American Public Opinion on K-12 Education Policy: Lessons from a decade of polling




Sept. 16, 2016, 8:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Hoover Institution in Washington, D.C., The Johnson Center
1399 New York Avenue NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005

This year Education Next celebrates the tenth anniversary of its annual survey of public opinion on K-12 education policy. This year’s results from the 2016 survey are discussed in a report that includes analysis of ten-year trends in public opinion on the most important issues in education reform. Coinciding with this special release, EdNext will host an event in Washington, D.C., to discuss the findings on key issues in more depth.

8:45 AM – Welcome and Keynote Address

Paul E. Peterson, Harvard University; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Michael Barone, American Enterprise Institute, Washington Examiner

9:30 AM – Panel I: Accountability and Teacher Policy

Chair: Matthew Chingos, Urban Institute

• Martin R. West, Harvard Graduate School of Education
• Michael J. Petrilli, Thomas B. Fordham Institute; Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution
• Celine Coggins, Teach Plus
• Mary Cathryn Ricker, American Federation of Teachers

10:45 AM – Panel II: School Choice

Chair: Amber M. Northern, Thomas B. Fordham Institute

• Paul E. Peterson, Harvard University; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
• Nina Rees, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
• Shavar Jeffries, Democrats for Education Reform
• Neal McCluskey, Cato Institute

Follow the event discussion on Twitter with @EducationNext using the hashtag #ENPoll.

For more on the annual Education Next-PEPG poll, visit

This event is sponsored by Education Next in cooperation with the Hoover Institution in Washington, D.C., the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance, and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

For inquires about the event, please contact Jackie Kerstetter at or (814) 440-2299.


Paul E. Peterson
Paul Peterson is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government in the Department of Government at Harvard University. He directs the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance, is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and is senior editor of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education, he is an author or editor of over 30 books, four of which have been identified as the best work in its field by the American Political Science Association.
Michael Barone
Michael Barone is Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. A political analyst and journalist, he studies politics, American government, and campaigns and elections. The principal coauthor of the annual Almanac of American Politics (National Journal Group), he has written many books on American politics and history. Barone is also a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner.
Matthew Chingos
Matthew Chingos is a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, where he studies education-related topics at both the K–12 and postsecondary levels. Chingos’s areas of expertise include class-size reduction, standardized testing, teacher quality, student loan debt, and college graduation rates. His current research examines the long-term effects of school choice policies, student transportation, and college living costs.
Martin R. West
Martin West is associate professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is also deputy director of Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and editor-in-chief of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research. He received his Ph.D. in Government and Social Policy from Harvard University and his M.Phil in Economic and Social History from Oxford University. In 2013-14, West worked as senior education policy advisor to the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Michael J. Petrilli
Michael Petrilli is an award-winning writer and president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, one of the country’s leading education-policy think tanks. He is the author of The Diverse Schools Dilemma: A Parent’s Guide to Socioeconomically Mixed Public Schools, and co-editor of Knowledge at the Core: Don Hirsch, Core Knowledge, and the Future of the Common Core. Petrilli is also a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and executive editor of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research.
Celine Coggins
Dr. Celine Coggins founded Teach Plus in 2007 to create policy and practice leadership paths for excellent teachers. Celine started her career as a classroom teacher in Worcester, Massachusetts and went on to become a special assistant to the Massachusetts Commissioner of Education, working on a set of initiatives to improve the quality of the state’s teaching force. Under Celine’s leadership, Teach Plus has grown from a small group of teachers in Massachusetts to a national network of more 22,000 teachers nationwide.  Celine holds a BA in psychology from the College of Holy Cross, an MA in educational research and measurement from Boston College, and a PhD in education policy analysis from Stanford University.
Mary Cathryn Ricker
Mary Cathryn Ricker was elected executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers in July 2014 and re-elected in 2016. Ricker served as president of the Saint Paul (Minn.) Federation of Teachers from 2005 to 2014, as an AFT vice president since 2012, and a member of the AFT K-12 Teachers program and policy council 2006-14. A native of Hibbing, Minn., Ricker has taught in classrooms in St. Cloud and Saint Paul, Minn.; Camas, Wash.; and Seoul, South Korea. In addition to being a National Board Certified middle school English teacher, Ricker also serves on the boards of NBPTS and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Amber M. Northern
Amber Northern is senior vice president for research at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, where she supervises the Institute’s studies and research staff. She has published in the areas of educational accountability, principal leadership, teacher quality, and academic standards, among others. Prior to joining Fordham, she served as senior study director at Westat. In that role, she provided evaluation services for various federal, state, and local education agencies, as well as oversaw multiple research studies involving reading instruction, math and science partnerships, performance-based pay, and more. Her work and commentary has been featured in various print and broadcast media, including Fox News, HuffPost Live, NPR, National Review, and Education Next. Northern serves on the Board of Trustees for Somerset Prep, a charter school in Washington, D.C. She holds a Ph.D. in education policy and evaluation from the University of Virginia, and a M.S. in secondary education from Old Dominion University. She started her career as a high school teacher.
Nina Rees
Nina Rees is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. Rees has over 20 years of experience in Washington, D.C., most recently as Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for Knowledge Universe, a leading global education company with investments in early childhood education, before- and after-school programs and online instruction. Prior to her tenure at KU, she served as the first Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. 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, alternative routes to teacher certification and school leadership. She also helped coordinate the implementation of several provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Prior to joining the Education Department, Rees served as Deputy Assistant for Domestic Policy to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Shavar Jeffries
Shavar Jeffries serves as President of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). Jeffries brings a personal commitment to ensuring that a child’s zip code does not define their destiny. After receiving scholarships to Seton Hall Preparatory School, Duke, and Columbia Law School, Shavar moved back to Newark with the firm belief that his path to success—through high-quality education—should not be the outlier for students in Newark, but rather the rule. Prior to joining DFER, Shavar was an Associate Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School’s Center for Social Justice in Newark, New Jersey, where he ran a litigation clinic focused on class action litigation and advocacy. From his efforts fighting for fair funding practices to get schools the resources they deserved to his service leading the New Jersey Attorney General’s Juvenile Justice and Civil Rights Departments, Shavar has been a vocal advocate for social justice. At Gibbons PC; Wilme, Cutler & Pickering; and NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Shavar honed his expertise in progressive legal battles. Jeffries has been a fierce advocate for families seeking fair practices in funding education and ensuring that the laws governing education systems help students, rather than trapping them in failing schools.
Neal McCluskey
Neal McCluskey is the director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom. McCluskey is the author of the book Feds in the Classroom: How Big Government Corrupts, Cripples, and Compromises American Education, and his writings have appeared in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Forbes. McCluskey holds an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, where he double-majored in government and English, has a master’s degree in political science from Rutgers University, and has a PhD in public policy from George Mason University.


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