For Release: Education Sector Welcomes Six Experts to Its K20 Task Force

Published on September 10, 2012 in

Washington, D.C.— Education Sector announces that six distinguished experts in education policy, journalism, and research will join with the organization to create its first-ever K20 Task Force. The six experts—Peter W. Cookson Jr., Thomas Dawson, Joni Finney, Craig D. Jerald, Jeff Selingo, and Ben Wildavsky— provide expertise in both K-12 and higher education.

The task force members, who will be known as Senior Fellows, will collaborate with Education Sector’s permanent researchers, analysts, and communications experts to identify and address the most important issues in K-12 and higher education. Their bylines will soon appear on Education Sector’s blog, The Quick & the Ed and on Education Sector reports.

Peter W. Cookson Jr. is a scholar who has taught and held leadership positions at several leading colleges and universities, including Teachers College, Columbia University, where he is a member of the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis. He has written extensively about the democratic importance of equality of educational opportunity, 21st century learning, and educational innovation. His latest books are Sacred Trust: A Children’s Education Bill of Rights, the forthcoming Hearts on Fire: Twelve Stories of Today's Visionaries Igniting Idealism into Action, and The Great Unequalizer: Class and American Education. Cookson began his career as a case worker for the New York City Department of Social Services. Today, in addition to his writing and teaching, he works with schools around the country as the founder of a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm, Ideas without Borders.

Thomas Dawson is executive director of product management for Laureate Education, responsible for managing the performance of the Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University, which is the largest online school of education in the U.S. Before joining Laureate, he was a senior program officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he managed a variety of grants and contracts under the foundation’s Postsecondary Success strategy focused on higher education policy, online learning, and education data. Dawson served in a variety of positions at the U.S. Education Department, including deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs, where he oversaw the department’s grants to colleges and universities and its college accreditation office.

Joni Finney is currently the director of the Institute for Research in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. For more than two decades, she has worked with state leaders to improve the public policies that govern higher education. As vice president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, she developed and directed the nation’s first biennial state-by-state report card for higher education, Measuring Up, and was the principal author of the 50 state-by-state report cards, from 2000-2008.She co-authored Public and Private Finance of Higher Education: Shaping Public Policy for the Future and Designing State Higher Education Systems for a New Century. Released this year, her most recent book, Financing Higher Education in an Era of Global Challenge was coauthored with leading scholars and policy researchers.  

Craig D. Jerald is president of Break the Curve Consulting, which provides technical assistance and strategic advice to organizations working to improve education for all students. Previously, Jerald was a principal partner at the Education Trust, where he focused on issues related to school and district accountability and teaching effectiveness. As a senior editor at Education Week from 1996 to 2000, Jerald founded and managed the organization’s research division and co-directed the Quality Counts project, the first national report to grade all 50 states on their education reform efforts. His most recent publications include On Her Majesty’s School Inspection Service for Education Sector; Movin’ It and Improvin’ It: Using Both Education Strategies to Increase Teaching Effectiveness for the Center for American Progress; and Ensuring Accurate Feedback from Observations for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Jeff Selingo is editor at large for The Chronicle of Higher Education. He is a leading authority on higher education worldwide, having spent more than 15 years in a variety of reporting and editing roles at The Chronicle, including serving as editor from 2007-2011. Selingo appears regularly on regional and national radio and television programs, including NPR, PBS, ABC, MSNBC, and CBS. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post. He is currently working on his first book, College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students, which will be published in the spring of 2013.

Ben Wildavsky is a scholar in research and policy at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Before joining the Kauffman Foundation in 2006, he was the education editor of U.S. News & World Report, where he was the top editor of America’s Best Colleges and America’s Best Graduate Schools. He is the author of The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities are Reshaping the World and was the co-editor of Reinventing Higher Education: The Promise of Innovation. His writing has also appeared in The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, and many other publications. He is also a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution.

“We are excited that these six experts have agreed to launch Education Sector’s K20 Task Force,” said Interim CEO John Chubb. “Together, we will produce research, policy, and communications work focused on improving outcomes and bringing the most benefit to all students.” 

Read more about the K20 Task Force members.

Education Sector is an independent think tank that challenges conventional thinking in education policy. We are a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to achieving measurable impact in education, both through improving existing reform initiatives and by developing new, innovative solutions to our nation’s most pressing education problems.