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The Newsletter of the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis at Teachers College, Columbia University

the e p s a - l o g u e Summer 2012

Volume 1

Issue 3


Policy Schools Economics Networks Society Communities Students Analysis Reform Teachers Politics Families Organizations Education


Welcome to the third installment of The EPSA-logue, the departmental newsletter of the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis. Our newsletter’s name “EPSA-logue” stems from the suffix “logue” (origin French and Latin “logos”) and denoting discourse, written or spoken, of a specified type (e.g. dialogue, monologue, travelogue). We hope that it will produce numerous conversations and presentations on various topics relating to education policy and social analysis. social All are welcome to participate.

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3 The EPSA Departmental Mission  4 From the Chair’s Desk  6 News You Can Use  10 Panels & Presenta ons...  15 An Interes ng Course for Fall 2012  16 Student, Faculty, and Alumni News  20 Fellowship Recipients  22 Inside the Winner’s Circle    cs and Educa on  24 A Mixture of Poli Recognizing the Global Value of Early  26 Childhood Educa on  28 Gradua on Day  32 The Doctors Are In  34 Good Chemistry  36 Beyond the Schoolhouse Doors: Non‐School Factors in       Educa on Policy, 9/19/2012 Roundtable @Teachers College  37 What Are You Reading Right Now?  38 Stay Connected  39 What’s Next?  2 Issue 2, Volume 1

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EPSA Mission

Teachers College, already known for shaping data-driven policy choices in education circles, is the pre-eminent training ground for future education policy leaders in academia, government, communities, and the non-profit education delivery sector. The mission of The Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis is to engage in cutting edge research and teaching to address critical problems affecting education and contribute to informed analysis and action to promote educational achievement and equity. EPSA starts out with a broad and inclusive view of the kinds of issues that its faculty and students might consider important to address. Explicitly, we are interested in both formal institutions of schooling and the political, bureaucratic, organizational, economic and social factors that profoundly affect both schools and the broader educational enterprise. We are interested in the role that families, communities, and civil society can play in promoting education outside the school building walls. We have a special interest and capability in addressing issues from pre-K through higher education, in identifying ways in which laws and institutions affect education, and in understanding the growing role of private for-profit and nonprofit organizations in delivering education technologies and services. Students in this department will develop general skills of policy research and analysis, along with general perspectives on policy development and implementation that are widely applicable to other domains of public policy. Social analysis grounded in disciplinary studies in sociology, political science, and economics should inform applied policy studies and vice versa.

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Tuesday, May 15, marked our first Masters’ Convocation; the following day, our first doctoral hooding ceremony. In all, 54 EPSA students received their degrees. It’s always fun for us to watch the new alums and meet their families, but it carried some special meaning this year, when for the first time EPSA’s banner joined that of the other nine TC departments at the back of the stage. The students were part of the impetus to creating the new department, and we drew a lot of encouragement and support from them while the department

FROM THE evolved from vague idea into a functioning entity. As we reflect back, we also are looking forward. One of our major tasks is to carve out a distinct identity that resonates with past and potential students. Part of that identity will hinge on the way we approach the important education policy issues of the day. One of the oddest and most distressing elements in contemporary education policy debates is the politicized fault line between those who argue for attending to the broad range of non-school factors that affect opportunity versus those that emphasize the progress that can be made by schools alone. What makes this debate odd is that both common sense and empirical evidence make it undeniable that both school and nonschool factors are important. What makes it distressing is that, despite the fact that proponents in both camps acknowledge that both are important, the fear that “the other side” will win the battle to define public priorities leads to hardened and oversimplified positions and fritters away energy that could be better spent exploring common ground.

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EPSA, with its programmatic strengths in economic, legal, political, and social forces, naturally has a lot to say about non-school factors. Faculty and students engage in research into ways in which matters like fiscal changes, job markets, racial and economic residential patterns, civil rights laws and their enforcement, housing policies, family and childcare options, and community organizations make it more or less likely that learning will take place and education gaps shaved down. But paying attention to these is a complement—not an alternative—to paying attention to what happens inside districts, schools, and classrooms. Economics concerns itself with teacher labor markets, for example, but also with the relative costs and benefits of small classroom size.

Law and education policy does not deal only with high profile battles over special education or school desegregation, it also attends to the ways teachers balance the need to maintain classroom discipline and order against the requirements to respect students’ rights. Politics deals with ideological and partisan clashes in Washington DC, but also

CHAIR’S DESK with the way teacher voice can improve practice or be suffocated by central office policies and principal management styles. Sociology looks at how racial and ethnic differences can erode trust and communication between family and school, but also considers how the organization of districts and classrooms can affect the potential for internal school communities to innovate and to operate as a team. On September 19th, we’ll be hosting an event that we hope will promote more thoughtful consideration of the interaction between school and non-school factors and to nudge the national policy debate in more productive directions. The editors of three important new volumes—Whither Opportunity?; Research on Schools, Neighborhoods, and Communities; and The Future of School Integration-- will be summarizing the findings in their collections and participating in a panel discussion about the implications for a new American education policy agenda. Stay tuned for further details.

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you can use Faculty Sabbaticals Henry Levin, AY 2012-2013 Douglas Ready, AY 2012-2013 Carolyn Riehl, Spring 2013 New Faculty Program Coordinator As of 9/01/2012, Professor Mun Tsang is the Program Coordinator for the Economics & Education Program

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New EPSA Staff Hire Liz Carroll, as of 9/04/2012 Program Manager Programs in Economics & Education and Sociology & Education

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Cross-registration is currently open for Fall 2012 All TC students who wish to take a course at Columbia University will still register at TC. When the advisor approves the outside course as fitting with student’s program of study, the student will still need to obtain an approval from the course instructor. The approval needs to be in writing on a TC registration card (available at the Registrar’s office, Thorndike Bldg., 3rd Floor), or can be written as a short note by the instructor / departmental representative. The TC Registrar representative will then enter the approval and the student will be able to register online through My TC Portal. Five-digit CU call number will be required while adding a class online. It will replace the CRN number of a TC course. It is important to make sure that the calendar of study of other schools will not coincide with TC course schedule. Students cross-registered at another university are subject to the academic regulations of the host university, including the grading system, calendar, and academic honor system. However, they will be billed according to CU tuition rates. With any questions regarding a cross-registration issue, please call the Registrar’s Office at 212-678-4050 or the EPSA department at 212-6783165.

