From Our Corner to the Four Corners of the Globe
The Magazine of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
W i n t e r 2012
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
FEAT URE from the dean
ight charter schools be part of the answer to the challenges facing America’s struggling public school systems? How can states implement teacher evaluation processes that improve student academic performance as well as reward and nurture good teachers? What is the future for No Child Left Behind, the most ambitious education reform initiative in decades? Our faculty and alumni are tackling those hard questions and many more. With new faculty, new grants, and new energy, the Ford School has built one of the nation’s top education policy programs. We’re training the next generation of education researchers and practitioners, from undergraduates through postdoctoral fellows. We’re conducting rigorous evaluations of education reform efforts—often in close collaboration with the U-M’s renowned School of Education, itself a national leader in teacher and administrator training. This edition of State & Hill features just a handful of our education impact stories. Alums, we know that many of you have moved education policy in important ways. We’d love to hear your impact stories: please write to us at email@example.com and we’ll post your stories online or in a future edition. Meanwhile, our own educational programs are flourishing. The PPIA Summer Institute just reached the thirty year mark—giving us a chance to reflect on the program’s impact on alumni such as Tosha Downey, now working to improve some of Chicago’s most underperforming schools (p. 14).
State & Hill Dean: Susan M. Collins Associate Dean: Alan V. Deardorff Director of Communications/Editor: Laura K. Lee (MPP ’96) Publications Manager: Katie Talik Lead writers: Erin Spanier and Ryan Pretzer (MPP ’12) Contributors: Kathryn Decker (MPP ’11), William Foreman, Cynthia Rathinasamy (MPP ’13), Sara Stevens (MPP ’13) Design: Savitski Design Photographers: Philip Dattilo, Peter Smith, U-M Photo Services Printer: University Lithoprinters, Inc. Let us know what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Editor, State & Hill, Ford School,
Our young BA program continues to graduate outstanding citizens, including several who were inspired by their Ford School coursework to join Teach for America (p. 9). Our MPP program attracts incredibly accomplished students such as Pallavi Shukla, who saw stark economic disparities in the educational opportunities for children in India—and responded by founding a high-performing school (p. 12). Finally, our joint PhD program turns ten years old in excellent shape, thanks in large part to the efforts of founding director Mary Corcoran (p. 17). For alumni and other friends of the Ford School, that’s a lot to be proud of. For me—honored and delighted to have been reappointed for a second term as the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of the Ford School—it’s an inspiration to work hard for even bigger things to come. In October alone, we hosted the President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, and the House Majority Leader, Congressman Eric Cantor. Both events spurred dialogue—even a lively debate. Both engaged the wider University community. Both reflected our growing visibility as one of the best policy schools in America. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and look forward to much more in the years to come. You’ll be hearing more soon about my vision and priorities for my second term—and about the many ways we’ll call on our alumni and friends to be part of strengthening the quality of our educational programs, growing the expertise of our faculty, and engaging with real-world policy challenges. Sincerely,
University of Michigan, 735 S. State Street, Ann Arbor MI 48109-3091
Susan M. Collins
Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy Regents of the University of Michigan Julia Donovan Darlow, Ann Arbor Laurence B. Deitch, Bingham Farms Denise Ilitch, Bingham Farms Olivia P. Maynard, Goodrich Andrea Fischer Newman, Ann Arbor Andrew C. Richner, Grosse Pointe Park S. Martin Taylor, Grosse Pointe Farms Katherine E. White, Ann Arbor Mary Sue Coleman (ex officio)
The University of Michigan, as an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action. The University of Michigan is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions. Inquiries or complaints may be addressed to the Senior Director for Institutional Equity, and Title IX/Section 504/ADA Coordinator, Office of Institutional Equity, 2072 Administrative Services Building, Ann Arbor, Michigan 481091432, 734-763-0235, TTY 734-647-1388. For other University of Michigan information call 734-764-1817.
& Waiting for Superman 4 Dynarski, Jacob evaluate Michiganâ€™s charter schools
How to Evaluate Teachers 7 An op-ed by Professor Brian Jacob
On the Front Lines 9 BA grads enter Teach for America
Ten Years After NCLB 11 Two alums reflect on school accountability
Opportunities for All 12 MPP student builds school in India
In addition PPIA Program Celebrates Thirty Years of Impact 14 Waltz Monitors First Arab Spring Elections 16 Joint PhD Program Reaches Ten Year Mark 17 Public Service in the City 18 A Q&A with Philanthropist and Entrepreneur David Bohnett 20 Military Minds: Veterans Return to the Classroom 22 From the Great Hall to the Great Wall 24
Departments Faculty News & Awards 26 Class Notes 28 The Last Word: Sheldon Danziger 30
Focus: Education Policy 4
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Waiting for Superman: the sequel Whether we believe in charter schools or harbor our reservations, the fact remains that they’re a vital part of our nation’s education landscape. Today, some 5,000 charters across America enroll 1.6 million children, and those numbers are increasing steadily. With that kind of scale, it’s critical to understand the effects of charters on the educational outcomes of the children they serve. Which charter school models produce the best outcomes for students? Which policies and programs do these highly effective charters employ? University Preparatory Academy
Along with the controversies, we hear more and more about the successes. Waiting for Superman, the acclaimed documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim, made a national splash last year. Critics of the film, however, accused it of oversimplifying the effect of charter schools, focusing exclusively on the most successful urban charters and the least successful traditional public schools, and failing to illuminate why some charters are yielding such incredible results. “We need another movie,” wrote critic David Denby of The New Yorker, “one that shows us why some charter schools work and others don’t.” That’s a sequel Ford School faculty Susan M. Dynarski and Brian A. Jacob are likely to inform. »»»
Forgive us if we begin with a definition, but there’s a great deal of confusion about what a charter school is, and what it’s not. Charter schools are not private or forprofit schools, and they aren’t exclusive. By law, charters aren’t permitted to turn students away based on race, socioeconomic status, or previous academic performance. Charter schools are, quite simply, public schools freed from some of the regulations that guide traditional publics. In short, in exchange for a limited charter (one that can be revoked if they fail to meet performance expectations), charters have been given more freedom to experiment, to craft their own curricula, and to test new policies and procedures for school administration, student support, and academic expectations. It can’t be denied that sometimes these experiments fail, and charters are revoked. In Michigan, for example, 42 charter schools have been closed over the last 16 years. Sometimes, however, the latitude charters have when it comes to experimentation can yield incredible results. Case in point: urban, “no excuses” charter schools in Boston that are yielding, in Dynarski’s words, “absolutely enormous effects—large enough to close the black-white test score gap in three years.” What’s the magic behind these charter school successes? By taking advantage of a federally mandated lottery system—one that was specifically designed to eliminate bias when selecting new students at oversubscribed charter schools—education policy researchers like Dynarski and Jacob are hoping to find out.
Photo: university preparatory academy/Daymon Hartley, daymonjhartley.com
very day, news headlines across the nation highlight charter school controversies. Contentious laws in some states now permit 51 percent of parents in a low-performing public school to demand its conversion to a charter. Residents are up in arms about a newly proposed charter school, fearing it will draw students and funding away from the area’s long-standing elementary. Charter schools are spending way more on administrative expenses than their traditional public counterparts and, on average, don’t seem to be yielding better educational returns. The list goes on.
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Susan M. Dynarski
By federal law, oversubscribed charter schools across the nation are required to select their students randomly. Just as dramatized in Waiting for Superman, school administrators are required to do this in a public forum, inviting parents and community members to observe as they draw names or numbers from boxes or ping pong balls from cages. “Ultimately, it’s that chance, that flip of the coin, that makes a near-perfect laboratory for studying the effects of charter schools on student outcomes,” says Dynarski. After all, given a large enough sample size in which chance is the only factor that separates a charter school student from her traditional public counterpart, you’ve eliminated everything but the treatment: charter education. »»» Last year, Dynarski and Jacob received a grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation to track the outcomes of tens of thousands of students who enrolled in charter school lotteries throughout the state of Michigan. Over the next two years, they’ll study the outcomes of the winners and losers of those lotteries, looking specifically at academic achievement, high school graduation, and college enrollment. They’ll strip the names, so each individual student and his school remains anonymous. And they’ll analyze the results, in hopes of identifying the
Brian A. Jacob
Then, with all of that data in hand, Dynarski and Jacob will attempt to tease out the most effective school practices. For example, if they discover that the charter schools with the greatest impact are using a particular curriculum, mandating a longer school day, or controlling class size, they’ll disseminate that information broadly. After all, the most effective practices are likely to be of interest to all public schools—charter or traditional. »»» While charter school research like this is of interest across the nation, and indeed, is being conducted across the nation, it just so happens that Michigan is a great place to study charters. With 242 charters enrolling 110,000 students (about 7 percent of the state’s K-12 population), Michigan has one of the largest and fastest growing charter populations in the country. When Dynarski conducted a similar study with colleagues in Massachusetts, only 21 of the state’s 86 middle and high school charter schools had sufficient lottery data to be included in her research. Three months into the Michigan study, in comparison, Dynarski and Jacob have identified more than twice that number, and are only half way through the state’s charter schools. Perhaps even more exciting is an aspect of the Michigan study that no other researchers have attempted at this scale: a focus on college-going and completion. Because
bout 85 percent of Michigan’s students graduate from high school, and 71 percent of those graduates go to college, but a much lower share of them actually finish college.
state’s most successful charters as measured by student academic performance and educational attainment.
In addition, Jacob and Dynarski will study the charter schools themselves. They’ll ascertain each school’s focus—whether it’s college prep, arts education, language skills, or character development. They’ll study the length of their school day, the length of their school year, and the size of their classes. They’ll look at programs and policies regarding parental involvement, teacher training, curriculum development, student support, and more.
