Jon Baron founded the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy in fall 2001, and serves as its President. The Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, whose mission is to increase government effectiveness through rigorous evidence about "what works." Since its founding, the Coalition has built a strong track record of success in working with key Executive Branch and Congressional policymakers to advance evidence-based reforms in major U.S. social programs. A recent independent evaluation of the Coalition's work found that the Coalition has been "instrumental in transforming a theoretical advocacy of evidence-based policy among certain [federal] agencies into an operational reality."
Based on this work, Mr. Baron was twice nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate to serve on the National Board for Education Sciences (2004–2011). He currently serves as the Board's Vice-Chair. The Board helps set the research priorities and agenda for the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences.
Prior to establishing the Coalition, Mr. Baron served as the Executive Director of the Presidential Commission on Offsets in International Trade (2000–2001); Program Manager for the Defense Department's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program (1995–2000); and Counsel to the House of Representatives Committee on Small Business (1989–1994). Mr. Baron holds a law degree from Yale Law School, a master's degree in public affairs from Princeton University, and a bachelor of arts degree from Rice University.
Arne Duncan was nominated to be secretary of education by President-elect Barack Obama and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009.
In his confirmation hearings, Duncan called education "the most pressing issue facing America," adding that "preparing young people for success in life is not just a moral obligation of society" but also an "economic imperative." "Education is also the civil rights issue of our generation," he said, "the only sure path out of poverty and the only way to achieve a more equal and just society." Duncan expressed his commitment to work under the leadership of President Obama and with all those involved in education "to enhance education in America, to lift our children and families out of poverty, to help our students learn to contribute to the civility of our great American democracy, and to strengthen our economy by producing a workforce that can make us as competitive as possible."
Prior to his appointment as secretary of education, Duncan served as the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), a position to which he was appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley, from June 2001 through December 2008, becoming the longest-serving big-city education superintendent in the country.
As CEO, Duncan's mandate was to raise education standards and performance, improve teacher and principal quality, and increase learning options. In 7 1/2 years, he united education reformers, teachers, principals, and business stakeholders behind an aggressive education reform agenda that included opening more than 100 new schools, expanding afterschool and summer learning programs, closing down underperforming schools, increasing early childhood and college access, dramatically boosting the caliber of teachers, and building public-private partnerships around a variety of education initiatives.
Among his most significant accomplishments during his tenure as CEO, an all-time high of 66.7 percent of the district's elementary school students met or exceeded state reading standards, and their math scores also reached a record high, with 70.6 percent meeting or exceeding the state's standards. At high schools, CPS students posted gains on the ACT at three times the rate of national gains and nearly twice that of the state's. Also, the number of CPS high school students taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses tripled and the number of students passing AP classes more than doubled. Duncan has increased graduation rates and boosted the total number of college scholarships secured by CPS students to $157 million.
A study released in June 2008 by the Illinois Education Research Council lauded the CPS for its efforts to bring top teaching talent into the city's classrooms, where the number of teachers applying for positions almost tripled since 2003, from about 8,600 to more than 21,000, or about 10 applicants per teaching position. The number of teachers achieving National Board Certification—the highest education credential available to teachers—increased from 11 in 1999 to 1,191 in 2008, making Chicago the fastest-growing urban district in this area of achievement.
Prior to joining the CPS, Duncan ran the nonprofit education foundation Ariel Education Initiative (1992–1998), which helped fund a college education for a class of inner-city children under the I Have A Dream program. He was part of a team that later started a new public elementary school built around a financial literacy curriculum, the Ariel Community Academy, which today ranks among the top elementary schools in Chicago.
Last year, he was honored by the Civic Federation of Chicago and the Anti-Defamation League. In 2007, he received the Niagara Foundation's Education Award, the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship Enterprising Educator Award, and the University High School Distinguished Alumni Award. He also received honorary degrees from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Lake Forest College, and National-Louis University. In 2006, the City Club of Chicago named him Citizen of the Year. He was a member of the Aspen Institute's Henry Crown Fellowship Program, class of 2002, and a fellow in the Leadership Greater Chicago's class of 1995.
From 1987 to 1991, Duncan played professional basketball in Australia, where he also worked with children who were wards of the state. Duncan graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1987, majoring in sociology. He was co-captain of Harvard's basketball team and was named a first team Academic All-American. He credits basketball with his team-oriented and highly disciplined work ethic.
His late father was a professor at the University of Chicago and his mother has run a South Side tutoring program for inner-city children since 1961. As a student in Chicago, Duncan spent afternoons in his mother's tutoring program and also worked there during a year off from college. He credits this experience with shaping his understanding of the challenges of urban education.
Duncan is married to Karen Duncan and has two children, daughter Clare, 7, and son Ryan, 4.
John Q. Easton, the president's nominee for director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), was confirmed by the Senate on May 21, 2009, for a term of six years. IES is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education. It encompasses the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, the National Center for Education Research, and the National Center for Special Education Research.
Easton comes to IES from Chicago, where most recently he was executive director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. Easton was affiliated with the consortium since its inception in 1990, and became its deputy director in 1997. He had a long association with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), serving in several research capacities, including as the director of the Department of Research, Analysis, and Assessment. He also served as director of research for the Chicago Panel on School Policy, where he led a study on the effects of decentralization on CPS.
Easton served a term (2003-07) on the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policies for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the "Nation's Report Card." In 2008, he was awarded a presidential citation from the American Educational Research Association for "research leadership and evaluation studies focused on improving the nature and quality of education in a large urban city."
Easton holds a Ph.D. in measurement, evaluation, and statistical analysis from the University of Chicago; a master's degree from Western Washington University; and a bachelor's degree from Hobart College. He is the author or coauthor of numerous reports and articles, and two books: Charting Chicago School Reform: Democratic Localism as a Lever for Change and Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago, to be published by the University of Chicago Press in fall 2009.
Cecilia E. Rouse is a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, and is currently on leave from Princeton University, where she is the Theodore A. Wells '29 Professor of Economics and Public Affairs. She has been a senior editor of The Future of Children and the Journal of Labor Economics.
Her research focuses on labor economics and the economics of education. Recent research includes studying Florida's school accountability and voucher programs, technology-based programs in schools in large urban districts, strategies for increasing educational attainment among community college students, and the impact of student loans on postcollege occupational choices.
Other topics have included the study of the economic benefit of community college attendance, the Milwaukee Parent Choice Program, and the effects of education inputs on student achievement. She has also studied the existence of discrimination in symphony orchestras, unions in South Africa, and the effect of financial aid on college matriculation.
Dr. Rouse is the founding director of the Princeton University Education Research Section, has been the director of the Industrial Relations Section, and was a member of the MacArthur Foundation's Research Network on the Transition to Adulthood. She also served a year at the National Economic Council under President William J. Clinton from 1998 to 1999. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.