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Speakers

Dale Ballou

Dr. Ballou earned a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University in 1989. From 1989 to 2002 he taught in the Department of Economics at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. In 2002 he joined the faculty of the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations at Vanderbilt University. He has done research on the role of regulations and incentives in the training, recruitment, and retention of teachers. His book, Teacher Pay and Teacher Quality, co-authored with Michael Podgursky, was published by the Upjohn Institute in 1997. Professor Ballou's recent research focuses on educational assessment and accountability systems. He is also playing a leading role in the design and evaluation of the Nashville teacher performance incentive experiment.

Courtney Bell

Dr. Bell 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.

Julian Betts

Much of Dr. Betts’ research has focused on the economic analysis of education. He has written extensively on the link between student outcomes and measures of public school spending including class size, teachers' salaries, and teachers' level of education. More recently, he has examined the role that standards and expectations play in student achievement. Examples of his work include a theoretical analysis of the impact of educational standards published in the American Economic Review, and the book Getting Choice Right: Ensuring Equity and Efficiency in Education Policy co-edited with Tom Loveless. Betts obtained a Bachelor's degree in chemistry from McGill University, the M.Phil. in economics from Oxford University, and a Ph.D. in economics from Queen's University, Ontario.

Robert Bifulco

Dr. Bifulco holds a Ph.D. in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. 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 helped formulate 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. His current recent research is focused on the effects of school choice on student segregation and the effects of segregation and student outcomes.

John Brittain

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a public interest organization that enlists private lawyers to take pro bono civil rights cases. Brittain, a former law school dean, law professor and public interest civil rights lawyer with a career spanning 37 years in 4 states, has served as the president of the National Lawyers' Guild, on the Executive Committee and the Board of the ACLU, and legal counsel to NAACP local branches, state conference and office of the General Counsel. He is a school desegregation specialist, one of the lead counsel in Sheff v. O'Neill, a landmark case decided by the Connecticut Supreme Court, and part of the legal team that filed in friend of the court brief in two school cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court (2007) concerning voluntary race-conscious student assignment plans.

Eric Brunner

Eric Brunner is an associate professor of economics at Quinnipiac University. His research interest include several areas in public economics, including the voluntary provision of public goods, financing K-12 education, the intended and unintended consequences of school finance reform, the political economy of school spending, and the economics of school choice. He was previously an associate professor of economics at San Diego State University. He holds a B.A. from the University of Connecticut and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Rajashri Chakrabarti

An economist in the Microeconomic and Regional Studies Function, Dr. Chakrabarti’s primary areas of interest include public economics and public policy, economics of education and labor economics. Her current research focuses on school choice, accountability, implications of the No Child Left Behind law, political economy implications of reorganization of nations, and issues in higher education such as merit aid and early admissions to U.S colleges. In recent work, she has examined the effect of alternative voucher designs on public school incentives and performance, and student sorting. Prior to joining the NY Fed, Raji was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in the John F. Kennedy School of Government's Program on Education Policy and Governance. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Cornell University.

George Coleman

Deputy Commissioner of Education since May, 2007, Interim Commissioner of Education from August, 2006, to April, 2007, and Associate Commissioner of the Division of Teaching and Learning Programs and Services for nine years, Mr. Coleman also served as Chief of the Bureau of Curriculum and Instruction and Chief of the Bureau of Early Childhood Education and Social Services, after joining the State Department of Education in 1987 as an education consultant in kindergarten and the primary grades. Mr. Coleman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in history from Tuskegee Institute and graduate degrees in early childhood education and curriculum and instruction from Teacher’s College at Columbia University. He has taught courses in early childhood education and history at Tufts University, Western Connecticut State University and the University of New Haven. He has authored a number of publications and he serves on numerous professional and community boards and councils.

Jack Dougherty

Dr. Dougherty’s teaching and research focuses on the connections between educational history, policy, and practice. Jack’s prize-winning book, More Than One Struggle: The Evolution of Black School Reform in Milwaukee, explored how three generations of civil rights activism changed from the 1930s to the present in the urban Midwest. Currently, he and his undergraduate students are working on the Cities, Suburbs, and Schools Research Project, to investigate how private real estate markets and public school politics shaped metropolitan Hartford during the twentieth century.