Jacob and Dynarski have worked extensively with Michigan’s education community to construct a powerful database to track and research postsecondary education outcomes, the pair hope to incorporate statewide postsecondary data that would allow them to understand what percentage of charter school graduates are going on to college, which two- or four-year institutions they’re attending, which degrees they’re pursuing, how they’re faring academically, and whether or not they’re graduating. About 85 percent of Michigan’s students graduate from high school, and 71 percent of those graduates go to college, but a much lower share of them actually finish
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
»»» Dynarski and Jacob have employed one of their star alumni, 2010 Staebler Education Fund Intern Mahima Mahadevan (MPP ’11), to manage the charter school research project. A Michigan native and recent Ford School graduate, Mahadevan is visiting each of Michigan’s 242 charter schools to discuss the study, understand each
school’s enrollment trends and lottery data, and collect relevant records. Since mid-July, when Mahadevan began her site visits, her 2007 Chevy Cobalt has put on 6,171 miles in the effort. On a beautiful fall day, Mahadevan visited the University Preparatory Academy in downtown Detroit for a meeting with the non-profit charter management organization’s new CEO, Lesley Redwine. “Charter schools have been around for 15 years, and they’ve had the freedom to do things differently,” Mahadevan explained. “Now it’s time to take stock of that, and see what we can find out about which practices are working.” Redwine, a Detroit native and University of Michigan alumna (‘93), is game. Recruited to the charter management organization from Achievement First,
The Ford School: a national leader Long known for having excellent faculty with joint appointments at the U-M’s world-class School of Education, the Ford School has enjoyed a reputation for generating important, policy-relevant research on education issues. Now, we’re a national leader in the field of education policy. Over the past few years, new faculty and new funding have spurred work on an incredibly wide range of topics. Here is an overview of just some of the innovative, policy-oriented education research underway at the Ford School: David K. Cohen is John Dewey Collegiate Professor of Education
and professor of public policy. His current research interests include educational policy, the relations between policy and instruction, and the improvement of teaching. University Librarian and Dean of Libraries Paul N. Courant’s current academic work considers the economics of universities, libraries, and archives, as well as the effects of new information technologies on scholarship, scholarly publication, and academic libraries. In addition to their evaluation of Michigan’s charter schools (see p. 4), Susan M. Dynarski and Brian A. Jacob are collaborating on a number of projects, including: • A 5-year, $687,000 federal grant that enabled the launch of a new postdoctoral training program at the Ford School and the School of Education, providing fellows with rigorous training in
the education research sciences. The program will train a total of five postdoctoral students for two years each. • A $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences to explore how postsecondary education impacts employment outcomes. • A $5.9 million federal grant to study state education reforms. Researchers at the U-M and Michigan State University—in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Education—are using the funding to assess two education reforms designed to promote college attendance and workplace success. Associate Professor of Public Policy and Sociology David J. Harding is doing work on for-profit colleges and educational attainment. Professor Edie N. Goldenberg ’s most recent book is Off-Track Profs: The Rise of the Teaching Specialist in Higher Education (with John Cross, MIT Press, 2009). The book examines the growth in the number of teaching faculty off the tenure track at ten distinguished research universities, identifies the forces driving this trend and the consequences for academic life, and offers recommendations to university leaders for monitoring and managing their faculty workforce. Professor Brian P. McCall is an associate editor of Economics of Education Review. He is currently studying the effects of financial aid on college outcomes.
Photo: Mahima Mahadevan (MPP ’11)
Fo c us Ed uc ati o n P o l i c y
college, explains Dynarski. “Only about half the kids who go to college graduate, so decreasing that rate of dropout and improving completion rates is pretty important.” By understanding which charter school models are most successful, and the policies and procedures these charter schools are employing, the study should uncover useful data on what’s working best.
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another successful charter group in New York City, Redwine explains why she returned to Detroit. “My investment, and why I came here, is to strengthen the schools and to really make them more responsive so our kids can go to more competitive colleges and universities.” After working out a way to minimize staff time in gathering the lottery data, Redwine peppers Mahadevan with questions about the study, and questions she hopes the study will answer. “Hearing from other charters about who’s doing what, how they’re doing it, and what’s working? I’m very, very interested,” she says. “We have to really understand how we can make our schools better.” It’s a hope that Mahadevan has heard again and again, and one that Jacob and Dynarski mean to address. “We’re really most interested in looking not simply at the overall impact of charter schools, but in learning more about the policies and practices that are responsible for the positive impact,” explains Jacob.“That’s something that can inform things going forward, rather than just making an evaluation of what’s happened in the past.” ■ Susan Dynarski is Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Ford School and Associate Professor of Education at the School of Education. Brian Jacob is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy at the Ford School.
Assistant Research Scientist Isaac McFarlin is undertaking an evaluation of the consequences of acrossthe-board tuition subsidies offered by community colleges on college attainment and labor market success. Assistant Professor Kevin Stange is currently doing research on a number of topics in education, including investigating the importance of amenities vs. academic quality in college choice, colleges' use of differential tuition, and the importance of K-12 funding to student achievement and teacher mobility. Lecturer Megan Tompkins-Stange is doing research focused on philanthropic foundations as political actors in the field of public education policy. Maris A. Vinovskis , the U-M Bentley Professor of History,
ISR research professor, and professor of public policy, has done groundbreaking work on 45 years of federal efforts to reduce the achievement gap for disadvantaged Americans. He has authored or co-authored ten books, the most recent being From a Nation at Risk to No Child Left Behind: National Education Goals and the Creation of Federal Education Policy (Teachers College Press, 2008). More: fordschool.umich.edu/faculty
Teacher evaluation: the devil is in the details By Brian A. Jacob
wo years ago, Race to the Top offered states an opportunity to vie for billions of dollars in federal education funding by instituting a host of reforms, including the development of teacher evaluation systems tied directly to student performance. Today, nearly all states are moving forward to develop such systems, which generally incorporate value-added measures of teacher effectiveness, or VAMs, that evaluate teachers based on the academic growth of their students. But the devil is in the details. As states and districts begin to work out the finer points of these new systems, and to incorporate value-added measures into their assessments, they should do their homework, incorporating five key lessons from those who’ve been down this road before:
Comprehensive evaluation requires both classroom observation and value-added measures. Classroom
observations are a critical form of teacher assessment because they capture an educator’s classroom management and instructional skills, and assess a teacher’s likely influence on hard-to-measure outcomes like critical thinking and love of learning. Moreover, observations offer teachers valuable feedback on how to improve their teaching going forward, rather than simply evaluating their prior performance. Valueadded measures, however, are just as important. Critics of VAMs contend that they aren’t reliable enough to be used for high-stakes decisions. Yet, as noted in a recent Brookings Institution policy brief, VAMs are as reliable as performance measures used in other occupations. For example, VAMs bounce around from year to year about as much as the batting average of a professional baseball player, but no one would argue that a manager of a baseball team should ignore a player’s batting average when determining whether to recruit or trade him. Value-added measures, when used in conjunction with other important assessment tools, provide strong evidence of a teacher’s effectiveness, or lack thereof. States must take the lead when it comes to development of VAMs. Most small and even mid-sized districts simply do not have the financial or technical capacity to design valid and reliable value-added measures for teachers. Some states—including my home state of Michigan—have decided to delegate this responsibility to districts, perhaps due to shrinking state resources or perhaps out of a desire to allow local control. While the motivation behind this delegation is understandable, this means that many districts will end up using simplistic measures that don’t help school administrators distinguish between teachers. Some districts in Michigan, for
University Preparatory Academy
example, are opting to use school-level measures of student achievement—rather than teacher-level measures—to satisfy the legislative requirement of an achievement-based evaluation. Such measures may serve some purposes, but do not allow administrators to distinguish between teachers within a school. Worse still, other districts will develop invalid or unreliable measures that not only lead to bad personnel decisions, but also sour the public and educators on any form of teacher evaluation. Standards matter. There have been many protracted debates
about whether and how to use value-added measures in teacher evaluation. However, the issue of where to set the bar for proficiency or excellence hasn’t been discussed. An evaluation system could be based exclusively on a teacher value-added indicator and, depending on where the cutoffs are set, still fail to distinguish between effective and ineffective teachers. The concern here is analogous to the issue of state-set proficiency levels under NCLB: many states set very low standards of proficiency so that almost all students meet the standards, whether or not they have actually reached a level of proficiency that will help ensure their future success. As we move forward with the “new generation” of teacher evaluation, we need to be mindful not to recreate the undifferentiated, and thus meaningless, teacher assessments that have characterized education to date. Triage to balance the costs and benefits of different forms of teacher assessment. The financial and time costs
of different components of teacher evaluation vary dramatically. Statistical measures of a teacher’s contribution to student learning can be quite cheap to calculate, particularly if states provide the technical expertise and take advantage of economies of scale. On the other hand, gathering high-quality and reliable measures of teacher practice through classroom observation is considerably more expensive because current research suggests that it’s critical to observe a teacher multiple times during the course of the school year, and that the training of expert
observers is equally important. At the same time, many observers have voiced concern about low reliability in some value-added measures, and the risk of inadvertently dismissing a teacher on the basis of a low value-added score. One way to alleviate this concern is to use the triage approach often associated with medicine. Value-added indicators might serve as a relatively inexpensive but coarse gauge of teacher effectiveness. New teachers, and those who receive a very low score on a value-added measure, could receive classroom observations as the more expensive, but presumably more reliable, measure of effectiveness. Continual experimentation and evaluation is critical.
