Young lives. Old problems. New solutions.

The EqualEd Thought Leaders Poll

The majority of Americans want major changes in the US education system. Two groups have significant power over any future shifts. The first are policy influencers including education researchers, advocates, foundation funders, and – of course – lawmakers themselves. The second group are the teachers in classrooms across America who are largely responsible for the implementation of any reforms.

Here at EqualEd we want our readers to hear both the national thought leaders and those with ground truths. We are assembling key voices in both groups for a regular survey on solutions to major issues in education. We hope to highlight common ground and explain the reasons for diverging views. We will publish the results in our newsletter and in story form with selected quotes from the survey takers.

Recent poll results:

March 6, 2017: Thought leaders: School choice or strong public schools – can you have both?
What do you think? VOTE.

Who are the thought leaders?

EqualEd has gathered 30 high-profile education policy influencers to take part in our periodic polling about changes to the education system. Click their names below to learn more about them.

Jim Balfanz Katherine Bassett Kathleen S. Caliento
Michael Casserly Celine Coggins César Cruz
Linda Darling-Hammond Jeff Duncan-Andrade Susan Dynarski
Dale Erquiaga Sarah Fiarman Chester E. Finn
Adam Gamoran Frederick Hess Leah Hamilton
David Kirkland Arthur Levine Harold Levy
Chris Maher Kim Marshall Chris Minnich
Pedro A. Noguera Jonathan Plucker Patrick Riccards
David Ruff Alexander Russo David Shapiro
Beverly Daniel Tatum Ana Tilton Rajiv Vinnakota

We have also gathered K-12 classroom teachers to give a closer-to-the ground perspective on proposals for change.

  • Brett Bigham - Special Education - Oregon Teacher of the Year
  • Seth Brady - High School - Illinois Teacher of the Year
  • Annice Brave - High School - Illinois Teacher of the Year
  • Dayna Burke - Elementary School - Arizona Teacher of the Year
  • Darren Burris - Middle & High School - Massachusetts, Teach Plus fellow
  • Gary Carmichael - Elementary & Middle School - Montana Teacher of the Year
  • Michael Dunlea - Elementary School - New Jersey Teacher of the Year
  • Joe Harmon - Middle & High School - Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year
  • Rick Joseph - High School - Michigan Teacher of the Year
  • Topher Kandik - High School - Washington DC Teacher of the Year
  • Misti Kemmer - Elementary School - California, Teach Plus fellow
  • Barbara LaSaracina - Middle School - New Jersey Teacher of the Year
  • Leah Luke - High School - Wisconsin Teacher of the Year
  • Jane McMahon - Middle School - Wisconsin Teacher of the Year
  • Lori Michalec - High School - Ohio Teacher of the Year
  • Rich Ognibene - High School - New York Teacher of the Year
  • Michelle Pearson - Middle School - Colorado Teacher of the Year
  • Shanna Peeples - Middle & High School - Texas Teacher of the Year
  • Matinga Ragatz - High School - Michigan Teacher of the Year
  • Allison Riddle - Elementary School - Utah Teacher of the Year
  • Jean Russell - Elementary - Indiana Teacher of the Year
  • Heather Sparks - All - Oklahoma Teacher of the Year
  • John Tierney - High School - Nevada Teacher of the Year
  • Stacie Valdez - Middle & High School - Kansas Teacher of the Year
  • Karen Vogelsang - Elementary School - Tennessee Teacher of the Year
  • Rebecca Wattlesworth - High School - Illinois Teacher of the Year
  • Cathy Whitehead - Elementary School - Tennessee Teacher of the Year
  • Kelisa Wing - Middle School - Department of Defense Education Activity Teacher of the Year
  • Jody Zepp - High School - Maryland Teacher of the Year
  • Kim Zeydel - High School - Idaho Teacher of the Year


Jim Balfanz
Jim Balfanz is President of City Year, an education organization fueled by national service that is dedicated to helping students and schools succeed. He serves on several boards, including the Council of Distinguished Educators for The Aspen Institute's National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development.

Katherine Bassett
Katherine Bassett is the President and CEO of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, a non-profit organization committed to the promotion of teachers as leaders and to supporting teaching practice through three key focus areas: policy, practice, and advocacy.

Kathleen S. Caliento
Kathleen S. Caliento is the Chief Program Officer for Spark, a national organization that provides life-changing apprenticeships to middle school students from disadvantaged communities in an effort to empower them to succeed in their education and beyond.