*New * EPSA Grants for Student-Led Initiatives

In September 2012, the EPSA Department introduces funding for student-led initiatives. EPSA students will be able to apply for EPSA grants, ranging from $25 to $500, to fund studentled initiatives, which should benefit a minimum of 7 students per project. The types of initiatives that could qualify are guest lecturer honorariums, social events, film screenings, book talks, local (Tri-State Area) conference entrance fees, local (Tri -State Area) cultural organization entrance fees, student group meetings, etc. Use your imagination. To apply, and for more information, please e-mail us at

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The Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis is launching a new Education Policy M.A. Program beginning in Fall 2012. The new Education Policy Program will replace the existing Leadership, Policy and Politics Program (LPP). It will not affect anyone who is a current student in the LPP M.A. program. The Education Policy Program aims to build a cadre of education policy experts whose deep grounding in a range of educational policy issues is matched by their understanding of the policy process and the tools of policy analysis. The Masters of Arts (M.A.) degree offered by the Education Policy Program is focused on the preparation of policy analysts, policy advocates, and education researchers. The program develops students’ knowledge and skills by drawing on interdisciplinary policy studies, the social science disciplines of economics, law, politics, and sociology, and substantive content on policies and practice in early childhood education, K-12 education, higher education, and law and education. Luis Huerta, Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy, will serve as Program Coordinator for the new Education Policy Program. You can find a detailed description of the program including course requirements, in the Power Point presentation with a voiceover, at the following link: TCNEWS/2011_2012/temporary/Ed.PolicyProgramPresentation.pptx? KeepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=400&width=400 Additional documents are available in the EPSA office.

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Student Travel Reimbursement Awards Each year, the EPSA Department offers a limited number of awards to students to assist in the reimbursement of expenses incurred while serving on a panel at a national or international professional conference. The maximum reimbursement is $400 and priority is given to those presenting a research paper; if there are sufficient funds, those participating in a poster session or as a discussant will be considered eligible. Eligible, reimbursable travel expenses include: air fare, train fare, hotel, parking, meals, tolls, parking, car rental, and taxi fare. For more information about how to apply, please e-mail us at

Policy-related, student organizations at Teachers College Policy Student Network Id=Policy+Student+Network&Info=PSN-Overview

Society for Economics & Education Society for Sociology of Education For more info, e-mail:

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& Conferences

Lectures Socials





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Eastern Sociological Society  (ESS)  82nd Annual Mee ng February 23‐26, 2012


EPSA faculty members Amy Stuart Wells and Douglas Ready, along with several EPSA graduate students, were featured speakers at “Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools,” an invitational mini-conference held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society in February in New York City. Professors Wells and Ready presented several papers related to their research on school segregation in Nassau County, New York. Located just to the east of New York City on Long Island, Nassau County contains over 50 independent school systems that are among the most racially and ethnically segregated in the nation. Their studies examined the historical development of the county’s segregated housing, described how the area’s severe municipal fragmentation maintains and exacerbates residential and school segregation, and offered insights into how Nassau residents interpret the stark differences that exist across school districts. Their ongoing research in Nassau County is also exploring how school district racial/ ethnic composition influences home buying decisions and ultimately home sales prices. For further information, contact Amy Stuart Wells at or Douglas Ready at

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On April 26, 2012, New York Public Library organized a panel discussion, “Transforming Urban Education. New York City Schools under Chancellor Joel Klein,” to discuss a new book published by the Harvard University Press (2011) and edited by Jennifer A. O’Day, Catherine S. Bitter, and Louis M. Gomez. EPSA was represented both on the panel and in the edited volume. The book, Education Reform in New York City Ambitious Change in the Nation’s Most Complex School System, is the result of a collaboration of many researchers, who reviewed key reform areas associated with NYC Children First Initiative. Children First was originally implemented in 2003, under the leadership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor of Schools Joel Klein as an educational reform of urban schools. At that time, it was advertised as one of the most complex, far-reaching urban education reform in the country. Seven years later, several foundations, under the umbrella of NYC Education Reform Retrospective, asked leading education researchers to review key reform areas associated with the initiative and express their opinions about the reform. The chapters are organized around five themes: Governance and Management; Teaching and Learning; High School Reform; Student Outcomes; and Themes and Commentary. Andres Alonso, the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, and a former high-level administrator in the NYC system, has called it “an important book” that “does justice to the ambition and complexity of New York City’s Children First reforms, as seen through the perspectives of both critics and advocates.”

