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Education Reform: The Public Policy and Politics of Closing Achievement Gaps

  • Harvard Club of Boston 374 Commonwealth Avenue Boston, MA, 02115 United States (map)
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Education reform initiatives in Massachusetts have garnered much public attention in recent years, especially those that seek to close racial achievement gaps. This event seeks to discuss the political and public policy challenges and successes surrounding two highly visible case studies: The Lawrence Public Schools' Turnaround Plan and the Lexington Public Schools’ METCO Program. We’ll be joined by political leaders, academic experts, and practitioners who were directly involved in each.

This event is sponsored by First Republic.

  • Schedule:

    • 6pm Networking

    • 6:30 Panel

    • 7:30 Q&A

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Moderator: Professor Ron Ferguson: Ron Ferguson is an MIT-trained economist who joined the faculty at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1983 and for the next two decades focused most of his teaching and research on state and local economic development. However, by the late 1980s, his work expanded to include education and youth development, because shifts in labor market skill requirements, combined with racial and ethnic achievement gaps, were causing growing wage disparity. Ron is a faculty associate at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and faculty director of the Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard University. In 2014, he co-founded Tripod Education Partners, Inc., which provides survey and research support to public school systems, and shifted into an adjunct role at the Kennedy School. He consults widely and is a member of several national research and policy networks, committees, and commissions. Ron holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a PhD from MIT, both in economics. He has been happily married for 39 years and is the father of two adult sons.

  • Panelists:

    • Dr. Paul Ash, former Superintendent of the Lexington Public Schools: Dr. Paul Ash recently retired as the Superintendent of Schools in Lexington, Massachusetts after ten years. During his 42-year career in education, Paul has held a wide range of school leadership roles: Superintendent of Schools, Lexington and Westwood, MA; Assistant Superintendent for Personnel, Finance, and Administration, Wellesley, MA; Chair of the Legislation Committee, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, President and Negotiations Chair, Dover-Sherborn Teachers Association, Dover, MA; President of the Massachusetts Association of School Personnel Administrators, and Member of the Newton School Committee, Newton, MA. Paul's contributions to the field have been recognized at the state and national level in human resources/labor relations, financial operations, and professional development. Paul is also the co-author of the book School Systems That Learn: Improving Professional Practice, Overcoming Obstacles, and Diffusing Innovation. The book focuses on how any school district can raise academic achievement for all students by creating an adult learning organization based on trust, collaboration in all directions, and leadership at all levels.

    • Anna Monaco, Principal of the Clarke Middle School. Anna Monaco is now in her sixth year as principal of Jonas Clarke Middle School. Located in Lexington, Massachusetts, Jonas Clarke is ranked #1 out of 476 middle schools statewide according to School Digger reports. Ms. Monaco has a passion for ensuring all students reach their own individual highest potential. She began her pedagogical career nearly two decades ago as a special education teacher in both Winchester and North Reading before joining the Lexington Public Schools in 2001. Ms. Monaco worked as a special education teacher and served as the special education department chair at Jonas Clarke Middle School for several years before taking on the role of Assistant Principal in the 2007-2008 school year. In 2012 she was unanimously appointed Principal by a search committee comprised of teachers, administrators, and parents. Ms. Monaco has a post-graduate license in Educational Leadership from Endicott College, a Master’s of Science in Special Education from Simmons College and a Bachelor of Arts from Colby College.

    • Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley: Jeffrey C. Riley was appointed Massachusetts' 24th commissioner of elementary and secondary education in early 2018 and began serving as commissioner on April 5, 2018. A Massachusetts native, Mr. Riley's experience spans urban and suburban districts and includes teaching in Baltimore, Md., being principal of Tyngsboro Middle School, and being principal of Boston's Edwards Middle School. In January 2012, Commissioner Riley was appointed superintendent/receiver of the Lawrence Public Schools. During his more than six years there, he led a team that brought major improvements by shifting more resources and autonomy to the school level, expanding the school day, increasing enrichment opportunities, and ensuring all schools had great leaders and teachers. Commissioner Riley lives in Boston and holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Pomona College in California, a master's degree in counseling from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and a master's degree in school administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University.

    • Dr. Beth Schueler: Beth is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Beth studies education policy, politics, and inequality with a focus on efforts to improve low-performing K-12 schools and districts. Her work in these areas has been published in journals such as Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and Public Opinion Quarterly, and she currently has papers invited for revision and resubmission at Education Finance and Policy, Educational Administration Quarterly, and Industrial and Labor Relations Review. Beth received a doctorate in education policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2016 and holds a master's degree in politics and education from Columbia University. Beth has also taught on the politics of education at Brown University and previously worked on legislative affairs at the New York City Council.

Tickets $25 online and $30 at the door, and they include heavy hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar. For more information, contact MaryRose Mazzola at