Federal and state policymakers envision monumental change in the way teacher evaluations are conducted; however, this is an immensely complicated issue with many moving parts, and the details matter quite a bit. There are some models of comprehensive teacher assessment systems, including Denver ProComp and the Teacher Advancement Program, and the beginnings of a research base. States and districts should rely on some of these models as they start to develop their own. But, at the same time, they need to do continuous research and be willing to adapt systems and policies as they learn what does and doesn’t work. If states and districts rush forward without thinking through the details, or attempt to create reform on the cheap, they will raise the ire of teacher unions and parents, inadequately assess teacher performance, and fail to accomplish their main objective: long-term student success. Value-added measurement systems can help reward and nurture our teachers and improve educational outcomes for our students, provided they are carefully selected and rolled out, and then continuously improved to ensure their success. ■
Photo: University Preparatory academy/Daymon Hartley, daymonjhartley.com
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s we move forward with the “new generation” of teacher evaluation, we need to be mindful not to recreate the undifferentiated, and thus meaningless, teacher assessments that have characterized education to date.
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On the front lines Teach for America a destination for service-minded Ford School undergraduates
lam Lantz entered the Ford School with an eye on the biggest of policymaking stages, Washington, DC. But he soon reassessed his approach to making the world a better place.
“I realized I needed to be on the front lines, in the trenches, for a few years,” said Lantz (BA ’10). “I needed to be able to affect change on a smaller level before I would feel comfortable or confident doing it on a bigger level.” Lantz decided to make an immediate impact with Teach For America (TFA), which trains recent college graduates of all disciplines to teach in low-income rural and urban school districts. He’s now in his second year working with special-needs students at an elementary school in the Bronx. According to the organization’s website, more than 9,300 TFA corps members will teach 600,000 students during the 2011-12 school year. Teach For America has become an increasingly popular postgraduate option for the Ford School’s BA students, who confront real-world policy problems head on and learn something about themselves in the process. “I didn’t plan on doing this at all,” said Amanda Canvasser (BA ’10), who spoke to a TFA recruiter her senior year and now teaches social studies at Crockett High School on Detroit’s east side. “I never really thought of myself as someone who was a die-hard education advocate.”
Atop the Empire State Building: Lantz (back left) and his students on a class trip.
Lantz credited Professor Sheldon Danziger ’s social inequality policy seminar and Professor Brian Jacob’ s education policy seminar for piquing his interest in Teach For America. “Both of those classes were directly applicable to my decision,” he said. “We had a TFA representative come speak to [Jacob’s] class and I got very excited about the work she was describing.” Emma Uman (BA ’09) said Danziger’s seminar provided insight into the obstacles her students faced outside the classroom.
“That really opened my mind to issues affecting people who live in poverty, who tend to be the same families you work with in Teach For America,” said Uman, who now works in the Washington, DC office of U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA). Uman had an eye on Teach For America after hearing TFA founder and CEO Wendy Kopp speak on campus her sophomore year. Kopp’s message of education equality resonated with Uman. Her older brother had attended Seattle’s faltering public schools, which convinced their parents to put Emma on another path. “I went to private school my whole life and definitely saw what a great education I got, but also realized I was really lucky my parents had that option,” said Uman, who spent her two-year TFA commitment teaching second grade in San Jose, California.
Uman on a field trip with her second grade students in California.
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TFA corps members also continue their own education, often taking classes to receive a master's degree in education as a condition of the program. (Lantz and Canvasser are both doing so.) But it's the lessons learned as they attempt to overcome barriers hindering public education that really hit home. Lantz said he has combated the misconceptions of parents and administrators, who believe students who have trouble learning in traditional classroom settings “should be kicked out of the classroom.” He spent last year in a fifth-grade special education classroom and now works in small groups with third and fourth graders who need extra help with reading or math. “There are a lot of students who I think would benefit from learning in different ways and would be able to demonstrate that they’re capable and intelligent through other means than standardized testing,” he said. “It’s very frustrating for me.” Uman, who recalled her school closed for five days due to a state budget shortfall, said “there are a lot of systemic problems that prevent teachers from being the best they can be.” “It’s a funding issue, and it’s a leadership gap in terms of administration and principals,” she said. “I think some of the contract policies that have been negotiated between unions and districts are not necessarily what’s best for kids. But nobody’s really talking about the intricacies of what’s created the system that we have.”
At times, Teach For America provides a forum to get into those issues. At a recent TFA training, Canvasser said they discussed how Detroit Public Schools started to decline when the parents of today’s students were attending classes, and how that has contributed to a culture of undervaluing education. “There’s not that motivation to get out and do well and go to college, and the students are so far behind,” said Canvasser, who grew up in the affluent suburb of West Bloomfield, a 25-minute drive from Detroit. “It’s night and day, and it’s so sad to see these students don’t have the same opportunity just because they were born in a different city.” Frustrations aside, Lantz and Canvasser both said they’d like to remain involved in education when they complete their two-year TFA commitments this summer. “I would want there to be some teaching component,” said Lantz, who would like to be a private tutor with special-needs students if he decides to go back to school after TFA. “I really enjoy working with kids with disabilities. It's something I didn't know I would enjoy.” Though she focused on Middle Eastern policy at the Ford School, studying Arabic and international policy, Canvasser wants to work on education reform in the future. Turns out she might be an advocate after all. “I see education as the trickle-down to all the other issues in society,” she said. “You can’t add more jobs to a city unless people are educated; you can’t solve international problems unless you’re educated—it all goes back to that. It’s definitely changed my focus and my policy interests.” ■
think some of the contract policies that have been negotiated between unions and districts are not necessarily what’s best for kids. But nobody’s really talking about the intricacies of what’s created the system that we have.”
Crockett High School in Detroit. Photo: Lindsey Yeo
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Ten years after No Child Left Behind Two alums reflect on school accountability
resident Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced a new waiver system in September, the latest attempt to alleviate the burden felt by the 20 percent of schools labeled “failing” under No Child Left Behind, the largest education reform of the decade.
First passed in 2001, NCLB is changing how our nation thinks about school accountability. It’s also forcing us to reconsider “how we measure what it means to be a good school,” says 2002 Frey Foundation Fellow Alexa Shore (MPP ’04), deputy director for the Office of Accountability at the New York City Department of Education. “The bottom line is we haven’t gotten as far as we thought we would get with No Child Left Behind, and now the issue is what to do about it,” says Charlie Toulmin (MPP ’90), director of policy at the influential Nellie Mae Education Foundation, which promotes student-centered learning approaches in New England schools. “What to do” is exactly what Toulmin and Shore are attempting to figure out. When Shore first joined the New York City Department of Education in 2006, the city had already decided that NCLB alone wasn’t enough to accurately evaluate the performance of its roughly 1,600 schools and 1 million students. Shore helped reformulate the system to examine not simply the static achievement of students (i.e., standardized test scores) but also to measure the growth students demonstrated during their education.
Photo: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla
“[New York City] has a lot of high-achieving schools where students were scoring in the 99th percentile on state tests, but those scores were primarily measuring what students bring to school already, not what schools contribute to students,” Shore said. “Then there are some schools that have been doing amazing things but weren’t recognized for them because their students were unable to get above some proficiency bar, despite making significant progress.” The results of the new accountability reports stunned school administrators, parents, and community groups. Schools previously considered high-achieving received low marks; schools once deemed failing received A’s. Shore called it, “a really big culture shift—a major mind-shift about what it means to be a good school.”
Third and fourth graders watch U.S. President Barack Obama as he asks them what they are reading during their lunch period at Viers Mill Elementary School October 19, 2009 in Silver Spring, Maryland. The elementary school was named a 2005 National Title I No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon school.
Shore is currently focused on reforming teacher and principal evaluations, a topic she says is “exciting and very important.” Shore and her department developed a four-point scale that would give teachers more meaningful feedback by providing multiple evaluations during the year. Teachers then have the chance to implement suggestions, rather than receiving an annual grade. “We used to have a system where teachers were rated either satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and the vast majority of our teachers were rated satisfactory,” she said. New York City implemented the new teacher evaluation process in about 110 schools this year on a trial basis, with the potential to go citywide. Toulmin expects innovative states like New York to drive the nation’s education system toward two key goals: setting realistic targets for student achievement and finding ways to properly gauge progress by lower performing schools and students. Reframing school accountability requires “bringing meaning back to the school achievement labels,” he says. The primary shortcoming is that NCLB labels are unable to adequately acknowledge when a school has made marked improvements, “so much so,” Toulmin notes, “that [the label] almost doesn’t mean anything anymore.” As a result, many of the same schools that were deemed “low-performing” five years ago remain labeled as “lowperforming” today. Ultimately, Toulmin says, accountability systems should look to the finish line: college and career readiness. “Maybe a new approach is to create an accountability system that asks, not next year, not the year after that, not at some random point, but instead over time,” says Toulmin, “are states helping every kid to that readiness goal by the end of high school?” ■ Ford School professor Brian Jacob has evaluated the impact of NCLB on student achievement. Read the report and watch Brian talk about his research here: fordschool.umich.edu/nclb.