Professor Henig, EPSA’s chair and director of its Program in Politics & Education, discussed controversies about parent and community engagement. He was co-author of a chapter on that subject, along with Eva Gold and Elaine Simon (from Research for Action), Marion Orr (Brown University), and Megan Silander, an EPSA Ph.D. candidate in education policy. They focused their research on the contentious politics surrounding the 2009 decision by the state legislature to extend mayoral control of New York City schools. Based on extensive

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In the photo (from the left): Dr. Jennifer O’Day, Dr. Jeffrey Henig, Dr. James Kemple, Dr. Leslie Santee Siskin, and Dr. Sean Corcoran.

interviews, they argued that conflict involved contrasting views about the proper scope and function of community involvement in education and not simply differences about matters such as testing and curriculum. Professor Henry M. Levin, of EPSA’s Program in Economics & Education, was also involved in the project. Along with Sean Corcoran, of NYU, he wrote about the school choice process in NYC schools. Their chapter focuses especially on the city’s innovative and complex high school admission process in which, each year, 80-90,000 middle school students rank as many as five from among over 700 schools and programs; schools rank their applicants and a computerized matching process is used to determine who gets in. “There is little doubt that school choice is more transparent and equitable under Bloomberg and Klein,” they conclude. Yet the system also has “the potential to increase stratification by race, academic ability, and socioeconomic status.” Professor Levin was not at the panel, but Professor Corcoran presented the results. In addition to Professors Henig and Corcoran, the panel included Dr. Jennifer O’Day, Managing Research Scientist at the American Institutes for Research and Director of the NYC Education Reform Retrospective project; Prof. Leslie Santee Siskin, and Prof. Leanna Steifel (from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development); and Dr. James Kemple, Executive Director of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools. The Q&A session that followed the panelists’ presentation revealed that the audience of students, parents, and NYC educators, had strong opinions of their own.

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The Annual   EPSA Spring Social  April 27th Teachers College

The EPSA Spring Social is an opportunity for newly-admitted and continuing students to meet on campus and mingle with faculty in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. Program information and advisement is available and continuing students can provide valuable information about their experiences. Good food and good company made this event a complete success!

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An Interesting Course for Fall 2012 The EPSA-logue

EDPS 5620.001 Advanced Colloquium in Sociology of Education “Case Study Design for Policy-Relevant Research in Education and Social Welfare Programs: Studying Policy Context and Impact “ Professor Amy Stuart Wells Teaching Assistant Allison Roda Thursdays, 2:00-4:00pm (CRN 34004)

This course is designed to assist students in conceptualizing and designing case study research projects – for Master’s Theses or Doctoral Dissertations – that examine, interrogate, and evaluate public policies in the fields of education and social welfare. The course will emphasize the benefits and limitations of case study research design for studying particular issues and programs with the goal of defining what case study is and when this form of inquiry is most helpful. Because case study is a research design and not a methodology per se, the class will focus on what sort of research questions can best be answered through such a design and what methodologies – quantitative, qualitative or a mix of both – can be used with a case study to best answer those questions. The significance and meaning of a more contextual approach to education policy research – the most important attribute of case studies – will be emphasized. Although the use of quantitative and mixed-methods data collection within case studies will be discussed, the emphasis in this class will be on the use of qualitative methods within case studies. This course, therefore, fulfills the qualitative research method requirement for the Sociology and Education Program and possibly other programs across the EPSA Department and College.


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STUDENT , FACULTY & ALUMNI NEWS Busy lives and schedules not withstanding, EPSA students, faculty, and alumni, still find to time to write, research, present, give interviews, lecture, publish, and even win awards!

Article Publications: Aaron Pallas, Professor of Sociology & Education Clare Buckley, Ph.D. Candidate, Program in Sociology and Education (2012). “Thoughts of Leaving: An exploration of why New York City middle school teachers consider leaving their classrooms”. Research Alliance for New York City Schools. NYU Steinhardt School of Education, June 2012. Douglas Ready, Associate Professor of Education Policy (2012). “Inter District and Intra-District Segregation on Long Island”. Long Island Index. School District Segregation Study, April 2012.

Dr. Daekwon Park, Ph.D., (2010), Politics & Education Program (2012). “Impacts of Urban Economic Factors on Private Tutoring Industry”. Asian Pacific Education Review. Volume 13, 2, 273-280) Judith Scott-Clayton, Assistant Professor of Economics & Education Olga Rodriguez, Ph.D. Candidate, Program in Economics and Education (2012). “Development, Discouragement, or Diversion? New evidence on the effects of college remediation”. National Bureau of Economic Research. Working Paper #18328, August 2012.

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Editorial Appointments:

Luis A. Huerta, Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy at Teachers College, has been named an editor of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (EEPA), the research publication of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Huerta was named with three other education researchers and policy experts to the publication’s editorial panel for a three-year term, beginning in 2013. Also appointed were Mark Berends, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Research on Education Opportunity at the University of Notre Dame; Laura S. Hamilton, Senior Behavioral Scientist and Research Quality Assurance Manager at the RAND Corporation in Pittsburgh; and Ron W. Zimmer, Associate Professor at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. Huerta’s own research applies theory in organizational sociology and economics, together with policy analysis frameworks, to the study of 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, homeschooling, 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. The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the national interdisciplinary research association for approximately 25,000 scholars from a broad range of disciplines including education, psychology, statistics, sociology, history, economics, philosophy, anthropology, and political science. It was founded in 1916 to advance knowledge and encourage scholarly inquiry related to education, and to promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. EEPA, published quarterly by AERA, is a multidisciplinary policy journal that publishes scholarly articles of theoretical, methodological, or policy interest to those engaged in educational policy analysis, evaluation, and decision making. The EPSA-logue

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Awards: Thomas Bailey, the George and Abby O’Neill Professor of Economics and Education and founding Director of the Community College Research Center at Teachers College. Recipient of the 2012 Division J Exemplary Research Award for educational research focused on postsecondary research from the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Professor Bailey received the award at the annual American Educational Research Association (AERA) meeting, held this past April, in Vancouver. Terrenda White, Ph.D. Candidate, Program in Sociology & Education. Recipient of the 2012-2013, AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship.

Elected Positions: Thomas Bailey, the George and Abby O’Neill Professor of Economics and Education and founding Director of the Community College Research Center at Teachers College AND Sharon Lynn Kagan, the Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy and Co-Director of the National Center for Children and Family. They are among five education leaders who have been elected to membership in the National Academy of Education (NAEd) for their pioneering efforts in educational research and policy development. The NAEd advances the highest quality education research and its use in policy formation and practice. Its current President is Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman.   Dr. Daekwon Park, Ph.D., (2010), Politics & Education Program. Appointed as International Liaison for the 2nd International School Choice and Reform Academic Conference. The conference was inaugurated in January 2012 and provides a forum for many scholars in the field of school choice to gather together.

