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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

About Education


K-12 Education

The Rockefeller Institute, along with State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, is working with a number of urban universities across the country which serve as anchor institutions in evolving communitywide partnerships focused on education from preschool through college. These systemic partnerships are designed to address problems at every stage of the leaking student educational ‘pipeline.’ This means better preparing youngsters to begin school through high-quality preschool. It means working with the families of these youngsters. It means providing more high-quality educational experiences outside of school to supplement those within school. It means not only improved education but providing needed counseling and finding the financial means for those students to pursue post-secondary options. These partnerships employ a range of strategies to address the dropout problem, and their goal is not just high school graduation, but access to and success in a post-secondary program.

In October 2007, the Institute convened a national symposium to discuss prospects for development of intergovernmental entities involving states and education experts in a collaborative process to identify national standards and improve testing, without direct control from Washington. Existing interstate approaches such as Achieve and the New England Common Assessment Program, new ideas such as Education Sector Co-Director Thomas Toch’s proposal for an agency to regulate testing modeled on the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and models from other policy areas were all discussed. A briefing paper is here; a summary article on the forum is here; and the full forum transcript is here.

Community Colleges

The Institute is developing a new project to examine the greatly expanded role of America’s community colleges. They enroll almost half of all post-high school students and are key gateways to good jobs and careers. But their accessibility and impact vary greatly among states.

Higher Education

The Rockefeller Institute’s Higher Education Program seeks practical approaches to the issues facing colleges and universities by combining the expertise of practitioners and researchers in higher education with the contributions and concerns of trustees and opinion leaders in government, labor, and business. The Program enlists major stakeholders in higher education in a common effort to link policy development with research, citizen and constituent commitment, and effective implementation. Its goal is to move major policy issues in higher education from divisive debate to reasoned discussion and, hopefully, to rational resolution.

Staff Contacts

Donald J. Boyd is a senior fellow with expertise in state and local education spending.

Joseph Burke is a senior fellow with expertise in higher education, including the role of college and university presidents, system governance, accountability, academic outcomes and assessment, and the interrelation of teaching, research, and service.

Thomas Gais, director of the Rockefeller Institute, conducts research on federalism, the implementation of social programs, and state spending and fiscal capacity, including state education resources.

Kenneth R. Howey is a senior fellow with expertise in urban teacher education and school renewal, and P-16 partnerships.

Jason E. Lane is deputy director for research at the Institute.

Ben Wildavsky is director of higher education studies at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and policy professor at the University at Albany.