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Fo c us Ed uc ati o n P o l i c y
MPP student Pallavi Shukla builds a school in Lakhimpur, Uttar Pradesh
urga, the Hindu goddess of power, is often depicted mounted on a tiger, her eight arms loaded for bear with a trident, a sword, a thunderbolt, a spear.... Some say this powerful goddess was born of the gods’ fury over an illiterate demon who was wreaking havoc on Earth. Pallavi Shukla ’s first student (pictured left), was named Durga. Ironic, says Shukla, since Durga couldn’t write the alphabet when they started. “She was a great student, and she picked up everything very quickly,” Shukla explains, “but she’d had a spotty education and needed to get back on track.” »»» Just out of college, 2011 Riecker Fellow Pallavi Shukla found a job in New Delhi developing patches for Microsoft. As an electronics and telecommunications engineer, the work was ideal. But it wasn’t enough for Shukla, who loved working with people, and wanted to get out from behind a desk and do something. Education, she thought, had given her the tools she needed to move to a big city and make a lot of money, but also to decide what she wanted to do with her life. As such, she reasoned, it would be a powerful way to make a difference in the lives of India’s poor. It’s not that India doesn’t have schools for the poor, Shukla explains, but that the country’s public schools are almost entirely attended by the poor, while the country’s private schools cater to the wealthy. “I could ask a kid which school he goes to, and I could tell the economic strata his parents belong to,” says Shukla. She describes asking poor children what they wanted to be when they grew up, and hearing them say farmers, housewives, or bus conductors. When she asked her cousins, though, they would say doctors and astronauts. Durga, one of Shukla’s first students at the BPS Public School.
“When poor kids go to schools for the poor, their world view isn’t broadened by education,” Shukla explains. “Education should teach them not only to expect good things, but to reject what’s not right.” In addition, the families of India’s poor, first-generation students haven’t been very effective at holding teachers accountable for quality education. In general, they don’t expect much of teachers, or have high hopes that education will provide their children with a path out of poverty. Photo: Pallavi Shukla (mpp '13)
S T A T E & HILL
Shukla and her students en-route to a study tour of a nearby national park.
Shukla convinced her father and uncles to donate a large family property in Lakhimpur, one of the 100 poorest rural areas in India, and to help her build a school there. What was far more difficult, she recalls, was convincing local families to send their children. Parents would tell her, “Our daughters aren’t going to get an education and get a job in the government; they’re going to get married, and do household chores. They might as well start early.” »»» In time, however, Shukla recruited her students. First the girls, whom she taught outside by day while she and her father watched the builders construct the school at night. Later, the boys. “It was much easier to convince the parents of the boys,” recalls Shukla, tellingly. In time, the school’s teachers and teaching methods began to attract the children of wealthy families as well—allowing Shukla to implement a sliding fee scale. By having wealthier families subsidize the education of those who couldn’t afford to pay, the school has become financially self-sustaining, and has created an integrated model in a country actively struggling to break the barriers between haves and have-nots. Today, the Balbhadra Prasad Shukla (BPS) Public School enrolls 700 K-8 children, employs 34 teachers and a number of administrators, and is overseen by a school board (Shukla continues to serve on the board). Shukla and her board recently lobbied their state representative to introduce and support a local bill that would require wealthy schools to fill 25 percent of their seats with children below the poverty line. A former teacher, the state representative didn’t take much convincing, says Shukla, in praise of his support. Still, the pace of change can be frustratingly slow. »»» Pallavi Shukla is now a first-year master’s student focusing on education policy at the Ford School. After founding the BPS Public School, she went on to earn a master’s degree in rural management, to lead educational initiatives for indigenous populations in the state of Gujarat, and to work with Ford School alumna Tannistha Datta (MPA ‘09) implementing UNICEF’s child protection agenda in the state. She hopes to return to India to develop and support policies that will improve the education system for all of the country’s children—rich and poor alike. ■
hen poor kids go to schools for the poor, their world view isn’t broadened by education,” Shukla explains. “Education should teach them not only to expect good things, but to reject what’s not right.” Pallavi Shukla
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Fo c us Ed uc ati o n P o l i c y
PPIA: 30 years of preparing leaders Bright, energetic, and compassionate, Tosha Downey—one of more than 4,000 graduates of the national Public Policy and International Affairs program—is deeply engaged in Chicago’s south side renaissance, and in dramatically improving educational opportunities for children in some of the city’s most challenged urban communities.
hen I reach Tosha Downey (MPP ’96) on her cell phone, she’s navigating Chicago’s south side to pick up a former student for a group intervention.
“Hands down,” says Downey of the 19-yearold she’s meeting, “this girl was one of the most promising kids we worked with.” After graduation, though, she moved out of the community where we ran our program; it wasn’t long before she found herself in trouble. Downey is hoping today’s meeting will help get her back on track. I make the mistake of asking if Downey considers this young woman one of her failures. Downey’s response is polite, but instantaneous. “She’s 19,” Downey says. “It’s hard to declare a failure at 19.” Still, Downey acknowledges that this is a community failure, a school failure, an organizational failure, and an environmental failure. “The thing that’s crazy is that this is a community in which we invested over $100 million dollars, to make sure that kids could go to high school, and to college. But if the kids don’t realize that these kinds of opportunities are open to them, then we’ve failed. They have to realize that the world is bigger than the four blocks around them.” »»» Downey is one of more than 600 alumni of the Ford School’s Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute—a national initiative launched by the Sloan Foundation 30 years ago to help underrepresented minorities prepare for graduate school and, ultimately, leadership roles in public service.
Ford School Professor Carl Simon —who taught calculus, pre-calculus, and advanced economics in the program for more than two decades—says the Sloan Foundation’s vision was just right. “If you want more minorities in high-level public sector positions—and you do if you want government and non-profit leaders to reflect the diverse communities they serve—you need to get them into policy schools.” The program, says Simon, “was incredibly ingenious. And it worked.” At participating universities across the nation, some 4,000 college juniors have been through PPIA’s free, sevenweek summer institute, which focuses on the core skills students require to gain admittance to, and succeed in, a graduate-level policy program. Classes introduce students to timely policy topics, help hone their writing and math skills, get them ready for the GRE, and prepare them for graduate-level statistics and economics courses. Since the PPIA program was launched in 1981, more than 15 percent of the 4,000 graduates, like Downey, have completed their summer institute right here at the Ford School—many of them studying with longtime faculty members like Carl Simon, John Chamberlin, Mary Corcoran, Paul Courant, Sheldon Danziger, Alan Deardorff, Edie Goldenberg, and Janet Weiss. What these PPIA students accomplish when they leave the institute and finish graduate school—the vast majority of them do complete master’s degrees in public policy and international affairs—has been impressive. Today, alumni of the program include foreign service officers with USAID, senior policy advisors at the United Nations, community development managers for major banks, program managers at national nonprofit advocacy groups, and more. »»»
Left: Tosha Downey. Right: Students from the class of 2011 PPIA Junior Summer Institute at the Ford School’s 30th anniversary celebration.
Ford School Spotlight S T A T E & HILL
For Downey, participation in the PPIA program helped her land leadership roles with some of Chicago’s most innovative nonprofits working to improve educational and life opportunities for children in the city’s toughest neighborhoods. But Downey doubts she’d have had the opportunity to do this kind of work without the summer institute.
A lively lecture The Ford School hosted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in a highly publicized lecture and Q&A session attended by the U-M president and regents, and audience members from both sides of the aisle.
When Downey entered the seven-week summer institute in 1993, she was a junior at Clark Atlanta University, studying to be a middle school English and math teacher and, through Upward Bound, providing pre-college counseling to high school students who would soon be the first in their family to attend college. It was an important job—just like teaching, the career Downey was planning to pursue—but one that offered limited growth prospects, and opportunities to make only incremental changes, one student at a time. The PPIA program helped Downey understand the larger socioeconomic and societal factors contributing to educational inequity, and the programs and policies that seemed to be helping turn schools and communities around. She took courses in quantitative analysis, which taught her to evaluate program outcomes rigorously, and education policy, which exposed her to policies that were combating inequity, fostering innovation, and in some cases, creating systemic change. After completing the PPIA Summer Institute—then known as the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Program—Downey went on to earn her master’s in public policy from the Ford School in 1996, where she deepened her knowledge of policy and analysis. On graduation, she was hired as a research fellow for the Patrick & Shirley Ryan Family Foundation and became operations director for Chicago’s Alain Locke Charter Academy, where she served as a founding member of the school leadership team for one of the most successful urban school charters in the United States.
Student commitment Student-athletes Mary Grace Pellegrini (BA ’12) and Simon Wenet (BA ’13) were honored for their commitment to academics and athletics and named to the 2011 Academic All-Big Ten Team.
Today, Downey is a recruitment manager for the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a non-profit organization charged with turning around some of Chicago’s most high need, chronically underperforming public schools. While the schools Downey works with might once have been categorized as ‘dropout factories,’ they’re now showing monumental gains in some of the key indicators of success.
Wenet Photo: U-M Athletics/Walt Middleton Photography
Pellegrini Photo: U-M Athletics/Daryl Marshke
»»» Across the nation, close to two dozen public policy schools once offered the free, junior summer institute that is the cornerstone of the PPIA program’s success. While the majority of those schools stopped doing so when external funding for the program was cut more than a decade ago, the Ford School never missed a beat. “We’re one of only two schools that has never missed a summer,” says Susan M. Collins , Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy. “When funding was pulled, the University of Michigan and the Ford School decided this was a program we were deeply committed to, and the decision was very, very clear.” “That’s a decision we’re all really proud of, and one we continue to support to this day.” ■
Out in public Jonathan Moore (MPP ‘12), Yann Toullec (MPP ‘12), and Jeff Kessner (MPP/ MUP ‘14) (L-R) spoke to community members at a National Coming Out Day event sponsored by the Ford School’s LGBTQ and ally group, Out in Public.
Photos, from top: Fishing boats in Mahdia, Tunisia; Waltz; A leaflet that reads: “Tunisia votes”; Men carry sardines from fishing boats to the market in Mahdia, Tunisia; Near the polling center in a small town in the Mahdia province.
