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Event Summary

Although education was not the most salient issue of the 2012 US election season, a panel of education experts unveiled the issue’s growing significance at an AEI event on Thursday. AEI’s own Andrew Kelly began by asking what America’s largely status-quo election results mean for education.

Panelists agreed that Indiana State Superintendent Tony Bennett’s defeat was the most surprising outcome for education. AEI’s Rick Hess noted that the incumbent Republican’s loss is a foreboding trend on the national education horizon, one that indicates both union strength and a frustration with the highly partisan nature of the Common Core State Standards.

Panelists expressed a less-unified response to the next four years of education policy. Kristen Soltis of the Winston Group emphasized that the Obama administration must shift public opinion about education policies such as teacher pay, teacher evaluation, the Common Core, and class sizes to make progress in education reform and improve student outcomes.

Andy Rotherham of Bellwether Education Partners predicted that both Republicans and Democrats will experience increasing intra-party opposition regarding education reforms. This is hugely problematic for the president and hinders policymakers’ ability to effectively reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Despite the increasing importance of education among voters, it remains to be seen which education reforms will prevail over the course of the next four years.

–Lauren Blair Aronson and Chelsea Straus

Event Description

Over the past four years, President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have touted a more expansive federal role in education, offering states waivers from No Child Left Behind Act sanctions and championing common standards, more rigorous teacher evaluation, higher education transparency and aggressive interventions for low-performing schools. During a time of tight budgets and fierce debates over the Common Core State Standards, student loans, gainful employment and reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the results of the federal and congressional elections will likely have a huge impact on the state of American schools and colleges moving forward.

Join us at AEI for a balanced discussion of what the 2012 election results will mean for the potential reauthorization of the ESEA, federal education spending, state and local issues and other pressing concerns.


8:45 AM
Registration and Breakfast

9:00 AM
Katherine Haley, Office of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)
Frederick M. Hess, AEI
Alyson Klein, Education Week
Massie Ritsch, US Department of Education
Andy Rotherham, Bellwether Education Partners
Kristen Soltis Anderson, The Winston Group

Andrew P. Kelly, AEI

10:30 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Lauren Aronson at [email protected], 202.862.5904

Media Contact Information

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

Speaker Biographies

Katherine Haley serves as the assistant to Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio) for policy, handling education, workforce, welfare, and social issues. She is responsible for developing policy and coordinating strategies for Republican members of Congress and their staff on behalf of Rep. Boehner. She previously worked in the offices of US Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and US Senators Don Nickles (R-Okla.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), as well as for the Senate Select Committee on Aging and the Subcommittee on Health within the House Committee on Ways and Means. Haley conducted clinical cancer research at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University and was awarded a research fellowship at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School to further examine faith and medicine.

Frederick M. Hess is resident scholar and director of education policy studies at AEI. He has authored influential books on education including “The Same Thing Over and Over” (Harvard University Press, 2010), “Education Unbound” (ASCD, 2010), “Common Sense School Reform” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), “Revolution at the Margins” (Brookings Institution Press, 2002), and “Spinning Wheels” (Brookings Institution Press, 1998) and pens the Education Week blog Rick Hess Straight Up. His work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets such as Teachers College Record, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, American Politics Quarterly, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, the New York Times, and National Review. He has edited widely cited volumes on education philanthropy, stretching the education dollar, the impact of education research, education entrepreneurship, and the No Child Left Behind Act. He serves as executive editor of Education Next; as the lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program; on the review board for the Broad Prize in Urban Education; and on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, 4.0 Schools, and the American Board for the Certification of Teaching Excellence. A former high school social studies teacher, he has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University, and Harvard University.

Andrew P. Kelly is a research fellow in education policy studies at AEI. His research focuses on higher education policy, innovation in education, the politics of education reform, and consumer choice in education. Previously, he was a research assistant at AEI, where his work focused on the preparation of school leaders, collective bargaining in public schools, and the politics of education. His research has appeared in Teachers College Record, Educational Policy, Policy Studies Journal, Education Next, and Education Week, as well as popular outlets such as Inside Higher Ed, Forbes, The Atlantic, National Review, and the Huffington Post. He is co-editor of “Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit: Lessons from A Half-Century of Federal Efforts to Improve America’s Schools” (Harvard Education Press, 2011) and “Reinventing Higher Education: The Promise of Innovation” (Harvard Education Press, 2011), as well as the upcoming “Getting to Graduation: The Completion Agenda in Higher Education” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012). In 2011, Kelly was named one of sixteen “Next Generation Leaders” in education policy by Education Week’s Policy Notebook blog.

Alyson Klein is a reporter for Education Week. She covers federal policy and Congress and reports on stimulus programs and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, focusing on the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, and Mississippi. She is also the co-author of the popular Education Week blog Politics K–12.

Massie Ritsch is the deputy assistant secretary for external affairs and outreach at the US Department of Education. In his role, he oversees outreach to education associations, foundations, and think tanks. He previously worked as communications director at the Center for Responsive Politics, where he served as chief strategist for the organization and, among other duties, oversaw the organization’s award-winning website Ritsch also served as vice president of the Sugerman Communications Group in Los Angeles, where he helped salvage public funds for a consortium of innovative schools chartered by the Los Angeles Board of Education, as well as garner support for a universal preschool initiative. Before his time at Sugerman, Ritsch covered local education issues and the 2000 presidential campaign for the Los Angeles Times.

Andy Rotherham is a co-founder and partner at Bellwether Education, a nonprofit organization working to improve educational outcomes for low-income students. Rotherham leads Bellwether’s thought leadership, idea generation, and policy analysis work. He also writes the weekly “School of Thought” column for as well as the blog, and is the co-publisher of Education Insider, a federal policy research tool produced by Whiteboard Advisors. Rotherham previously served at the White House as special assistant to the president for domestic policy during the Clinton administration, and he is a former member of the Virginia Board of Education. Rotherham founded or co-founded two other influential education reform organizations and served on the boards of several other successful education startups. Rotherham is the author or co-author of more than 140 published articles, book chapters, papers, and op-eds about education policy and politics and is the author or editor of four books on education policy. He serves on the board of directors for the Indianapolis Mind Trust and the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia as well as the visiting committee for the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Kristen Soltis Anderson is the vice president at the Winston Group, a Washington, DC-based strategy and message design firm. Anderson’s research primarily focuses on election trends, young voters, political parties, and education policy. Anderson is a contributor at The Huffington Post, The Daily Caller,, and POLITICO Arena, and has also written for National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, the American Spectator, POLITICO, the Next Right, and the Orlando Sentinel. She has appeared internationally on networks including RT, BBC Radio, and Ireland’s RTE. Additionally, she is the host of online political talk show “The Right Idea.”

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