Justine Hastings

Dr. Hasting’s primary research interests fall in the fields of applied Industrial Organization and Public Economics. She examines consumer behavior and how it interacts with firm strategy and regulation to shape market outcomes in private and publicly funded markets. Research topics include how parents choose schools and the ramifications for public school choice, how workers make retirement investments and the implications for social security privatization, the impact of income shocks on consumption, and the importance of information and decision making costs among low-income households. Her research employs diverse empirical techniques from field experiments to structural estimation to examine policy-relevant questions in economics.

Luis Huerta

Dr. Huerta holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. His research and scholarship over the last ten years have focused on school choice reforms and school finance policy. His research on school choice reforms examines policies that advance both decentralized and market models of schooling—including charter schools, home schools, tuition tax credits and vouchers. His research also examines school finance policy and research, with a specific focus on how legal and legislative battles over finance equity in schools and the research which has analyzed the effects of resources on student achievement, have consistently overlooked how resources are used within schools. His research applies theory grounded in organizational sociology and economics together with policy analysis frameworks, and aims to discover how these school reforms affect equity and quality in schools.

Christopher Lubienski

Dr. Lubienski’s research focuses on education policy, reform, and the political economy of education, with a particular concern for issues of equity and access. His current work examines organizational responses to competitive conditions in local education markets. After earning a PhD in education policy and social analysis at Michigan State University, Lubienski held post-doctoral fellowships with the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation and with Brown University. He has published theoretical and empirical papers on questions of innovation and (with Sarah Theule Lubienski) achievement in school choice systems. He is currently using geo-spatial analyses to examine charter schools in post-Katrina New Orleans, and (with Sarah) is completing a longitudinal, value-added analysis of a nationally representative set of public and private schools.

Salvatore Saporito

Salvatore Saporito received his Ph.D. in sociology from Temple University in 1999. His current research investigates how family choices for magnet and private schools affects racial segregation and economic stratification in traditional, neighborhood-based public schools. His work shows how race-based educational choices by middle-class and white families further concentrates poverty in public school for poor children and students of color. This work has been supported by the American Educational Research Association, the National Academy of Education, and the Spencer Foundation and his manuscripts have appeared in journals such as Social Forces, Social Problems, Sociology of Education and Social Science Research.

Janelle Scott

A former urban elementary school teacher, Scott earned a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of California, Los Angeles’ Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Scott's research focuses upon the politics of educational policies and their impacts on urban schools and communities of color. Research interests include school choice, desegregation, privatization, and political ideology. She is the editor of School Choice and Diversity: What the Evidence Says.

Claire Smrekar

Claire Smrekar received her doctorate in Educational Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford University in 1991. Dr. Smrekar conducts qualitative research studies related to the social context of education and public policy, with specific reference to the impact of social class structures on family-school-community interactions, social capital development, and social networks in traditional public, private, and choice schools. Her current research involves a study of school and neighborhood effects associated with school choice and race-neutral student assignment plans. A Nashville-based pilot project currently underway focuses upon the intersection of public housing reform and neighborhood schools. Professor Smrekar is the author of two books: The Impact of School Choice and Community: In the Interest of Families and Schools (1996), and School Choice in Urban America: Magnet Schools and the Pursuit of Equity, (1999). Dr. Smrekar was a member of the technical work group for the national evaluation study (released January, 2004) of the Magnet Schools Assistance Program, U.S. Department of Education.

Maree Sneed

Ms. Sneed’s practice involves advising school districts, educational associations, and private companies in the education sector on a wide range of state and federal legal issues, including those involving the U.S. Constitution, No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX, and the Magnet School Assistance Project. Ms. Sneed is on the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and serves as a board member and secretary of the National School Boards Foundation. Before attending law school, she taught at the high school level. She was also a secondary school principal, assistant principal, and supervisor of gifted and alternative programs in the Montgomery County Public Schools.

Amy Stuart Wells

Dr. Wells’ research and writing has focused broadly on issues of race and education and more specifically on educational policies such as school desegregation, school choice, charter schools, and tracking and how they shape and constrain opportunities for students of color. She is the recipient of several honors and awards, including a 2001-02 Fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation's Scholars Program; the 2000 Julius & Rosa Sachs Lecturer, Teachers College-Columbia University; and the 2000 AERA Early Career Award for Programmatic Research. In 1999-2000 she was a Russell Sage Visiting Scholar. In 1995-96 she was a National Academy of Education-Spencer Foundation Post-doctoral fellow.