April 10, 2009

Obama taps Easton for education post

University education expert John Q. Easton will be nominated to director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), President Obama announced this week.

Easton, who is currently director of the University’s Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR), has garnered wide recognition for his work in helping to reform the Chicago Public School (CPS) system.

“John has provided remarkable leadership to the Consortium and built an unrivaled organization to inform policy, practice, and the public,” said Tim Knowles, the director of the University’s Urban Education Institute, of which the CCSR is a subsidiary, said in a press release. “He has influenced in profound ways how we, and the nation, understand the needs of children growing up in urban America.”

The CCSR, founded in 1990 due to a push for reform in what was considered a failing system, researches the best practices for the CPS, “identifying what matters for student success and school improvement, creating critical indicators to chart progress, and conducting theory-driven evaluation to identify how programs and policies are working,” according to its website.

In an interview, Easton explained the methods he has employed at the CCSR, which he has directed since 2002 and with which he has worked since it was formed.

“We’ve done this real in-depth kind of long term research around CPS and have built a lot of coherence around our research studies,” he said.

He said this experience would pay off if the Senate approves his nomination. “You want research studies to build one off of one another,” Easton said.

The IES is the arm of the Department of Education dedicated to funding education research in the United States as well as evaluating its education’s programs. It has worked with the CCSR in the past.

Easton has years of experience working with Arne Duncan, the newly appointed head of the Department of Education, who was previously head of CPS.

Though Easton has yet to be officially appointed, much less approved, he is confident he will soon be in Washington.

“I haven’t had any warning signs,” he said.