Michael Casserly
Michael Casserly serves as Executive Director of the Council of the Great City Schools. As head of the nation’s primary urban-school coalition, Casserly has unified big-city school districts nationwide around a vision of reform and improvement.

Celine Coggins
Celine Coggins is the founder and CEO of Teach Plus, a national non-profit that that empowers teachers to lead improvements in policy and practice.

César Cruz
César Cruz is the co-founder of Homies Empowerment, author of Bang for Freedom, and a veteran educator based out of east Oakland, CA.

Linda Darling-Hammond
Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University where she founded the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and served as the faculty sponsor of the Stanford Teacher Education Program, which she helped to redesign.

Jeff Duncan-Andrade
Jeff Duncan-Andrade is Associate Professor of Raza Studies and Education at San Francisco State University. He is also the founder of the Roses in Concrete Community School, a community responsive lab school in East Oakland, Teaching Excellence Network, and the Community Responsive Education Group.

Susan Dynarski
Susan Dynarski is a professor of public policy, education, and economics at the University of Michigan and serves as co-director of the Education Policy Initiative. She is a faculty research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a nonresident senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution.

Dale Erquiaga
Dale Erquiaga is the president and CEO of Communities In Schools, the nation’s largest and most effective dropout prevention organization.

Sarah Fiarman
Sarah Fiarman is a leadership consultant and the author of several books on education including Instructional Rounds and Becoming a School Principal.

Chester E. Finn
Chester E. Finn Jr. is senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, chairman of Hoover's Task Force on K–12 Education, and president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. His primary focus is reforming primary and secondary schooling.

Adam Gamoran
Adam Gamoran is the president of the William T. Grant Foundation, a charitable organization that supports social science research to improve the lives of young people.

Frederick Hess
Rick Hess is the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and is an author, educator, and political scientist.

Leah Hamilton
Leah Hamilton is the Director of Education for the Barr Foundation and has served previously as executive director of the Office of Multiple Pathways to Graduation in the New York City Department of Education.

David Kirkland
David E. Kirkland, associate professor of English Education at NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, is a transdisciplinary scholar exploring the intersections among urban youth culture, language and literacy, urban teacher preparation, and digital media.

Arthur Levine
Arthur Levine is the president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, which identifies and develops leaders and institutions to meet the nation’s critical challenges. He has also served as president and professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Harold Levy
Harold Levy is the executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and a former New York City schools chancellor.

Chris Maher
Chris Maher is Superintendent of Providence Schools. He comes to Providence from Mass Insight Education, a nonprofit organization that focuses nationally on school improvement and district transformation.

Kim Marshall
Kim Marshall, a former Boston Public School teacher, curriculum director, and principal, now coaches principals, speaks and consults on school leadership and teacher evaluation, and publishes the weekly Marshall Memo summarizing research and ideas for K-12 educators.

Chris Minnich
As executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Chris Minnich has committed CCSSO to making sure all students participating in our public education system - regardless of background - graduate prepared for college, careers, and life.

Pedro A. Noguera
Pedro Noguera is the Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. He is the author of 12 books and was elected to the National Academy of Education.

Jonathan Plucker
Jonathan Plucker is the Julian C. Stanley Professor of Talent Development at Johns Hopkins University.

Patrick Riccards
Patrick Riccards is the author of the Eduflack blog and the chief communications and strategy officer for the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

David Ruff
David Ruff is executive director of the Great Schools Partnership, and a founding member and director of the New England Secondary School Consortium, a five-state partnership working to promote forward-thinking innovations in secondary education.

Alexander Russo
Alexander Russo, a former teacher and US Senate staffer, writes about media coverage of education at THE GRADE.

David Shapiro
CEO of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. Father, Husband, and Mentor. On a quest to see that every young person has positive adult supports.

Beverly Daniel Tatum
Beverly Daniel Tatum served as the president of Spelman College and is an author, speaker, and expert on issues related to racial identity.

Ana Tilton
Ana Tilton is executive director of Grantmakers for Education and has more than 30 years of experience across the education spectrum including work as an educator, administrator, and grantmaker.

Rajiv Vinnakota
Rajiv Vinnakota is the Executive Vice President of the Youth & Engagement division at the Aspen Institute, a new venture focusing on youth leadership development, civic engagement, and social justice.