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Television Appearances/Interviews/Opinion Pieces: Basil Smikle, Ph.D. Candidate, Program in Politics and Education. Guest appearance, Democratic Strategist on Viewpoint, with Elliot Spitzer. Topic: Debating with Chip Saltsman: The politics of cool when it comes to Obama (April 27, 2012) Opinion piece, The New York Times Opinion Pages Title: “Make Competitive Elections More Common.� -yorkers-to-vote/make-competitive-elections-more-common (June 26, 2012.)

Promotions: Douglas Ready, Ph.D. He has received tenure at Teachers College and been promoted to Associate Professor.

Post-Graduate, Academic Appointments: Rachel Rosen, Ph.D. (May 2012), Program in Leadership, Policy & Politics. She has accepted a post-doctoral position at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

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Education Pioneers

Fellowship Recipients Summer 2012 David Nitkin (Newark) M.A. Candidate, Economics & Education Thomas Yake (NYC) M.A. Candidate, Economics & Education Carlon Myrick (NYC) M.A. Candidate, Sociology & Education

Education Pioneers attracts, prepares, and advances top graduate students and early career professionals who believe that all children can achieve at high levels; who possess a relentless drive to achieve results; who are representative in race and class of the communities they serve; who are committed to Education Pioneers' core values of courage, optimism, collaboration, and action; and who have experience in finance, strategy, marketing, operations, human resources, curriculum design, policy analysis, or law. In addition, Education Pioneers equips Fellows for permanent education leadership careers with full-day professional development sessions where Fellows learn directly from industry leaders, connect with a diverse peer group, and optimize their skills in the context of K-12 urban education.

Anindita Nugroho (NYC) M.A. Candidate, Economics & Education Kaitlin Padgett (NYC) M.A. Candidate, Sociology & Education Courtney Smith (NYC) M.A. Candidate, Politics & Education Rachel Zell (Newark) Ed.M. Candidate, Leadership, Policy & Politics Carter Hempleman (Bay Area) M.A. , (2012 Graduate), Sociology & Education Jennifer Okwudili (Boston) M.A. Candidate, Politics & Education Ajay Srikanth (Chicago), ME-ELPL Ed.M. Candidate, Leadership, Policy & Politics

For more information about the Education Pioneers organization and its fellowship program, go to: The EPSA-logue

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2012-2013 Teachers College Education Policy Dissertation Fellowship Recipients Kristen Bucceri, Ph.D. Candidate Program in Economics & Education The Effect of Early Commitment Scholarship Programs on College Outcomes: The case of Oklahoma's Promise. Katharine Conn, Ph.D. Candidate Program in Economics & Education How Can the Kenyan Ministry of Education Best Improve Access to Secondary School Among the Poor?: Findings from a policy experiment in scholarship targeting. Maria Emma Garcia Garcia, Ph.D. Candidate Program in Economics & Education What We Learn in School: Cognitive and non-cognitive skill in the educational production function. Katia Herrera Sosa, Ph.D. Candidate Program in Economics & Education Low-fee Private School Competition in the Education Marketplace of India and Pakistan. Rachel Kliegman, Ed.D. Candidate Program in Curriculum & Teaching How Overlapping Contexts Shape Superintendent's Approaches to Equity. Ji Yun Lee, Ph.D. Candidate Program in Economics & Education Does Private Tutoring Matter in Student's Academic Outcomes, Mainstream Schooling, and Educational Equity.

The Education Policy Dissertation Research Fellowship is open to TC students, regardless of their department or program, whose dissertation research has the potential to inform societal efforts to improve educational opportunity, achievement, or equity. This research should be focused on an important policy issue at any level of government, reflect potential for policy utility, and show a strong likelihood of being accepted in the most well-respected journals. Our view of policy relevance is a broad one, encompassing research that affects policy indirectly by shifting public understanding of societal challenges and opportunities for effective intervention.

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Lauren McDade, Politics & Education

David Nitkin, Economics & Education


PSA is proud to announce that Lauren McDade, an M.A. student in the Politics and Education program, and David Nitkin, an M.A. student in Economics and Education, have been named the winners in the Education category of the Arizona State University Startup America Policy Challenge for their project, Open Source R&D Investment in Assessment Technology. Nitkin and McDade’s winning proposal was based on an assignment they completed for the Federal Policy Institute (course number EDPA 4899), offered each year by EPSA professor Sharon Lynn Kagan. The Institute provides students with the opportunity to travel to Washington DC for a week to meet with policymakers, legislators, and think-tank members. As a capstone, students prepare a policy paper based on a subject they’ve researched as part of the course. Nitkin and McDade wrote about educational technology.

inside winner’s

“FPI was the best class I had taken at TC so far,” says Nitkin. “Professor Kagan had us schedule our own meetings in DC, so I set up a meeting with some folks at the Achieve Network who gave me valuable background information. There’s a debate in education regarding assessment and accountability. I wish there was a third voice discussing improving the quality of assessments we have. How can we create better measures that we can all be accountable for?” The students expanded their research into a policy proposal focusing on collecting data on student growth. “The critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills that students need to succeed in tomorrow’s economy simply cannot be assessed through scan and bubble exams,” they wrote. “Accordingly, the federal government should invest in basic research into assessment technology and item development for the next generation of student achievement tests. Furthermore, it should award the money through a competitive ‘crowd-sourced’ structure that unleashes the power of networks to drive innovation.”