Waltz monitors first Arab Spring elections Susan E. Waltz , a professor of public policy at the University
of Michigan, served as an observer in October’s historic elections in Tunisia—the nation that sparked the Arab Spring uprising with a surprise wave of street protests. Waltz, who teaches courses in human rights and politics at the Ford School and last year led the annual IEDP trip to Grenada, was part of the Carter Center’s Election Observer Mission working in the northern Africa country. “It is, of course, a real privilege to be here as an election observer,” Waltz said via email from Tunisia. “In just a few short months, Tunisians have undertaken a complete overhaul of their electoral system—everything from setting up a system of polling centers, creating a bureau of independent election officials, and registering people to vote.” Waltz’s work is another example of the University of Michigan’s deep interest and involvement in Africa. The University also provides fellowships to young African scholars and collaborates with engineering and public health projects across the continent. The October 23rd vote was the first free election since a massive uprising in January—fueled by anger over corruption and poverty—toppled the government of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled for 23 years. Voters cast ballots to elect a body that will write a new constitution and choose an interim government before more elections are held in about a year. The voting was complex, with some electoral districts having between 80 to 100 lists of candidates to choose from. Waltz said her vote-monitoring responsibilities included filling in a series of detailed checklists at polling stations in a district south of the capital, Tunis. Monitors paid close attention to whether polling stations are accessible, voters have time to cast ballots, procedures guard against duplicate voting, and adequate privacy is provided, among several other issues. ■
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Joint PhD program reaches ten year mark Founding director Mary E. Corcoran and others reflect on the program’s success Mary E. Corcoran
hen Mary E. Corcoran became program director of the Ford School’s fledgling joint doctoral program 10 years ago, she didn’t have a problem recruiting students.
They already were coming to her.
“For many years, all of us (at the Ford School) had been frustrated because we had students coming to us who wanted to do applied policy work in various departments,” said Corcoran, who stepped down as program director this fall. She remains on the faculty as professor of public policy, political science, and women’s studies. “We knew there was an audience of people—a group of smart students who wanted more training in how to do good public policy within their disciplines.” The Ford School’s joint doctoral program—in which candidates combine their public policy studies with disciplinary work in political science, economics, or sociology—remains a unique approach; just two other universities have similar models. Former students and faculty credit the program’s distinctive flavor to its longtime director. “Mary was the institutional power of the program,” said Scott Helfstein , a 2008 Ford School PhD graduate. “I couldn’t imagine a better person, or better driving force, to build the program.” Helfstein, like many of the early PhD candidates, was studying elsewhere at U-M when he called Corcoran about joining the Ford School.
Group Photo: Aaron Clamage
“All it took was one phone call,” said Helfstein, who had been in the doctorate program of the political science department. “The Ford School became a great outlet for me to learn about policy process, and talk to other people that were interested in policy.” Seven of the Ford School’s 12 inaugural PhD candidates were already enrolled in one of the other academic departments at Michigan, Corcoran said. “It just worked fine from day one. Michigan has extraordinarily strong social science departments, so they were already getting very good training, and the Ford School has people who do excellent policy research, so that worked with the students.” Helfstein said the Ford School prepared him “to understand both the substantive aspects of policy analysis,
as well as the reality of how the sausage gets made.” He is now director of research at the United States Military Academy at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center. The program’s 38 graduates have had impressive success on the job market, earning tenure-track faculty positions; prestigious post-doctoral fellowships; and research posts with organizations such as Mathematica Policy Research, the Gates Foundation, the Federal Reserve Board, and the State Department. As dean of the Ford School ten years ago, Rebecca Blank helped launch the program. She attributes much of the program’s immediate success to Corcoran’s intellectual breadth and engaging personality. “When you are going to set up a new program, you have to persuade people to come to a PhD program that didn’t exist and hasn’t graduated any students,” said Blank, currently the Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Under Secretary for Economic Affairs. “Mary has a very broad background: she can talk to economists, she can talk to sociologists, she can talk to political scientists, and understand something of all of those disciplines,” said Blank. “In addition, she is just deeply committed to working with students.” “You have to be the sort of person that people get excited about coming to see and to work with. She was really able to do that.” Looking back, Corcoran is proud of the legacy she leaves behind after 10 years—and proud of the graduates’ success. “I believed in every one of my students,” she said, “and every one of them proved me right.” ■
Ford School PhD alums gathered in Washington, DC in November.
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Bohn ett f el l ows
Public service in the city Bohnett Fellows learn to devise policy inside Detroit mayor’s office
lizabeth Palazzola and Julie Schneider knew Detroit pretty well even before last summer. Then they learned a whole new side of it—the inside—as members of Mayor Dave Bing’s administration.
“I've worked in Detroit in various capacities— with nonprofits, city agencies, state agencies, with the public on events and environmental issues—but what was really missing was the mayor’s office,” said 0 assistant 1 Palazzola, who spent three years as a research at Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Studies.
“I expected the mayor’s office to be a fast-paced environment, but in retrospect did not appreciate the daily demands on the executive staff,” Schneider said. “I gained an understanding of day-to-day operations and a greater respect for the team that carries them out.”
Palazzola and Schneider focused their energies on land use, housing, and sustainability projects. “People who work and live in the city are very interested in 2 environmental issues,” 4 Miles Palazzola said. “I think if you asked a random person around the United States, they would say Detroit is one of the dirtiest cities, not one of the greenest, and people are working to change that.”
“That was what I was most excited about, filling in that blank. I think now having done so I have an even greater Palazzola’s main Office, project was to recommend ways to Sources: Wayne County Treasurer's appreciation for the city.” expand the city’s curbside recycling services. After Detroit Planning & Development Department, U.S. Census (2000),evaluating two pilot programs, she found it might be most Giving talented, aspiring public servants experience in city government is the purpose of the David Bohnett Public efficient for the city to partner with community based by: Julie Schneider, Service Fellowship program. Palazzola andCreated Schneider education programs, such as Recycle Here!, that already email@example.com earned the distinction of becoming the Ford School’s provide recycling services. Mayor's inaugural Bohnett Public Service Fellows after eachOffice, had City of Detroit “There’s a difference between the cost of just putting a Created on: 08/02/2011 bin on the curb and picking it up and having a successful program, which has this whole outreach and education side. I think I was able to come up with some good figures,” Palazzola said. “Programs that were perceived to be inexpensive actually had major costs.” Palazzola and Schneider also teamed up to investigate one of Detroit’s most distressing problems—homeowners losing their homes due to unpaid property taxes. Schneider spearheaded relevant statistical analysis and spatial data mapping using Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Diana Flora and Stephanie Chang, 2011 recipients of the David Bohnett Public Service Fellowship.
lived and worked in the city for years. The fellowship provides full tuition and a summer internship in the Detroit mayor’s office. (The Bohnett Foundation also has fellows at UCLA and NYU.) From their new vantage point, Palazzola and Schneider, both second-year MPP candidates, encountered the realworld obstacles that policymakers often face, enriching their learning experience in city hall.
“Foreclosure prevention programs have been focused on mortgage foreclosures, but tax foreclosures in Detroit have increased in recent years,” Schneider said. “Tax foreclosures present neighborhood stability and financial issues that rival the mortgage crisis. It’s challenging because Detroit is now managing this issue on a greater scale than any other city.” The challenges weren’t limited to the policies themselves. The political battles and administrative intricacies of city hall complicated the projects as well. Mayor Bing’s contentious and drawn-out budget battle with the city council made it hard to get ahold of key officials at times, Palazzola said.
S T A T E & HILL
(L-R): Julie Schneider and Elizabeth Palazzola, inaugural Bohnett Public Service Fellows.
“It was nice to report to work the first day and hear, ‘Hey, Betsy, how are you doing?’” said Palazzola, who also had contacts with city agencies and environmental groups. “It’s a lot easier to ask, ‘What do you think of this program?’ When they know who you are, it makes that conversation go much more smoothly.”
“It was interesting to be inside the mayor’s office at that time because it was good to see how things work, how different people’s leadership styles work,” she said. “There’s a down side to that, though. It was an allconsuming topic, and so during those several weeks it was really hard to get anyone’s attention to move forward on any of the projects.” Getting the plentiful number of stakeholders, within city hall and without, on the same page also slowed momentum. “It affects every process at every level,” Schneider said of bureaucracy. “Coming in, just learning those processes was one of the challenges of being in that environment.” Both women relied on relationships from their prior work in Detroit to navigate hurdles that would have stymied less resourceful newcomers. Palazzola, while at Wayne State, had worked with her internship supervisor, Karla Henderson, city group executive for planning and facilities.
Ford School Spotlight
Schneider previously worked for Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership on Detroit’s east side and in donor relations for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, but it was the job she still holds—as softball coach at Cass Technical High School—that may have boosted her credibility most. “I think I was more easily accepted by other people; I was ‘one of them,’” she said. “That was helpful, especially since some of them were (Cass Tech) alums.” That network continues to grow with the incoming class of Ford School Bohnett Public Service Fellows: Stephanie Chang , who was Palazzola’s minority peer advisor during undergrad at U-M, and Diana Flora , who knew Schneider through the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. Asked how she would advise her successors, Palazzola didn’t hesitate. “City officials often have great ideas; they just need help moving their projects along. Find them,” she said. “If those officials know what they want to accomplish and how you can help them, you will be able to contribute a lot.” ■
The World Bank comes to Ann Arbor Robert B. Zoellick, president and CEO of the World Bank, shared the stage of the 2011 Citigroup Foundation Lecture with Ford School Dean Susan M. Collins, Associate Professor Dean Yang, and Professor Jan Svejnar for a conversation about developing economies.
