What We Do

Education Reform Now is an action tank that aims to: (1) reorient education policy as a content as opposed to time or place based right for students and teachers; (2) ensure consistent and mutually reinforcing policies at elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels; and (3) promote new methods of content delivery and tools of influence on teaching and learning. Americans of all ages – from cradle to grave – deserve full and fair access to quality education opportunities.

New Policy Solutions

For too long, the effort to close race-based, socioeconomic, and international achievement gaps has been held hostage to partisan, constituency-based politics. Too many Democrats kowtow to special interests rather than prioritizing needy children and families. Too many Republicans embrace little more than union busting and government bashing. To overcome these challenges, Education Reform Now aims to offer bold and innovative solutions in six key areas:

Human Capital. Teacher quality is the number one school-based influence on student success. Yet the teacher quality debate is stale on the K-12 level and ignored at the higher education level. Education Reform Now challenges those who would double down on more of the same by promoting innovation in and modernization of K-12 and higher education teacher preparation, credentialing, retention, pay, and placement policies.

Consumer Choice. Education Reform Now will examine what works in public school governance and management with a focus on systems that reconfigure the notion of a traditional school district. We will analyze innovative approaches such the NYC Chancellor’s District and Tennessee Achievement School District that break through artificial geographic boundaries. And we’ll examine under-researched models of inter-district choice — both those involving traditional schools (New Jersey) and those that use charters for the same purpose (Rhode Island).

Resource Equity. Mississippi’s average per pupil expenditure is $7,890 per year while New Jersey’s is $17,620, a disparity reflected across the nation. There is a ceiling, however, on what can be achieved through traditional approaches to resource re-allocation. Education Reform Now will analyze, develop, and promote new policy levers to support heightened education investment and equity within and among districts nationwide.

Student Motivation. Higher standards, better-trained teachers, and added resources have little impact if students are not motivated to ensure their own academic success. Facilitating heightened levels of student engagement can take a variety of forms (e.g. efforts to increase grit; improved extracurricular services; new and more relevant curricula; college savings accounts; promise programs). We’ll analyze existing policies and develop new ideas to inspire students to study hard and achieve better results.

Fast-Track Advancement. In a common core world, progression by grade need not be predicated on age. Tailored instruction to individual student needs can speed attainment, better align education with college and employer demands, and yield substantial savings. We’ll study personalized learning, competency-based education, direct assessment, early college high schools and dual enrollment to identify policies that heighten educational achievement and save parents and taxpayers money at the same time.

Higher Ed Affordability and Accountability. Financial aid programs are inadequate, inequitable, and inefficient in meeting college access, affordability, and success challenges. Education Reform Now will advance a redesign of how critical actors – federal, state, local, and family actors – finance higher education. We’ll develop policies that provide middle-class and low-income students with a college affordability guarantee; incentivize restrained price growth, and hold all actors accountable for results, including student-learning outcomes.

Public Education, Proof Points, & Movement Building

Education Reform Now publishes original research, white papers, and issue briefs analyzing trends and exploring new, forward-leaning ideas in education. We help shape the education policy narrative through mass media. We publish magazine articles, op-eds, and blog posts, as well as advise state and local officials and community-based organizations on specific education policy efforts. Crucially, we provide technical assistance in drafting legislation at the federal, state, and local levels and help advocates strategize paths to enactment. Each year we convene Camp Philos, an array of lawmakers, academics, community leaders, and others to exchange education reform ideas and lessons learned. In short, we’re developing the next generation of education equity ideas and leaders.