Illustration by James Bravo
Not so long ago, it was awfully lonely advocating for enhancing the role of evidence in educational policy. I'm delighted to see that this is changing, and new allies are taking up the cause. I've written before about Results for America, the new efforts supported by the Arnold Foundation, and other developments that are moving forward evidence-based education, including support from OMB and from the Knowledge Alliance.
Now there is yet another force for evidence-based policy in education, and it is from my own university, Johns Hopkins. The Johns Hopkins University School of Education has just announced a new policy center, to be led by David Steiner, who previously was the dean at the School of Education at Hunter College and, before that, Commissioner of Education for the state of New York. David is joined by a Hunter colleague, Ashley Berner. They hope to create a policy center that is non-partisan and committed to supporting evidence in education. Because of his background, David is particularly interested in mobilizing state superintendents and other education leaders beyond the one-mile radius of Congress and the White House, where evidence-based reform has had its main impact so far.
The union of David and Ashley with the Johns Hopkins School of Education has extraordinary potential. They bring deep experience in educational leadership and policy to a School of Education that already has a lot going in in that arena. Beyond our own efforts at the Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE), there is Bob Balfanz and his colleagues at the Center for Social Organization of Schools. Our dean, David Andrews, is very committed to making an impact in national policy. Besides, we are in Baltimore, a one-hour train trip from Capitol Hill that costs $7 each way.
There is a lot to do to move education policy toward a strong evidence base, and the movement, such as it is, needs all the help it can get. ESEA is up for reauthorization, and maybe this time we can get evidence to be central to competitive programs and perhaps even formula programs, such as Title I. This is an exciting time for evidence-based policy, and all of us involved in it should welcome David and Ashley to our ranks!