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Q an d A
To the city and the world Philanthropist and entrepreneur David Bohnett reflects on technology, urban policy, and risk-taking policymakers
os Angeles-based David Bohnett is the founder and managing member of the early stage technology fund, Baroda Ventures. In 1994, he founded GeoCities.com, one of the original Internet success stories. He is chair-
man of the board of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and a trustee of amfAR, The American Foundation for AIDS Research, and of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The David Bohnett Foundation funds a wide variety of innovative programs in major cities across the U.S. At the Ford School, the Foundation supports a prestigious, competitive fellowship that provides two years of tuition support and a paid summer internship in the City of Detroitâ€™s mayorâ€™s office.
S T A T E & HILL
The Bohnett Fellowship provides well-trained interns to mayoral offices in several cities and fosters a commitment among policy graduates to work in cities. Why are urban policy issues important?
Technology continues to shrink the world. What opportunities and challenges does our increasing interconnectedness present for policymakers?
In ancient Rome, proclamations were addressed to the city and the world, “Urbi et Orbi.” That is our Foundation’s lens for social justice: to test programs in the city—the living, breathing, experimental hub of humanity—and then to bring those successes to the rest of the world. The issues that face our cities—from lack of educational and civic engagement opportunities to economic and social roadblocks—are the same issues that face all people, just on a larger scale. The Bohnett Mayoral Fellows and the countless others that they inspire
The opportunities are endless. If a policy solution is working across the state—or around the globe—you know about it. In real time. No longer do we have to wait years or decades to learn why something works or doesn’t. The challenge is how to take in that information and then make it work for you and your constituents. In a recent debate I heard someone say that Apple changes its product line every nine months—but it takes two decades for the defense department to do the same thing. That kind of message resonates with the public—they know how fast the world is moving. They see how technology has the ability to
through their work help solve some of the largest issues facing Detroit and Los Angeles and New York, and we hope those successes will be replicated in small towns and communities not just here in the U.S., but around the world.
change how we live and work and communicate. In addition, they increasingly demand that government move at that same rate; making that a reality is an enormous challenge for policymakers.
Your foundation’s grant helps the Ford School attract excellent students and strengthen our ties with Detroit. Why do you engage with the Ford School and other schools of public policy?
You’re an influential advocate for and analyst of LGBT civil rights issues. Where do you see that set of policy issues headed next?
First, I went to school here at Michigan to pursue my MBA— so I know the power and prestige of this university. And I know that when Mayor Bing and others in city hall learned that they could have, at no cost to them, graduate students who were passionate about solving some of the greatest public policy challenges Detroit faces, he and his team were more than enthusiastic about having those fellows from the Ford School among the senior ranks of their administration. The same is true in New York and Los Angeles. Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Villaraigosa have told me that without these fellows, key policy research would never get done. What is even more heartening to me is that the fellows who have graduated have all stayed in public service after school. Rather than run from the challenges our cities face, these fellows have embraced them. That, to me, is a true mark of how successful this program has become. Your professional career and your foundation’s approach to philanthropy are known as entrepreneurial and unafraid of risk. What role does entrepreneurship have in policymaking? Every elected and appointed leader I meet these days is an entrepreneur. They have to be. They are being asked to do more than ever—with fewer resources. Their ability to succeed—and by that I mean to deliver the goods and services of government to their constituents—demands that they be leaner, wiser, more experimental, and more willing to take calculated risks. “We’ve always done it that way” is no longer acceptable, and any official who says it is probably won’t have their job for very long.
Much like your question about the speed of technology, the speed of progress for the LGBT community here and around the world is astounding. I know that it’s easy to doubt that: when we suffer a loss at the ballot box on issues such as equality in adoption or marriage it’s easy to feel that we’re on the losing side of history. But when you really look at our victories at the federal, state, and local levels—from the great marriage win in New York to a record number of LGBT people serving in this current administration—I feel very confident that the volume and pace of our victories is only increasing. Is there a particular campus spot you’re sure to visit when you return to Ann Arbor? I really enjoy walking around Michigan’s wonderful campus and the town of Ann Arbor—so many fond memories come back from my time here. The Spectrum Center in the Michigan Union is a favorite destination, as I worked there while in graduate school and had the good fortune to learn from and get to know Jim Toy, the center’s co-founder. ■
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
M aster’ s Ro un d tabl e
Military minds U.S. military veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan are bringing their unique insights into the Ford School and other public policy schools across the country. State & Hill spoke with four graduate students— second-year MPP candidates George Stankow and John Stanczak, first-year MPP candidate Brian Runion, and first-year MPA candidate Ingrid Schuster Tighe—about how their service has influenced their Ford School experience, how a policy education will shape their futures, and more. S&H: How did your military service influence your decision to come to the Ford School?
supplies and troops in a particular direction?” You can use your degree in a lot of ways as a campaign planner.
Ingrid: One of my jobs in Iraq was to set up our commanding general’s daily video teleconferences with various leaders. It was really interesting because I got to sit in the corner and listen. I remember one conversation with Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and they were talking about policy issues that were affecting troops and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I think I could be really involved with affecting troops in a civilian role, too.’ But at the time I felt like I didn’t know much about how public policy and foreign policy were developed, so that helped make my decision to come here.
Like a lot of students who are still active duty, I’m hoping to use my MPP to get into the military’s Strategy and Policy Program, which is what Scott Thompson (MPP ’11) is doing to become a campaign planner. To sum it up, campaign design and planning consists of developing a campaign focus, flexible options, and strategies. So you’re going to be looking at numbers, looking at the total budget, and saying “Is it feasible to move so many John:
John Stanczak , who is still active in the U.S. Army, served in Iraq for 15 months. He will be serving with the 1st Armored Division at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas, following graduation.
What is the support system like for Ford School veterans?
Ingrid: I think when you meet another military person, regardless of background—I remember meeting Brian and saying, “Oh, you’re Coast Guard”—I think instantly we had that connection because we both had the GI Bill to talk about. I think (military service) definitely gives you the ability to connect with someone, build friendships, because you understand where each person is coming from.
Michigan is an incredibly vet-friendly school. I have friends who are doing their GI Bill in other places, and most of them have had administrative issues of some kind with billing or the timing of payments; I never have. If I get an email from the registrar’s office, I’ll go over there and before I could finish a sentence they’d say, “You’re GI Bill? Don’t worry about it. Done.”
Ingrid Schuster Tighe is a former Army communications officer with leadership experience during wartime in Baghdad, Iraq, and peacekeeping missions in Macedonia and Kosovo. After her military service, Ingrid worked in commercial real estate and founded her own leadership consulting business.
S T A T E & HILL
I have found this to be an incredibly welcoming place since the moment I showed up. On top of that I have a bit of a support network here with Coast Guard people, which makes it fairly easy to have a tailgate before football games. You’ll see the big balloon with the Coast Guard flag on it—
We won’t shoot it down. [laughter]
Does viewing policy issues from an academic standpoint add anything to your training and experience?
John: One thing the military is really pushing for is having a broad sense of who you are. General Casey (Army Chief of Staff until April 2011) was saying he wanted officers to leave the military and take private sector jobs before coming back because he wants his officers to have a cultural understanding and a business understanding.
type jobs that I could have here. I wanted to spread my wings a little and get an experience outside of that for my internship. Part of the reason that I wanted to come and take this sabbatical opportunity, to go to graduate school, was to get myself outside the Coast Guard mindset for a while and see a little bit of what’s outside. For my internship, I’d like to look for something that has to do with education. I have a pretty strong background in national security, but I’d like to get experience in an area that’s outside anything I’ve done. I want to have something else that I can go to.
Brian, I remember a conversation we had when you said this is the first time you’ve been in a civilian college setting, right?
He’s embraced it, look at the sideburns! [laughter]
George: There’s an existential debate in the Army about whether we spend too much time on base, and whether we have a good understanding of what’s going on in the world around us. That happens when there’s a drawdown looming, and we suddenly realize that not everyone is as concerned with the next battle as we are. So I think the Ford School is a good place to get that perspective. It’s good to get an idea of what the world looks like from the outside.
George, you have experience in Iraq as a contractor and a soldier, but I know you didn’t seek out defenserelated internships for the summer. Why?
There were a lot of internships that I decided not to go for, especially anything in DC, because I didn’t want to get pigeonholed as “the military guy.” I’m geographically locked for family reasons in southeast Michigan, and there are not that many military policyGeorge:
2011 Bromage Intern George Stankow spent 13 years in uniform as an active and reserve U.S. Army officer, including tours in Korea, Germany, Kosovo, Egypt, and Iraq. He also spent two years in Iraq as a civilian contractor.
Yeah, this is the first time since high school I’ve been able to grow my hair out, so that’s a little different. But actually, the similarities have surprised me more than the differences and I think that’s why I wanted to come here. The Coast Guard Academy is a very small school, a thousand cadets, and even though there is a military structure, the faculty is very approachable. And the Ford School is the same way: small classes, approachable faculty. Does it freak you out being this far away from
water? It’s actually something I’ve thought about. Even though there’s a fairly sizable Coast Guard presence in Michigan, yeah, not knowing where the ocean is frightens me. [laughter] ■
For a longer version: fordschool.umich.edu/militaryminds
Brian Runion graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 2006. He served five years as a Coast Guard officer, working throughout the Americas in a number of capacities, including law enforcement, public affairs, and logistics.
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Gl o bal Reac h
From the Great Hall to the Great Wall New course takes students and faculty to China to study contemporary policy
ord School Assistant Professor Philip Potter developed a new course last spring that introduced MPP students to contemporary Chinese public policy in a rather interactive way—by going to China.
