of Laying the Foundation and executive vice president for Academic Partnerships.

Emma Vadehra is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. She previously served in the Obama administration as chief of staff to Secretaries John King and Arne Duncan at the US Department of Education. In that role, Ms. Vadehra worked closely with the White House and across the department to develop, execute, and oversee the administration’s pre-K through college education agenda. Before serving at the department, she served as chief of staff at Uncommon Schools, a charter school management organization. From 2009 to 2011, she served as deputy assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development at the Department of Education, overseeing K–12 education policy development and issues related to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Ms. Vadehra has also served as the senior education counsel for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), focusing on K–12 education, student loans, and national service policy. She has a J.D. from Yale Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Brown University.

Joanne Weiss is an independent consultant to organizations on education programs, technologies, and policy. For the past 15 years, she has focused on driving systems-level education change through high-impact policymaking, grant making, and investing. From 2009 to 2013 she served in the Obama administration as chief of staff to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and director of the federal Race to the Top program. Before joining the Obama administration, Ms. Weiss was a partner and chief operating officer at NewSchools Venture Fund, where she focused on investing in and supporting a variety of charter management organizations, human capital solutions providers, and academic tools and systems designers. Before NewSchools, she spent 20 years pioneering ways to increase the effectiveness of teaching and learning — first by leading curriculum development, then as CEO — for companies providing technology-based products and services to underserved students in K–12 and higher education. She has a degree in biochemistry from Princeton University.



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