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Kevin Welner
Professor Kevin Welner is director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. He is interested in understanding how high-quality research is (and is not) used in policymaking. He also studies school reform, education rights litigation, and research about educational opportunity. He has authored or edited nine books and more than 80 articles and book chapters. His most recent books are Closing the Opportunity Gap: What America Must Do to Give Every Child an Even Chance, Think Tank Research Quality: Lessons for Policymakers, the Media, and the Public and Exploring the School Choice Universe: Evidence and Recommendations.

Entries by Kevin Welner

Big News or Flawed Research? The New Special Education Controversy

(2) Comments | Posted July 2, 2015 | 10:05 PM

Note: Indiana University Prof. Russell Skiba co-authored this piece, along with Kevin Welner.

Science is additive. Even the most startling new discoveries are built upon years of research findings reported by others. Sir Isaac Newton said he saw further because he stood on the shoulders of giants.

So researchers are...

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A Path Beyond the Opt-Out Movement

(0) Comments | Posted November 21, 2014 | 3:40 PM

A growing number of parents are opting their children out of state testing. This is in large part a protest against the continued escalation of the standardized testing needed to ground the corresponding escalation of accountability policies. If politicians are to hold teachers and principals accountable for students' test scores,...

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But Aren't California's Tenure Policies Unreasonable? Answering Vergara Questions

(7) Comments | Posted June 19, 2014 | 9:27 AM

Students Matter, the group that organized and funded the Vergara litigation, wants us to shift our reform attention to teacher tenure. The litigation is the centerpiece of a larger campaign to challenge "the laws handcuffing schools from doing what's best for kids when it comes to teachers."

I did not...

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The Vergara Decision May Have a Silver Lining

(0) Comments | Posted June 12, 2014 | 2:37 PM

The decision in the Vergara case was issued Tuesday by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, who agreed with the plaintiffs' constitutional challenge to several state statutes that provide job protections to teachers, particularly to teachers with greater seniority. The judge enjoined (prohibited) the enforcement of the statutes and then...

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Poverty and the Education Opportunity Gap: Will the SOTU Step Up?

(2) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 10:54 AM

Tuesday's State of the Union address will apparently focus on issues of wealth inequality in the United States. The impact of poverty is extremely important for issues such as housing, nutrition, health and safety. Additionally, education researchers like me have been hollering from the rooftops, hoping policymakers and others will...

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The Folly of a Preemptive & Deceptive Attack on Diane Ravitch's New Book

(8) Comments | Posted August 19, 2013 | 10:09 AM

Writing here in The Huffington Post, the former press secretary for Education Secretary Arne Duncan launched a pre-emptive attack on the forthcoming book from Diane Ravitch -- a book he hasn't read. One particular part of that post caught my eye.

The author, Peter Cunningham, first chastises Ravitch...

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Courts and (Neo)Vouchers: When (if Ever) Should We Be Surprised?

(8) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 11:39 AM

Last week, I wrote a brief post here and on the Washington Post's "AnswerSheet" blog about a recent court decision in New Hampshire striking down a law that provided funding to private religious schools through an approach that I call a "neovoucher," which is...

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When (Neo)Voucher Advocates Lose

(0) Comments | Posted June 21, 2013 | 12:56 PM

If I wrote a crappy screenplay, I probably shouldn't then complain about how awful the play is as I watched the actors reciting their lines.

So I was amused to see advocates complaining about how a judge in New Hampshire on Monday struck down that state's...

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Electoral College Shenanigans: One Possible Response

(8) Comments | Posted February 5, 2013 | 2:47 PM

"The Secretary of the Writers' Union

had flyers distributed on Stalin Boulevard
Saying the people had frivolously
Thrown away the government's confidence
And that they could only regain it
Through redoubled work.
But wouldn't it be simpler
If the government simply dissolved the...