“China is a crucially important country, and we have many students who are interested in its politics, so it was an obvious choice for this program,” said Potter, who has done research on China, including current work on whether the country’s increased domestic liberalization and international power will make it more of a target for terrorist organizations. The seven-week class focused on key elements of Chinese public policy, including government and civil society, economic development, environmental issues, and U.S.China relations. In May, Potter, Professor Ann Lin , and the students spent two weeks in Beijing, meeting with officials in academia, business, foreign affairs, and government. The speakers led surprisingly candid discussions, sharing their opinions on the dynamic nature of Chinese public policy.
“There are so many things about China that we still don’t know; it’s an evolving country,” said Philip Rogers (MPP/ MA ’11). “Even the Chinese scholars are still grappling with this question.” Many of the experts touched on the ways in which technology has altered public policy in China. Ford School students discovered that smart phones and free Wi-Fi are commonplace in Beijing, and that tech-savvy Chinese have not let government censorship of the Internet prevent them from learning about the world beyond their borders. “The current generation is the first in China to have an understanding of other countries’ political systems, so there are a variety of ideological beliefs among young Chinese,” expert Lora Saalman told the students. Saalman, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace at Tsinghua University, said that “a major political transformation is underway.” The discussion about U.S.-China relations focused on the diverse values of the respective countries. One Chinese foreign policy expert pointed out that the United States
(L-R, starting in back) Maria Smith (MPP ’11), Philip Rogers (MPP/MA ’11), Joseph Cooter (MPP ‘11), Michael Yates (MPP/MBA ’13), Scott Burgess (MPP ’12), Claire Lehnen (MPP ’12), and Sara Dent (MPP ’11) trekking the Great Wall.
S T A T E & HILL
Top: Ann Lin (far left), Ford School students meeting with students from Renmin University. Middle: Phil Potter (back row, 5th from left) with his class at Peking University in Beijing. Bottom: On the Great Wall (front-back): Ross Williams (MPP ’11), Sara Bonner (MPP ‘11), Nina Maturu (MPP/ MBA ’13), Elizabeth Stamberger (MPP/MBA ’11), and Kevin Kuo (MPP ’12).
values individual freedom and liberty, while China prioritizes order and harmony. These fundamental differences surface in international affairs—particularly in regard to policy toward North Korea—where the U.S. is concerned with the “good guy” and defeating the “bad guy,” while China prefers to “get along” with other nations. “If you’re not going to kill the bad guy, you should just give him candy to make him go away,” he argued. “If you ignore him, he will only become more angry and dangerous.” Even students focused on domestic policy found the international perspective useful. 2008 Simon Fellow Elizabeth Stamberger (MPP/MBA ’11) found the contrasting views to be the most valuable aspect of the trip. “International contexts are relevant to the U.S. domestic policy agenda because they broaden the scope for discussion and encourage informed policymaking in our own country,” said Stamberger, who hopes to apply her newfound insight to her career in education policy. Students enjoyed an educational opportunity of a different sort as they explored Beijing, navigating the streets by taxi, haggling with vendors, and visiting their favorite dumpling restaurant. On the weekend, a large group of students ventured outside the city to climb the ancient Simatai section of the Great Wall of China. The group trekked over steep terrain and crumbling paths, taking in the inspiring scenery and meeting people along the way. At the end of the two weeks, some students extended their stay in China to visit distant provinces. “China is the great unknown, but it is a perspective that cannot be ignored,” said 2010 Willis Intern Maria Smith (MPP ’11). “Through my travels, I gained a much deeper understanding of how this region of the world works. Trips like this one are a good way to improve international understanding.” The Ford School hopes to continue providing international opportunities for students, and will offer the Chinese course and trip again this spring. ■
Faculty News & Awards Robert Axelrod received the Regents’
Award for Distinguished Public Service, which honors extraordinary distinction in public service by members of the U-M faculty. Axelrod also was the recipient of the 2011 Charles E. Merriam Award from the American Political Science Association. APSA presents the Merriam Award to one person every two years, in recognition of “significant contributions to the art of government through the application of social science research.” Paul N. Courant ’s appointment as
University Librarian and Dean of Libraries was extended by the University of Michigan Regents through August 31, 2013. Courant was originally appointed in 2007. Announcing the decision, Provost Phil Hanlon said, “Under Paul Courant’s effective leadership, the University of Michigan Library has become more efficient as well as grown in stature.” Alan V. Deardorff gave a keynote
speech, “Some Ways Forward with Trade Barriers,” at an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development seminar in Paris in September. The book arising from the Festschrift held in Deardorff’s honor in fall 2009 has been published. Comparative Advantage, Growth, and the Gains from Trade and Globalization was edited by Robert M. Stern.
Kathryn M. Dominguez is serving as interim director of the joint PhD program in public policy and social science, having relieved founding director Mary e. Corcoran after 10 years. A professor of public policy and economics, Dominguez is a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research and the
Federal Reserve Bank. Brian A. Jacob will assume the role of director
when he returns from sabbatical. James R. Ellickson-Brown has joined the Ford School as its Diplomat in Residence (DIR) for the 2011-12 academic year. Ellickson-Brown comes to campus with a distinguished 25-year Foreign Service career, having served in Cyprus, Greece, Haiti, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Norway. The Ford School is one of only sixteen schools selected by the State Department to host a Diplomat in Residence. Elisabeth R. Gerber is one of seven University faculty involved in a new collaboration to help Great Lakes cities adapt to a changing climate. This threeyear, $1.2 million project, Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities, will bolster the science and decision-making processes necessary for proper urban climate adaptation. Edie N. Goldenberg has succeeded founding director of the Ford School’s undergraduate program, John Chamberlin . A professor of political science and public policy, Goldenberg has held many leadership roles at the University, serving as dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and director of the Ford School’s predecessor, the Institute of Public Policy Studies.
David J. Harding authored
“Rethinking the Cultural Context of Schooling Decisions in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods: From Deviant Subculture to Cultural Heterogeneity,” published in Sociology of Education. He also coauthored two articles, “Neighborhood Effects in Temporal Perspective,” published in American Sociological Review, and “Unpacking Neighborhood Influences on Education Outcomes: Setting the Stage for Future Research,” for a new Russell Sage book, Whither Opportunity: Rising Inequality and the Uncertain Life Chances of Low-Income Children. Melvyn Levitsky was an invited speaker on the international drug control system at Michigan State University’s Institute of International Health on Oct. 17. His main lecture at Albion College Oct. 31, “The United Nations: Flawed, But Necessary,” included a separate discussion about the State Department and U.S. diplomacy with Albion students from the Ford Institute for Public Policy. Helen Levy gave two presentations in October, “Comparative Effectiveness Research in the Affordable Care Act” at the 2011 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons in San Francisco, CA, and “An Economic Perspective on the Affordable Care Act” at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Michigan State Medical Society in Troy, MI.
S T A T E & HILL
Shobita Parthasarathy was promoted to associate professor of public policy with tenure at the Ford School. She is currently on sabbatical and spending the 2011-12 academic year at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago. The school’s tenure recommendation for Parthasarathy lauds her skills as a teacher, mentor, and advisor; her research, which includes the book Building Genetic Medicine: Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Health Care; her work in the policy field, including the role she played in the ACLU’s lawsuit against the U.S. Patent Office and Myriad Genetics; and her service as co-director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy program. John J.H. Schwartz has been appointed Special Advisor for Rail Issues by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. He helped negotiate the sale to the State of Michigan by Norfolk Southern Railroad of 135 miles of rail line between Kalamazoo and Dearborn. He also moderated a panel on rail issues at the Michigan Rail Summit held in Lansing on Oct. 31. Charles Shipan was elected president
of the Midwest Public Administration Caucus. Carl P. Simon has succeeded founding
co-directors Shobita Parthasarathy and James J. Duderstadt as director of the University’s Science, Technology, and Public Policy program. Simon served for 10 years as director of the University’s Center for the Study of Complex Systems. Megan Tomkins-Stange ’s article,
“Private Actors in the Public Arena,” was published in the September issue of Alliance Magazine, a leading source of news and analysis for philanthropy and social investment.
In May, Maris A. Vinovskis delivered a paper on “Lessons from the Past? Federal Education Involvement before 1995” at the American Enterprise Institute Conference, “Lessons from a Half Century of Federal Efforts to Improve America’s Schools.” The conference essays are scheduled to be published early next year by the Harvard Education Press. In June, Vinovskis delivered lectures on U.S. K-12 education reforms at the University of Latvia and the University of Liepaja. Dean Yang received a grant from the
University of Wisconsin and USAID to conduct field experiments in Mozambique. His project, titled “Savings, Subsidies, and Sustainable Food Security in Mozambique: 2011 Post-Harvest Survey Supplement,” will assess the impact of fertilizer subsidies and a matched savings program that may improve the longer-term impact of such subsidies.
Regents approve reappointment of Dean Susan M. Collins On September 15, the University of Michigan Board of Regents approved the reappointment of Susan M. Collins as Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy for a five-year term, effective September 1, 2012 through June 30, 2017. In his announcement to the Ford School community, University Provost Phil Hanlon wrote, “Dean Collins has done an excellent job of assessing the Ford School’s strengths and building on them.” Hanlon’s announcement cited a number of Collins’ first-term achievements, including the revitalization of the MPP curriculum, invigoration of the activities of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), strengthening of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy program (STPP), expansion of international and domestic internships, increased emphasis on education policy, and the initiation of the Center for Public Policy in Diverse Societies. In August, Collins was one of a select number of academics invited to participate in the Federal Reserve Bank’s annual Economic Policy Symposium in Jackson Hole, WY. In October, Collins participated with six other economists in an Oval Office discussion with President Obama, Vice President Biden, and members of the administration’s economic team about risks to the economic recovery.
