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About the Conference Organizers

We wish to thank the Magnet Schools of America, the Connecticut State Department of Education, the Neag School of Education, and the University of Connecticut Vice Provost for Research and Graduation for providing resources to support the conference.


Courtney Bell

Courtney Bell is currently an Assistant Professor in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. She received her Bachelors in Chemistry from Dartmouth College and her Doctorate in Curriculum, Teaching, and Educational Policy from Michigan State University. She is a former member of Teach for America and taught high school biology, chemistry, and physics in rural North Carolina. Dr. Bell specializes in thinking about the intersections of policy and practice. She has explored these intersections in analyses of school choice, state policy, multicultural education, and teacher learning. Dr. Bell’s work on school choice has focused on urban parents’ preferences, decision making processes and the effects of magnet schools on student achievement and students’ racial attitudes. Dr. Bell’s work has won awards including, a Spencer Dissertation Fellowship and the AERA, Division L - Dissertation of the Year award. Dr. Bell is currently on research leave to the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for work on measuring "messy" constructs.

Robert Bifulco

Robert Bifulco has a Ph.D. in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. Dr. Bifulco is currently on faculty in the University of Connecticut’s Department of Public Policy where he teaches classes in education policy, state and local government finance, program evaluation and policy analysis. Before coming to the University of Connecticut, Dr. Bifulco held a post-doc position at Duke University’s Sanford Institute of Public Policy. He has also worked as a program analyst in the New York State Education Department, where he help formulated regulations governing the state’s low-performing schools program. He has published research articles on the measurement of school performance, whole-school reform, racial disparities in access to educational resources and charter schools in several peer reviewed journals including The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Evaluation Review, and Education Finance and Policy. His current recent research is focused on the effects of school choice on student segregation and the effects of segregation and student outcomes. Dr. Bifulco is an active member of the American Education Finance Association and the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Robert G. Brooks

Robert G. Brooks is the Executive Director for Magnet Schools of America located in Washington, D.C. He is a Past President of Magnet Schools of America (1998-2000) and served as the Association’s first Secretary-Treasurer when the organization became incorporated. Dr. Brooks is a former Director of Magnet Schools/Programs and Gifted and Talented Education for the Providence School District in Providence, Rhode Island where he developed magnet programs at the elementary, middle, and high schools levels and successfully won five (5) MSAP grants for the district. Dr. Brooks also served as a successful private MSAP grant consultant as a principal writer, editor, and evaluator winning several millions of dollars for local school districts. Dr. Brooks is an author/editor of: Definitive Studies of Magnet Schools: Voices of Public School Choice (1999); Editor, Blueprint for Understanding and Operating Successful Magnet and Theme-Based Schools (2000); Author, Blueprint for Understanding and Operating Successful Magnet and Theme-Based Schools, 2nd Edition: Voluntary Public School Choice (2004); and Editor, Magnet Schools of America’s quarterly newsletter, Choice.

Casey Cobb

Casey Cobb is an Associate Professor of Education Policy and Director of the Center for Education Policy Analysis at the Neag School of Education. He received his AB in Economics at Harvard University and his PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Arizona State University. His current research interests include policies on school choice, accountability, and bilingual education, where he examines the implications for equity and educational opportunity. He has studied school choice and segregation extensively, and is currently Principal Investigator of grant to study interdistrict magnet schools, charter schools, and a student transfer program in urban Connecticut. Dr. Cobb is co-author of Leading dynamic schools: How to create and implement ethical policies (Corwin Press) and Fundamentals of statistical reasoning in education (Wiley/Jossey Bass). He has published his research in journals such as Education Policy Analysis Archives, Educational Policy, and Education & Urban Society. Dr. Cobb is a past President of the New England Educational Research Organization.

William Magnotta

William Magnotta has been with the Connecticut State Department of Education for over 35 years. His responsibilities have included grants management, systems development and information systems implementation. For the past 12 years he has been a program manager for Connecticut’s interdistrict magnet schools and interdistrict cooperative grant programs. His responsibilities include the development of new magnet schools, monitoring of state funded interdistrict magnet schools and providing technical assistance to school district administrators and school personnel. He is a member of the executive board for the Connecticut Chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education and is currently the Treasurer for Magnet Schools of America. Mr. Magnotta is active planning and presenting regional multicultural activities, workshops and conferences and has presented at regional and national magnet school conferences. Mr. Magnotta holds an Associate degree in accounting from Manchester Community College, a Bachelors degree in accounting from Central Connecticut State University and a Master degree in Management and Organization from Central Connecticut State University.