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“The thing that struck me the most,” says McDade, “is the potential that open-source R&D development has to bring new ideas and perspectives into education while not being politically charged like so many new ideas in education are these days.” The ASU Policy Challenge was formed in response to the Startup America Policy Challenge, announced by the White House in 2011. Federal government agencies challenged the American public to serve as entrepreneurial problem solvers, identifying the best solution for administrative change to a particular public challenge. The ASU School of Public Affairs offered a national policy proposal competition in which students, scholars, practitioners and concerned public citizens could submit ideas for administrative change that would enable the use of new technologies.

the circle

McDade learned about the ASU challenge when an announcement was sent out to EPSA students last winter. She attended an information session sponsored by the Society for Entrepreneurship and Education and realized that the paper she and Nitkin had prepared could be expanded into a proposal for the challenge. “The idea of the challenge itself was exciting, yet a little daunting,” she says. “It invited such a wide range of ideas.” Nitkin and McDade submitted a brief proposal last spring. Upon learning they had been accepted as finalists, they were given a month to prepare a long-form version. “We were given academic contacts,” says Nitkin, “fifteen experts who had agreed to provide comments.” The students also had to prepare a presentation for the final competition, held on May 21 in Washington D.C. “The timeline was the most challenging,” McDade says, “since the final proposal was due a little more than a week after classes wrapped up at TC.”

At the Challenge Finale, McDade and Nitkin presented their proposal to a panel of expert judges with backgrounds in government, industry and academia, and met with Department of Education principals to discuss their ideas. Upon being named the winner, their contest entry was presented to the Cabinet Secretary from the Department of Education. “When it comes to innovation, change and reform,” says Nitkin, “coming up with the idea is 1% of the work and 99% of the work is implementation. How is it going to be implemented, paying attention to the policy and political environment? Are there roadblocks? It’s about how we’re going to make this a reality dealing with parents, politicians, schools, kids and districts.” “I strongly believe that good ideas for solving public problems can come from anywhere,” says McDade, “not just the ‘usual suspects,’ whether they be in government, private industry, or academia...opening the doors for the non-experts to offer their perspective is important in finding workable solutions.”

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Mixture Politics Education OF


An interview with an EPSA student


ne of the most valuable and essential assets to any successful program in college is its students. The richness of their backgrounds and their experiences is what makes us all grow and expand the horizons of our understanding, tolerance, and success. In that spirit, EPSAlogue will regularly feature profiles of some of its students. In this issue, we are introducing Basil Smikle, a second year Ph.D. student in the program of Politics and Education. Each spring the P&E program admissions committee members evaluate many applications. The Ph.D. program is very selective and looks for candidates whose interests and abilities line up well with those of our faculty. The program considers the applicant's potential as a thinker, researcher, and writer. Basil Smikle was a very clear match for our program. A child of Jamaican immigrants, he has always been inspired by his father, a retired textile worker, and mother, a long-time public school special education teacher, to give back to the community. His parents and grandmother came from Jamaica in the 1970s and raised him in the Bronx. He

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went to Catholic elementary and high schools where, he says, he received an education that was academically rigorous in an environment with strict disciplinary rules. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1993 from Cornell University in Industrial

Basil Smikle, Ph.D. Candidate

and Labor Relations. In 1996, he received a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University. In addition to being a Ph.D. student at Teachers College Basil works as an adjunct professor at SIPA. After the graduate school, Basil got involved in politics and started working for a politician who ran for Mayor of NYC. That is when he got the political bug and became very politically active. Since then, he has worked with Hillary Clinton during her first campaign for the Senate and became her Deputy State Director in The EPSA-logue


her Senate office. He also worked with the former President Bill Clinton and many other elected officials to advance their political interests. Most of the people in politics he admires were Democrats like David Dinkins, Jesse Jackson, Maynard Jackson, and Bill Clinton. However, he has also worked with a few Republicans over the years and that is why he calls himself a “moderate Democrat.” At a certain point of his engagement with politics, he decided to move from the support side of politics—helping others— into more direct involvement. In 2010, he ran for State Senate in a district that covered Harlem, the Upper West Side, parts of East Harlem and Washington Heights. Education has become a very important part of his political career and central to his platform. His mother taught special education in NYC for about 30 years. He had a lot of teachers and professors in his family both here and in Jamaica. In his campaign, he acknowledged how important education was for him and how it helped him escape many problems of the neighborhood in which he was raised. Of the neighborhoods in the district, Harlem fared the worst in terms of educational outcomes, unemployment, and access to affordable housing. Basil was not naïve about his chances of winning:

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as a political consultant who advises others on such matters, he knew the odds of beating an incumbent were slim. Despite important endorsements, he lost in the primary. However, he is proud of calling attention to these issues. He believes that the comfort of incumbency needs to be challenged so that leaders become more responsive to glaring problems in the community. When education policy became a huge part of his political agenda, Basil started to think of becoming a better researcher, scholar, and academician. He already worked as an Adjunct faculty member at Columbia in SIPA and in the City University of NY system for about 7 years and so knew that he loved teaching. Obtaining a Ph.D. was something he had wanted to do since college but he was never certain how he would use it and what an appropriate course of study would be. He considered other fields, but in the end, he realized that one of the most important issues on his agenda was education policy. Some of his clients had been leaders in education leadership – such as the former Chancellor Joel Klein. He worked with a team of education advocates to organize parents throughout the City, who have children in charter schools. He even helped to start a school in the Bronx – the Eagle Academy, spearheaded by an organization called 100 Black Men. Currently, the organization has sponsored four such schools. Taking it all into consideration he realized that he had found the perfect match to his interests and professional expertise in the program of Politics and Education at TC. Basil told us that he is learning much in the Politics and Education program and, given the career he has had, he can use all that he is learning for very specific areas in his life and career that The EPSA-logue

