February 5, 2010

South Sider picked to head U of C education research

Education reformer Paul Goren will head the University’s research efforts on urban public schools as director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR), the University announced last week.

“I have spent over 25 years at the intersection of education research, policy, and practice,” Goren said. “CCSR is a perfect fit for me given the work I have done over the years as a teacher, a senior administrator in the Minneapolis schools, a policy director for the National Governor’s Association, and in both the MacArthur and Spencer Foundations.”

Goren served for the past nine years as senior vice president of the Spencer Foundation, an organization that provides funding and logistical support to educational research. He started his career as a middle school teacher, and later worked as a school administrator and education policy analyst.

CCSR conducts research on behalf of the University’s Urban Education Institute, which funds CCSR research, operates four charter schools on the South Side, runs educational leadership programs, and trains teachers for urban schools.

Goren will succeed John Q. Easton, who served as CCSR director from 2002 until 2009, when he was appointed by President Barack Obama to lead the Institute of Education Sciences, the research branch of the U.S. Department of Education.

Goren said that meeting the standards set by his predecessors will be a difficult task. “I hope to carry on the legacy that John [Easton] and Tony Bryk established, of helping to run and being involved in a high quality, respected education research center that is known to help improve schools and schooling for those who need it most,” he said. “I have big shoes to fill and look forward to working with the CCSR colleagues to move the organization forward.”

Easton said in a press release that he was confident in Goren. “Paul’s experiences working in large urban school districts and with policymakers and top researchers across the country make him the perfect person to lead CCSR. I expect Paul will expand CCSR’s national presence, maintain the highest quality research, and work closely to inform new initiatives in Chicago Public Schools.”

A native of Chicago, Goren said his new position would have personal significance for him. “I grew up on Chicago’s South Side—30 blocks south of the University, where my parents still live—and I am a graduate of the Chicago Public Schools. It is an honor to work in an organization dedicated to improve the schools in a city I love and where I started my education,” he said.

He added that the breadth of CCSR’s research will allow him to help the schools he graduated from. “CCSR is now seen as a national model for doing research on urban education and public schooling. It is helping to change the image of educational research being done in isolation of those who work in schools by addressing the pressing needs faced by educational practitioners,” Goren said. “The new Chicago Public School administration is focused on using data and information as the cornerstone of its decision-making. This provides the consortium with obvious opportunities to continue to be of assistance as an independent lens on Chicago Public Schools.”