13 Nominated to New Panel Overseeing Federal Education Research

December 10, 2003 2 min read

President Bush has nominated 13 members to an advisory board on educational research more than a year after the panel was established.

They range from respected researchers at Stanford and Yale universities to the chairman of Florida’s state board of education. The nominees still must be approved by the Senate.

The federal board will advise the director of the newly established Institute of Education Sciences, the Department of Education’s primary research arm. The board will also, among other duties, approve the director’s proposed priorities for funding research and review and evaluate the institute’s work.

Both the institute and advisory board were founded under the bipartisan Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002. That law effectively abolished the department’s office of educational research and improvement.

Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, the director of the education institute, said he expects the board’s first priority will be to consider his plans for underwriting research. “I’d like for them to do that relatively soon,” he said.

Beyond the advisory and oversight roles, Mr. Whitehurst said, the board is free to issue reports, contract work, or address communications to Congress and the president.

“I expect that they will be very active in both advocating for a greater role for educational research in the education enterprise, ... and speaking to the nature of that research—what it should look like,” he said.

‘Right Side?’

“The first appointments include many people who are exceptionally well- qualified,” said Gerald R. Sroufe, the director of government relations for the Washington-based American Educational Research Association. From a political standpoint, however, “most of the apples seemed to have been picked from the right side of the tree,” he said.

But Christopher T. Cross, an assistant education secretary for research under President George H.W. Bush, disagreed.

“You couldn’t put all of them in the same [political] barrel,” he countered.

That said, Mr. Cross sees at least one consistency among the nominees. “They all tend to be people who have experience in this area of moving toward much more scientifically based research,” he said.

The nominees are: Jonathan Baron, the executive director of the Washington- based Coalition for Evidence-Based Research; Elizabeth Ann Bryan, a former adviser to Secretary of Education Rod Paige; James R. Davis, the superintendent of the Hattiesburg, Miss., public schools; Robert C. Granger, the president of the New York City-based William T. Grant Foundation; Frank Philip Handy, the chairman of Florida’s state board of education; Eric A. Hanushek, a professor at Stanford University; Caroline M. Hoxby, a professor at Harvard University.

Also nominated were Gerald Lee, the president of WBEB radio in Philadelphia and a member of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Research advisory board; Roberto Ibarra Lopez, the superintendent of a Houston charter school; Richard James Milgram, a professor at Stanford University; Sally E. Shaywitz, a professor at Yale University; Joseph K. Torgesen, a professor at Florida State University; and Herbert J. Walberg, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago.

The White House still must name two more members to the board.