are meaningful and helpful. He partially regrets that in politics itself there is little insight and instruction and little room for inspiration and independent thought. Therefore, he appreciates the work with the insightful instructors and the program’s fascinating coursework, allowing real debates on issues. Thanks to TC courses, he is beginning to understand what really happens in classrooms and how children develop. Most importantly, he is learning how political decisions (some of which he had a hand in) affect the school and classroom level. Basil has a pretty good notion of what he will focus on in his dissertation. He plans to research the impact that fundraising by education reformers and charter school supporters is having on the political participation of parents in local elections and their informal lobbying efforts of elected officials in areas where charters have proliferated (Harlem, South Bronx, and Washington DC). Basil continues to be active as a Democratic strategist. He advises Democratic candidates, unions, and others both in furtherance of their specific goals and in more generally strengthening the Democratic brand. He loves the commentary he does on television, radio, and in the newspapers. He views it as a continuation of his role as a teacher/instructor. We asked Basil if he sees much difference between political discourses in media and those he engages in within his classes. In his opinion, both academia and politics could be better informed by bridging the divide between them. In classes or course readings, there are attempts to talk about political decisions and the impact on education but unless the authors know the players well, have followed their decisions, and know relationships, accurate analysis will be difficult. What makes a strategist valuable (and what The EPSA-logue


makes Basil valuable on TV) is the ability to speak to historic relationships and trends not reported in newspapers and undetected by academic research that influence decisions. So many decisions are based on relationships and discrete political goals rather than data and altruism. That is hard to reconcile with academic inquiry that may demand more quantifiable data. The advantages go both ways, since his commentary in the media is better informed by the work he is doing at Columbia. He can bring in research and data and synthesize it for an audience that is accustomed to sound bites. Jokingly, he adds, it helps him sound smarter! What next? Basil is excited to receive this degree and become a better researcher, writer, and professor. He will try to move his business model from mostly politics to incorporate program evaluation and education consulting in a far more robust fashion. He wants to continue on his chosen pathway to success, which he attributes to three things: a family that valued education and encouraged him to be intellectually curious, a school that challenged him, and teachers who inspired him. He wants that for other children. Basil plans to stay visible through his political commentary on TV and in print media and by working with his political and non-profit clients (his recent commentary in the New York Times’ The Opinion Pages, titled “Make Competitive Elections More Common” was published on June 26). He invites you to check his website at

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R e c o g n i z i n g the

Global Value


Early Childhood


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While Europe’s sovereign debt crisis has led to sharp cuts in social spending, recognition of the value of early childhood education (ECE) is so strong in European countries that they likely will continue to offer the most affordable and highquality preschool programs in the world. At the same time, high-quality early childhood education is not universally available in the United States, where standards of care and children’s development are uneven. Those are two key findings of Starting Well: Benchmarking early education across the world, a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) of the Economist magazine that ranks the United States 24th among 45 countries in the provision of early childhood services. Sharon Lynn Kagan, Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood Policy and Co-Director of the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University, served as the only U.S. expert consultant on the report. The EIU also consulted with Professor Christine Pascal at the Centre for Research in Early Childhood in the UK. (For access to the full report and to an overview of key findings, visit the Starting Well home page.)

The Lien Foundation, a Singapore-based philanthropic organization, commissioned the EIU to devise an index to rank preschool provision across 45 countries, including countries in the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development and major emerging markets. The EIU interviewed experts around the world and reviewed existing research to assess major developments, obtain guidance on good practices, and highlight key issues to address. The experts found that Nordic countries provide the best preschools, with Finland, Sweden and Norway topping the Index, while European countries dominate the rankings, as universal preschool has steadily become the norm. The top eight countries, in descending order, are: Finland, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, France and the Netherlands. New Zealand is ninth, and South Korea, tenth. Among the key findings:

 Many high-income countries – including the United States – rank poorly, despite wealth being a major factor in a country’s ability to deliver preschool services. Despite high average per-capita incomes, the United States (24), the United Arab Emirates (24), Canada (26), Australia (28), and Singapore (29), all place in the lower half of the Index. The researchers found that quality preschool programs are present in these countries but not available or affordable to all income levels. Minimum quality standards also vary in those countries.

“The fact that The Economist elected to highlight early childhood globally marks a first for the field,” Kagan said. “It signals the importance of early childhood development to the social economy of countries.”

 A number of other countries, such as Chile (20) and the Czech Republic (17), have made significant efforts to ensure that preschool is available to all families, including instituting it as a legal right.

Sharon Lynn Kagan, According to the report, released in late June, preschools can help to ensure that all children get a the Virginia & Leonard Marx Professor of Early strong start in life, especially those from “lowChildhood Education  Public sector spending cuts pose a major income or disadvantaged households.” Preschool threat to preschools. also “facilitates greater participation by women in the workforce, which bolsters economic growth,” the report says. Ensuring a high standard of teacher training and education, setting clear curriculum guidelines, and ensuring parental “The data are really incontrovertible,” Kagan says. “Three involvement all help to determine preschool education quality. strands of research combine to support the importance of the early years. From neuro-scientific research, we understand the According to the report, written by James Watson and edited criticality of early brain development; from social science by Sudhir Vadaketh, much work is left to improve early research, we know that high quality programs improve childhood education globally. children’s readiness for school and life; and from econometric “What this study also highlights is that no country has yet research, we know that high quality programs save society perfected its preschool provision. As all countries seek to significant amounts of money over time. Early childhood develop a more highly skilled labor force that can better contributes to creating the kinds of workforces that are going compete in a globalized knowledge-based economy, greater to be needed in the twenty-first century.” consideration of the role of preschool education is needed.”

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2012 marked the first graduation of students from the newly re-organized department.

On Tuesday, May 15th, M.A. and Ed.M. graduates were conferred their degrees in a ceremony held at St. John the Divine. In a separate event, on Wednesday, May 16th, doctoral graduates received their degrees during a hooding ceremony at the Cathedral.