Class Notes Alpert Lieberman
Maureen Donohue Krauss , MPP ’85,
was recently hired as the Vice President of Economic Development, Business Attraction at the Detroit Regional Chamber. Maureen will be responsible for strategy, operations, and projects for the program, a key part of the Chamber’s economic development portfolio. Maureen resides in Rochester Hills, Michigan, with her husband and two children. The biotech-startup founded by Susan K. Finston , MPP/JD ’86, BA ’82, Amrita Therapeutics Ltd., was named by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) as winner of the 2011 “Buzz of BIO” (Healing) award. Susan co-founded Amrita Therapeutics in 2008 in Gujarat, India, with biotech pioneer and serial bio-entrepreneur Ananda M. Chakrabarty. She serves as the company’s CEO and Managing Director. John Reinemann , MPP ’90, married
Sarah Dorsey in September 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin. John is the legislative director for the Wisconsin Counties Association, a local government advocacy
group headquartered in Madison. Sarah is a physician with the Veterans Administration in Madison. The couple resides in Middleton, Wisconsin. Jonathan Canedo , MPP ’96, after working for the DOE’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence as a nuclear counterterrorism analyst for almost two years, moved to Afghanistan in May for a post with the U.S. Army’s Counter-IED Analysis program. Jonathan serves as the team leader and senior lead all-source analyst assigned to support the 1-38 Calvary Squadron. He is stationed along the Pakistan border at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak.
Margaret Hill Brackett , MPP ’98,
has overseen program evaluations and school strategic planning for Fulton County Schools in Atlanta for the past 10 years. She recently launched her own consulting firm, Margaret Brackett Consulting, LLC, specializing in program evaluation, data analyses, strategic planning, and performance measurement. Margaret lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and two daughters. Pietro Semifero , MPP ’02, currently manages the Criminal History Unit of the Michigan State Police. Jeff Aronoff , MPP ’03, and Lisa Nuszkowski (MPP ’03) classmates at
Mellie Torres , MPP ’97, was recently
awarded the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Minority Dissertation Fellowship for 2011-12. The fellowship, offered to only three applicants each year, will provide support for Mellie’s doctoral dissertation research, which examines how interrelated social identities such as race, ethnicity, and gender intersect to inform the academic identities of low-income Latino male students in urban schools.
the Ford School, were recently selected as 2011 American Marshall Memorial Fellows. This competitive program selects emerging leaders from across the United States to participate in a 24-day traveling program throughout Europe to learn about the political, economic, and social institutions and issues facing the United States and Europe. Lisa embarked on her trip in June 2011, while Jeff completed his in October 2011.
Ford School Spotlight Tweet this Scholar, columnist, and influential Twitter commentator Sultan Al Qassemi gave a #2011rosenthal lecture about social media’s role in the 2011 Arab Spring.
Michael Lens , MPP ’03, and his wife,
Andrew Sokoly , MPP ’10, recently be-
Molly (Manning) Lens (JD ’03) are proud to announce the birth of their second baby boy, Lucien Michael Lens. Lucien was born on July 22, 2011. The family has since moved to Los Angeles, California, where Mike is a member of the faculty in the Department of Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles.
came the president of the board of directors for Summer in the City, a Detroit non-profit organization co-founded by
Bianca Howell , MPP/MBA ’06, was recently promoted to Senior Manager of Consumer, Shopper, and Market Insights Research at Georgia-Pacific LLC in Atlanta, Georgia, working in their North American Consumer Products Division. Dara Alpert Lieberman , MPP ’07, and
her husband, Mike, welcomed a son, Cameron, on May 17, 2011. The family lives in Arlington, Virginia. They are training Cameron for a career as a longsnapper for the Wolverines. Congratulations to Ari Parritz , BA ’10, who was married to Rachel Parritz on July 3, 2011. They live in Huntington, New York.
Replanting a memory Two new trees—the originals were moved during the construction of the new Law School building—were planted in the new north courtyard of Weill Hall in memory of Ford School students Jeffrey Druchniak and James Wherry Willis (MPP ’99).
Ben Falik (MPP/JD ’09). Other Ford
School graduates to join the board include Geoff Young (MPP ’07, BA ’02) and Karen Biddle Andres (MPP/MBA ’08). Ben returned to Weill Hall this past fall to teach an undergraduate course on volunteerism. For more information about Summer in the City, visit summerinthecity.com. Jennifer K. Hong , MPP ’11, married Andrew Wang on June 25, 2011. The couple resides in Washington, DC.
In Memoriam Jordan Joseph Popkin , MPA ’51, passed away on May 11, 2011 at the age of 84. Popkin spent his career working in public service in such organizations as the Michigan Governor’s Office, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Public Health Service, where he was a high-ranking administrator of several important health programs during his thirty years of service. In addition to his work, he was active in local and national Democratic politics, served on the Parent Association of the Sidwell Friends School, participated in the Washington Hebrew Congregation, and founded a children’s clothing store.
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
THE LAST WO RD
America unequal Sheldon Danziger on the Great Recession Sheldon H. Danziger
Distinguished University Professor Sheldon H. Danziger is one of the nation’s foremost experts on poverty and inequality. He has led the National Poverty Center (NPC) since 2002. Tell us about the NPC’s Michigan Recession and Recovery Study.
The project is designed to understand how workers, families, and children in southeast Michigan were affected by the Great Recession and the extent to which they are recovering from the economic shocks. Our research team has completed two waves of interviews with respondents from the Detroit metro area, with a third planned for spring 2013.
The highest earners have captured most of the income gains of the last 15 or 20 years. Their tax rates were lowered dramatically by the Reagan tax cuts, modestly increased in the Clinton era, then cut again under (G.W.) Bush. All President Obama has proposed is to bring them back to the levels of the 1990s when economic growth was robust.
How does Detroit’s current experience compare with other areas and other recessions?
“Deficit mania”—which has also swept the media—means that even the Democrats are much more willing to cut spending than to raise taxes. Most economists believe the Stimulus Bill and the Federal Reserve actions kept us from falling into a world depression in late 2008 and early 2009. But somehow politicians have forgotten that government spending that increases deficits during recessions helps prevent further economic collapse and helps the unemployed from greater hardship.
SD: Detroit was hit harder than the rest of the country because—like a number of Rust Belt cities along the Great Lakes—it was already suffering from post-industrial decline.
We have a long-run deficit problem and we need to rein in the growth of entitlements. There are ways to do so that wouldn’t affect the poor and the unemployed, but that’s not what’s being discussed.
To the extent that there’s any good news, it’s that the Detroit area went from having an unemployment rate a lot higher than the U.S. average in 2009 to a little bit higher than average today. Nonetheless, unemployment in the state is still around 11 percent. It’s much higher in the central city of Detroit and for people who have no more than a high school degree.
So while there’s currently more attention to the problem, the political situation is dismal. I’m not optimistic at all, given the high unemployment rates and the deficit cuts we know are coming. Poverty in 2020 is likely to be higher than in 2000, and in 2000 it was about the same as in 1973. We live in a country which basically has embraced inequality.
Overall, the job loss was much steeper and the recovery has been much slower than in past recessions. The Federal Reserve Board and the CBO project that unemployment rates are going to remain high through 2014.
Americans seem to be talking about inequality: is that a real shift in the political landscape, one that might spur action on poverty and inequality?
SD: The good news is there is more discussion, particularly in the media, about increased inequality. Peter Gottschalk and I wrote a book called America Unequal in 1995 and nobody wanted to talk about it. Certainly Occupy Wall Street has cast a big spotlight on this issue not only in the U.S. but in other countries as well. But I don’t see, unfortunately, any political will to move forward. As an example, the Republicans in Congress refuse to even consider a millionaire’s tax to help reduce the deficit, much less to use the revenues to support programs for the poor and unemployed.
What new projects are underway at the NPC?
We’re working with the Mott Foundation to plan eight seminars on the causes and consequences of poverty, followed by a large public event in September 2012 to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Michael Harrington’s The Other America. Also, (economist) Martha Bailey and I are editing a volume on the legacy of the war on poverty, to come out in January 2014—the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s declaration of war on poverty.
You’re a big Michigan basketball fan. Are you willing to go on the record with a season prediction?
SD: [laughter] Yes, I’ve been a basketball season ticket holder for almost 20 years, and unlike my pessimistic views about the U.S. Congress, I’m optimistic that the basketball team will have a good season. S&H: SD:
A tournament team?
I hope they’re a tournament team. ■
31 Where in the world did Ford School MPPs intern in 2011? S T A T E & HILL
Top row, left to right: Gabriel Krieshok (MPP/MSI ’12); USAID, Bureau of African Affairs; Washington, DC Katherine Valle (MPP/MA ’12) (with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan); U.S. Department of Education, The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics; Washington, DC Karen Spangler (MPP/MUP ’13) (second from the right); National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; Washington, DC Second row, left to right: Perry Zielak (MPP ’12) with Anna Erickson (MPP ’12); Michigan Office of the Governor; Lansing, MI Ryan Pretzer (MPP ’12); Michigan Office of the Governor; Washington, DC Yohei Chiba (MPP ’12); Direct Relief International; Tokyo, Japan Jonathan Moore (MPP ’12) (far left with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Planning and Evaluation; Washington, DC annual-fund-ad_fall2011_ver4OL.pdf
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Joan and Sanford Weill Hall 735 S. State Street Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091
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Published on Jan 5, 2012
State & Hill, winter 2012 edition: "Policy and Education." State & Hill is the official magazine of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Poli...