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Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

A Handy 2012 Rolodex Supplement for Edu-Reporters

By Rick Hess — October 13, 2011 3 min read
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A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the ed press’s disconcerting habit of relying almost entirely on professional Democrats or Democratic-leaning academics to provide commentary on Republican education proposals when it comes to the Presidential contest and federal policy. It’s obviously appropriate to offer the Democratic take on such matters, but veteran Democrats are often quoted as seemingly nonpartisan “experts.” Meanwhile, whole stories are penned with little or no insight from conservatives. And given that most of the familiar edu-professors and major education interest groups--from the NEA and AFT, to the NSBA and AASA, to DFER and the Education Trust--are left-leaning, it’s easy for whole stories to portray nothing more than varying flavors of liberal thought.

In response, several reporters and/or bloggers who work this beat wrote to say they sympathized with the point, but that a recurring frustration-- as I’d noted-- is that the edu-universe is disproportionately Democratic. (Now, it’s a different story with the handful of folks who have sometimes pooh-poohed to me the notion that relying primarily on liberals to explain conservative proposals could ever be problematic. To them, I’d just ask whether they’d have any qualms about the coverage of Obama’s jobs bill if it featured nothing but competing takes from conservative academics, business industry groups, and ex-Bush administration officials.)

So, as a public service, here are about two dozen Republican and/or conservative (and/or libertarian) edu-thinkers that enterprising reporters might tap for expertise when writing about GOP policy proposals or the GOP Presidential field and education. All have held public office, worked for or advised public officials, or play prominent roles at organizations where they champion policies regarded as “conservative.” (I’ll skip current Hill staff, just because they’re well-known and are limited in what they can freely share. I’ll also skip former U.S. Secretaries of Education, just due to the “duh” factor.) The folks below span the gamut on the issues of the day, reflecting massive disagreement about everything from NCLB to the Common Core to the Obama edu-record. Hope it’s useful:

Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform
John Bailey, former Bush official now at Dutko Worldwide
Tony Bennett, state chief for Indiana
Kerri Briggs, former Bush official and now director for education reform at the Bush Institute
Lindsey Burke, senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation
Jonathan Butcher, education director at the Goldwater Institute
Bob Costrell, former Romney adviser and now professor at U. Arkansas
Chris Cross, Cross & Joftus LLC
Robert Enlow, president and CEO at the Friedman Foundation
Bill Evers, former Bush administration official and scholar at the Hoover Institution
Checker Finn, president of the Thomas Fordham Institute
Jay Greene, University of Arkansas professor and fellow at the Bush Institute
Jim Guthrie, senior fellow director at the Bush Institute
Rick Hanushek, Hoover Institution scholar and adviser to the Bush Institute
Gene Hickok, former Bush official now at Dutko Worldwide
Gary Huggins, director of the commission on No Child Left Behind at the Aspen Institute
Lisa Graham Keegan, former Arizona state chief and advisor to John McCain’s 2008 campaign
Vic Klatt, principal at the Penn Hill Group
Sandy Kress, former Bush official who played key role in negotiating NCLB
Matt Ladner, research scholar at the Goldwater Institute
Patricia Levesque, executive director at Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future
Neal McCluskey, associate director at the Cato Institute
Charles Miller, former chair of the Spellings Commission on Higher Education
Cheryl Oldham, former Bush official and now executive at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Paul Pastorek, former state chief in Louisiana
Mike Petrilli, former Bush administration official and now executive vice president at the Thomas Fordham Institute
Nina Rees, former Bush official and co-coordinator of Mitt Romney’s education team
Robert Scott, state chief for Texas
Lisa Snell, analyst at the Reason Foundation
Jim Stergios, executive director of the Pioneer Institute
Sandy Stotsky, University of Arkansas professor and former Massachusetts school board member
Marty West, Harvard professor and co-coordinator of Mitt Romney’s education team
David Winston, pollster and adviser to Speaker Boehner
Ze’ev Wurman, former Bush administration official

The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.