Watching the graduates, surrounded by family and friends, was a proud moment for everyone, celebrating their hard work and commitment . We wish them all the best and a productive future.

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Faculty and administrators file into St. John the Divine Cathedral.

Family and friends gather inside for the ceremony.

After the ceremony, the happy crowd exits down the stairs of the cathedral, on to Amsterdam Avenue.

A peacock, of unknown provenance, attends the festivities with his unique graduation outfit.

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The EPSA staff prepare for the Graduation Reception.

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Economics and Education, M.A.

Mark Cheng Jason Demauro Allison Gorr Jihye Kam Zhilun Liu Maurice Mamba Ngalamulume Jie-Wei Wang Jason Wofsey Yubo Zhang

Leadership, Policy and Politics, M.A.

Leadership, Policy and Poltics Ed.M.

Nicholas Chung Lawrence Corio Alan Faiola Cary Finnegan Tao Huang Hephzibah Kwon Rachel Langlais Catherine Todd

Jade Le Ajay Srikanth

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Politics and Education, M.A.

Alan Chusuei Jaunelle Pratt Chloe Woodward-Magrane

Sociology and Education, M.A.

Sociology and Education, Ed.M.

Tovah Gottesman Victoria Scrubbs Hope White

Ashley-Damita Adams Camille Aramini Kaylan Baxter Kelsey Bolvin Ellen Bracken Yolanda Bromfield Erin Choi Brittney Collins Siqing He Carter Hempelman Mawuli Hormeku Kody Melancon Maria Otero Jennifer Owens Rachel Whilby Man Sze Yue Consuelo del Canto Ramirez The EPSA-logue

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the doctors Here are highlights of the twelve, newly-minted doctorates , their

Bianca Baldridge, Ph.D. Sociology & Education

Rachel Bork, Ph.D. Politics & Education

(Re) Imagining Black Youth: Negotiating the Social, Political and Institutional Dimensions of Urban Community-Based Educational Spaces

From At-Risk to Disconnected: Federal Youth Policy from 1973 to 2008 Dissertation Sponsor: Professor Jeffrey Henig

Dissertation Sponsor: Professor Amy Stuart Wells

Chad d’Entremont Politics & Education

Karla Diaz Hadzisadikovic, Ph.D. Economics & Education

Circles of Influence: Rational DecisionMaking, Strategic Positioning, and the Formation of Charter School Clusters in New Jersey

Selectivity, Transferability of Skills and Labor Market Outcomes of Recent Immigrants in the United States

Dissertation Sponsor: Professor Jeffrey Henig Mei Luo, Ph.D. Leadership, Policy and Politics Concentration Reforming Curriculum in a Centralized System: An Examination of the Relationships Between Teacher Implementation of StudentCentered Pedagogy and High Stakes Teacher Evaluation Policies in China

Dissertation Sponsor: Professor Francisco Rivera-Batiz

Kenann McKenzie-Thompson, Ph.D. Politics & Education The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: The Politics of Accountability and Building Civic Capacity in Four Schools in Maryland Dissertation Sponsor: Professor Jeffrey Henig

Dissertation Sponsor: Professor Madhabi Chatterji

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are in...

research , and the EPSA faculty who saw them through the long process. Marisol Cunnington, Ed.D. Sociology & Education

Mina Dadgar, Ph.D. Economics & Education

Examining the Importance of School Organizational Culture for Kindergarten Teaching and Learning: A Multi-Level Analysis

Essays on the Economics of Community College Students’ Academic and Labor Market Success

Dissertation Sponsor: Professor Aaron Pallas

Dissertation Sponsor: Professor Thomas Bailey

Michele Hodara, Ph.D. Economics & Education

Jonathan Gyurko, Ph.D. Politics & Education Teacher Voice Dissertation Sponsor: Professor Jeffrey Henig

Language Minority Students at Community College: How Do Developmental Education and English as a Second Language Affect Their Educational Outcomes? Dissertation Sponsor: Professor Henry Levin

Izumi Yamasaki, Ph.D. Economics& Education

Rachel Rosen, Ph.D. Leadership, Policy and Politics Concentration Shortage-Field Incentives: Impacts in Teacher Retention and Recruitment

The Effect of Education on Earnings and Employment in the Informal Sector in South Africa

Dissertation Sponsor: Professor Douglas Ready

Dissertation Sponsor: Professor Francisco Rivera-Batiz

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Priscilla “Penny” Wohlstetter


Ep Education Policy


GOOD EPSA is pleased to introduce Professor Priscilla “Penny” Wohlstetter, Distinguished Research Professor here at Teachers College, as the department’s newest affiliated faculty member. Professor Wohlstetter joins us from the University of Southern California, where she served as the Director of the Center on Educational Governance at the Rossier School of Education, as well as the Diane and MacDonald Becket Professor of Educational Policy. Professor Wohlstetter has been at Teachers College since the 2010-11 academic year, when she served as the college’s Tisch Distinguished Lecturer, and is now a Senior Research Fellow with CIPRE.


Professor Wohlstetter has spent much of her career examining networks - “what brings them together, and what sustains them over time.” This interest began in the 1990s, when she was involved in the Annenberg Challenge in Los Angeles, California. The Challenge invested in networks of schools within cities, which offered Wohlstetter the chance to look at the place-based networks formed in Social Analysis L.A. She was intrigued by the opportunities these connections offered for collaboration among educators. Teachers from grades K-12 were “exchanging lesson plans and sharing across grades, which accelerated reform.” Currently, she is particularly interested in the Children First networks that shape the New York City public school system. “A principal chooses a network and can change networks,” says Prof. Wohlstetter. This leads to “mild competition across networks” to attract schools and sustain relationships with them. School networks “take responsibility for professional development and curriculum, and help implement Common Core State Standards.” Prof. Wohlstetter’s article on the evolution of Children First networks, which she coauthored with a student, will be published in an upcoming Journal of Educational Administration. Wohlstetter’s research has also focused on charter schools. While piles of research studies had been conducted since the movement began in 1991, no one had looked across the studies to determine what was already known about charter schools and what still needs to be known. Wohlstetter sought to compare “charter schools’ intended consequences against their results, paying particular attention to the unintended consequences of the movement. Her book on the subject, Turning Up the Microscope on Charter Schools, will be published by Harvard Education Press. It includes interviews with researchers who’ve studied charter schools, including Professor Jeffrey Henig, EPSA department chair.