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Rethink School Choice

(3) Comments | Posted December 11, 2012 | 5:47 PM

If I told you, "I favor school choice," what might I actually mean? Perhaps I'm a libertarian, so I favor choice because I place an extreme value on individual freedom. Or perhaps I believe in the invisible hand of the free market or I buy into certain assumptions about the...

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A Modest Hurricane Proposal for Honoring Climate Change Deniers

(81) Comments | Posted October 29, 2012 | 8:29 AM

For almost 70 years, we have given tropical cyclones names. We now, for example, are focused on Hurricane Sandy. The "S" in Sandy means that this is the 18th tropical storm of the season. Next year, the first ten will be named Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto,...

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The Lesson of the Cupcakes: Fix Schools by Resisting Gimmicks and Heeding Evidence

(23) Comments | Posted April 26, 2012 | 10:46 AM

An early episode of The Simpsons had Lisa carrying out a science fair experiment called "Is my brother dumber than a hamster?" She rigged up parallel enticements for each. The hamster reaches for a pellet, gets a shock, and learns to avoid the pellet. Bart grabs at a cupcake, is...

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Teacher Job Satisfaction Plummets (Perhaps Teacher-Bashing Isn't Productive)

(16) Comments | Posted March 7, 2012 | 10:35 AM

It's not fun to be repeatedly punched in the gut. And we can now quantify how not-fun it is, at least when teachers are the punchees.

Over the past two years of gut-punching, teacher job satisfaction has fallen from 59 percent to 44 percent. That's according to the annual

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Pundits, Researchers, and Reporters: Education Media and the Search for Expertise

(7) Comments | Posted January 24, 2012 | 10:58 AM

On October 13, 2011, Rick Hess, the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, published a list on his blog of "about two dozen Republican and/or conservative (and/or libertarian) edu-thinkers that enterprising reporters might tap for expertise when writing about GOP policy proposals or the...

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New York's Rebellious School Principals

(8) Comments | Posted November 10, 2011 | 11:49 AM

Principal Skinner may cower in the face of authority, but his counterparts on Long Island have not hesitated to take a stand against policymakers pushing a wrongheaded agenda.

Head over to and see what I mean. And read the front-page article in Newsday. When confronted...

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Letter to Arne Duncan

(5) Comments | Posted July 29, 2011 | 3:30 PM

A few days ago, Carol Burris and I sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The letter was invited by Secretary Duncan during a phone conversation with Dr. Burris.

Our letter is summarized briefly below, with the full text of the letter available on...

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'The Acquisition of 16,905 Students'

(39) Comments | Posted June 9, 2011 | 1:26 PM

Prior to my career in academia, I practiced law. I took my first job back in 1988 during a boom in so-called mergers and acquisitions. There were lots or reasons bandied about for why one corporation would benefit from acquiring another, but one frequent reason for "M&A" was the coveting...

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Mold, Cancer, Viruses and... Walmart?

(11) Comments | Posted May 9, 2011 | 4:06 PM

When people become so convinced their perspective is unimpeachable, they do and say some pretty funny things. A recent example was Rep. Denny Rehberg, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the open U.S. Senate seat in Montana. He recently tried to convince a town hall audience in Missoula that...

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Tough Times at the L.A. Times: Standing Behind Incorrect Teacher Ratings

(27) Comments | Posted February 28, 2011 | 3:43 PM

The newspaper business can't be much fun these days. Editors and reporters are desperate to find ways to hold on to readers. Such desperation, however, can never justify misleading readers, publishing factual errors, and then doubling-down on those mistakes when confronted with the truth. Yet that's where the Los Angeles...

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Philanthropies and Education: Breaking the Cycle of Systemic Inequity

(19) Comments | Posted December 17, 2010 | 2:37 PM

I teach at a public university, which pretty much guarantees that I'll never be a major philanthropist. But the main beneficiary of my largess -- such as it is -- is my local homeless shelter. It's well-run, and it really does excellent work. But it does almost nothing to help...

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