AEI fellows Andy Smarick and Nat Malkus joined a distinguished panel on Monday morning to discuss Mr. Smarick’s recent paper on applying charter-style accountability to urban school districts.
To begin, Dr. Malkus introduced the paper and the participating panelists. Mr. Smarick then presented an overview of his paper, discussing the benefits and drawbacks to the public school and charter systems and how this new model of accountability could improve both schooling options.
In response, Chris Barbic of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation argued that the proposal would put school operators in a completely new context, which could be difficult to navigate. Christy Wolfe of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools pointed out that the setup could help smooth charter school and district school tensions. DC Public Charter School Board’s Scott Pearson warned that the supply of schools in many urban areas is not high enough to support multiple school closures, and the Education Trust’s John King Jr. voiced that not all cities can attract multiple operators.
The recent Every Student Succeeds Act gives states the ability to revamp their K–12 accountability systems. With the rise of charter schools, urban districts no longer serve as a city’s sole public school operator, which was not the case when accountability systems first arose. This new context enables state leaders to explore how they might apply charter-style accountability to district-run schools. Could this change unify accountability systems and allow more autonomy for public schools?
Join us as AEI’s Andy Smarick presents his recent paper on the subject, and a panel, including former US Secretary of Education John King, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Senior Policy Adviser Christy Wolfe, Chris Barbic of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and DC Public Charter School Board Executive Director Scott Pearson, debates the work’s key points.
Join the conversation on social media with #UrbanAccountability.
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.
Nat Malkus, AEI
Andy Smarick, AEI
Chris Barbic, The Laura and John Arnold Foundation
John King Jr., The Education Trust
Scott Pearson, DC Public Charter School Board
Christy Wolfe, The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
Nat Malkus, AEI
Event Contact Information
For more information, please contact Kelsey Hamilton at [email protected], 202.862.5889.
Media Contact Information
For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829
Chris Barbic serves as a senior fellow at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. He began his career serving as a middle school teacher for six years in the Houston Independent School District. In 1998, he founded YES Prep Public Schools and led the organization for 13 years. YES Prep won the inaugural Broad Foundation Prize for the best charter management organization in the country in 2011. Mr. Barbic left YES Prep to serve as the founding superintendent of the Achievement School District (ASD), a statewide school district designed to transform Tennessee’s priority schools. Under his leadership, the ASD opened and authorized 33 schools; ASD schools grew faster than the state average in proficiency in math and science at a time when Tennessee was the fastest-improving state in the country; and by their second year of operation, ASD schools earned the highest value-added growth rating assigned by the state.
John King Jr. is the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that identifies and closes opportunity and achievement gaps from preschool to college. He served as the US secretary of education from 2016 to 2017. Before becoming secretary, Dr. King served at the Department of Education as deputy secretary and oversaw all preschool through 12th-grade education policies and programs and department operations. He joined the department following his tenure from 2011 to 2015 as the first African American and Puerto Rican to serve as New York State education commissioner. He began his career in education as a high school social studies teacher in Puerto Rico and Boston and as a middle school principal. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in government from Harvard University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and a master of arts in teaching social studies and a doctorate in education from Teachers College at Columbia University.
Nat Malkus is a research fellow in education policy studies at AEI, where he specializes in K–12 education. Specifically, he applies quantitative data to education policy. His work focuses on school finance, charter schools, school choice, and the future of standardized testing. Before joining AEI, he was a senior researcher at the American Institutes for Research, where he led research teams analyzing national education data on topics including how many college students take remedial courses, the comparisons between charter and traditional public schools, and tracking student achievement and graduation rates in schools undergoing turnaround reforms. Previously, Dr. Malkus worked on a four-year experimental study to evaluate whether math coaches could help math teachers improve student performance. He has also taught advanced graduate statistics courses and quantitative policy analysis to graduate students. Earlier, he spent four years as a middle school teacher in Maryland. He has a Ph.D. in education policy and leadership from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a B.A. in historical studies from Covenant College.
Scott Pearson is the executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB). Since joining DC PCSB in 2012, he has implemented significant reforms in how the board approves and oversees charter schools, making it a national model for charter school authorizing. Under his leadership, DC PCSB has pioneered new strategies, tough and rigorous oversight, and best practices that other authorizers around the nation are adopting. Previously, he served in the Obama administration as the associate assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Innovation and Improvement in the US Department of Education. He also cofounded Leadership Public Schools, a network of college-prep public charter high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. He also has a long career in business. At America Online, he was responsible for acquisitions and strategic planning as the company’s vice president for corporate development. At Bain and Company, he provided strategic management consulting services to clients in education, health care, media, and aviation. Mr. Pearson is also the board chair of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. He holds a bachelor of arts in history from Wesleyan University, a master’s in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a master’s in business administration from Harvard Business School.
Andy Smarick is a resident fellow at AEI, where he works on education and related domestic and social policy issues. Concurrently, he serves as president of the Maryland State Board of Education. Mr. Smarick started his career as a legislative aide in the Maryland General Assembly. He went on to serve as director of the Charter School Leadership Council, a nonprofit organization. He was also the cofounder and chief operating officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. He has served as a White House fellow in the Domestic Policy Council at the White House; a deputy assistant secretary of planning, evaluation, and policy development at the US Department of Education; and a distinguished visiting fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. He has also served as deputy commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education, where he helped lead initiatives on an Elementary and Secondary Education Act waiver, the state’s successful Race to the Top application, the launch of a new teacher evaluation system, and an overhaul of the department’s charter school authorization system. Immediately before rejoining AEI, where he served as an adjunct fellow in 2010, Mr. Smarick was a partner at Bellwether Education Partners, where he worked on a variety of projects, including school accountability, rural education, gifted student programs, and the reform of urban school systems. He is the author of “The Urban School System of the Future” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012). His writings have appeared in Bloomberg View, National Affairs, National Review, Time, The Weekly Standard, and Education Next, among others. A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, Mr. Smarick has a master’s of public management degree from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy.
Christy Wolfe is the senior policy adviser for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. She has more than 20 years of experience working on federal education policy. Before joining the National Alliance, she worked as an independent consultant, supporting Race to the Top implementation of school turnaround initiatives and developing policy and writing for national education reform organizations. Ms. Wolfe spent eight years at the US Department of Education, serving as the associate deputy secretary for policy. In this role, she managed policy development and implemented regulations for all federal elementary, secondary, and special education programs. Ms. Wolfe was also a professional staff member for the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and the Workforce, where she worked on major education legislation, including the No Child Left Behind Act. She visited her first charter school in 1998 as a congressional staffer and has been a strong advocate of charter schools ever since.