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Wohlstetter’s analysis of charter school research resulted in the creation of the CA Charter School Performance Dashboard, an interactive tool initially intended to help policymakers and the charter school community. The Dashboard allows users to compare twelve performance measures, including academic and financial data, to determine accountability. Over time, Prof. Wohlstetter notes, project members discovered that the Dashboard was being used in innovative and unexpected ways. Parents turned to the site while researching schools for their children, job-seeking teachers described it as “the best classified ads ever,” and policymakers and investors used the performance measures to determine the return on their investment. Professor Wohlstetter hopes to establish a similar dashboard for New York State, a project that is now in the planning stages.

Wohlstetter. “Only forty percent of students ended up graduating because of this enormous lift in expectations with no support.” In contrast, New York City takes a more measured approach to educational innovation. Here, says Prof. Wohlstetter, “it’s fun to see a district that uses an experimental approach.” New programs and methods are implemented “on a pilot scale . . . and researchers take a look at evaluations and how [programs] work,” modifying practices as necessary before scaling up. New York City was the first part of New York State to implement Common Core State Standards, and Professor Wohlstetter, along with three TC graduate students, has spent the past year investigating the city’s rollout implementation of CCSS.

Professor Wohlstetter finds that her research interests are a good fit within EPSA, since the department seeks to offer students a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to Priscilla Wohlstetter, Ph.D. educational issues. In a recent Currently, says Professor Wohlstetter, Distinguished Research Professor conversation with EPSA faculty “I’m interested in the ways that urban member and Community College Research Center districts approach education reforms.” She director Tom Bailey, Prof. Wohlstetter learned that notes that some of the innovations she wither research into the connection between Common nessed in L.A. were implemented city-wide Core standards for grades K-12 and college

CHEMISTRY without appropriate support. One example of this occurred when the city mandated that all high school students must meet admission requirements for the state university system in order to graduate. “There were no extra supports for this huge leap,” says Prof.

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readiness complements work being done by the CCRC, which is also examining this relationship. Connections like these are another way that Prof. Wohlstetter’s affiliation with the department will lead to opportunities for students, since her projects often encompass topics relevant across EPSA’s four academic programs.


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5:00 p.m. Reception, Everett Lounge 6:00 p.m. Discussion, Milbank Chapel

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What are you reading right now? The Housekeeper and the Professor

A Night to Remember

Yoko Gawa (The New Press, 2012)

Walter Lord (R&W Holt, 1955)

Doug Ready

Gladys Perez-Mojica

1Q84 Cutting for Stone

Haruki Murakami, (New York: Crown Business, 2012)

Abraham Verghese (New York: Knopf/Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010)

Emma Garcia Mystery Writers of America Presents Vengeance Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance Noam Chomsky ( City Lights Open Media, 2012)

“The Rand Change Agent Study Revisited: Macro Perspectives and Micro Realities”

Gosia Kolb Transatlantic Spectacles of Race

Jeffrey Henig

Lee Child, Editor (Mulholland Books, 2012)

Aaron Pallas The Death of Conservatism

M.W. McLaughlin

Educational Researcher Vol. 19 (9), p. 11 - 16. 2009.

Sam Tanenhaus ( Random House, 2009)

Kimberly Snyder Manganelli (Harville Secker, 2011)

Luis Huerta

Brooks Bowden Sherene Alexander

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Stay Connected All current students, alumni, faculty, and staff of EPSA are invited to submit essays, book reviews, professional updates, special events, and information of interest for possible inclusion in The EPSA-logue

The EPSA-logue is published once per semester, Fall, Spring, and Summer.

The deadlines for submission to The EPSA-logue are as follows: October 15th for the Fall publication March 15th for the Spring publication July 15th for the Summer publication

To submit, please e-mail: and include EPSA-logue in the subject line. Are you interested in supporting the department? There are a number of ways to stay involved and provide support. 

Please keep us in mind if you’d like to promote/advertise jobs, internships, and research opportunities for current students and graduates.


We have also established the EPSA General Gift Fund to support EPSA educational and research activities. If you’d like to make a donation, please make a check payable to Teachers College and write EPSA General Gift fund in the memo section and your accompanying note. Contact us for more information. E-mail: or phone: (212) 678-3165

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What’s Next? August

8/10, End of Summer Session B classes.

September 9/4, New Student Experience (Orientation) and in-person registration 9/5, Fall 2012 semester begins. First day of classes 9/19, TC/EPSA Roundtable Discussion: Beyond the Schoolhouse Doors: Bringing Non-School Factors into Education Policy. 5-7:30pm

October 10/11, Book Talk with Professor Prudence Carter, Stanford University Title: Stubborn Roots, 4:00-5:30pm

November 11/9 Open House for Prospective Students , 6:00-8:00pm

Check the website for the latest events: Id=Events&Info=EPSA+Sponsored+and+Co-Sponsored+Events

BOX 11, 525 WEST 120TH STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10027-6696 PHONE (212) 678-3165 ● FAX (212)678-3589 ● E-MAIL: EPSA@TC.COLUMBIA.EDU HTTP://WWW.TC.COLUMBIA.EDU/EPSA

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The EPSAlogue  

The Newsletter of the Department of Education Policy & Social Analysis at Teachers College, Columbia University