National Coordinator, Broader Bolder Approach to Education Campaign
Areas of Expertise
Education policy • Early childhood education • Economics of education
Elaine Weiss is the National Coordinator for the Broader Bolder Approach to Education (BBA), where she works with three co-chairs, a high-level task force, and multiple coalition partners to promote a comprehensive, evidence-based set of policies to allow all children to thrive. Major publications for BBA include Market-Oriented Education Reforms’ Rhetoric Trumps Reality, and Mismatches in Race to the Top Limit Educational Improvement. In 2014, she worked with educators from across the country on a series of commentaries for Bill Moyers on the many links between poverty and educational achievement. She has also authored dozens of blogs for the Huffington Post, the Washington Post Answer Sheet, TalkPoverty, the Nation, and other publications, and been interviewed for numerous radio shows, including Jesse Jackson’s “Keep Hope Alive” and NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show.”
Weiss came to BBA from the Pew Charitable Trusts, where she served as project manager for Pew’s Partnership for America’s Economic Success campaign. In that capacity, she collaborated with some of the nation’s most respected researchers to document the economic benefits of early childhood investments. The campaign worked with state partners to engage business leaders in promoting effective early childhood programs. She was a member of the Center for Disease Control’s task force on child abuse, and served as volunteer counsel for clients at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. Weiss has a Ph.D. in public policy from the George Washington University Trachtenberg School, a J.D. from the Harvard Law School, and a B.A. and B.S. from the University of Maryland, College Park. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband and two daughters, both students in Montgomery County public schools.
Ph.D., Public Policy, George Washington University
J.D., Harvard Law School
B.A., Political Science, University of Maryland at College Park
B.S., Biology, University of Maryland at College Park
Search publications by Elaine Weiss
Traits and skills such as critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, persistence, and self-control—which are often collectively called noncognitive skills, or social and emotional skills—are vitally important to children’s full development. Developing these skills should thus be an explicit goal of public education.
Joplin, Missouri, a small city in the Southwest corner of the state, is probably best known for the devastating tornado that ripped through it on May 22, 2011. The storm killed 161 people and caused more than $2 billion in damages. Less well known is the widespread and growing poverty that is damaging the community—especially its students and schools—in quieter but no less harmful ways. But Joplin has begun to rebound, and the rest of the country should take note.
An ambitious national investment in early childhood care and education would provide high societal returns. American productivity would improve with a better-educated and healthier future workforce, inequality would be immediately reduced as resources to provide quality child care are progressively made available to families with children, and the next generation would benefit from a more level playing field that allows for real equality of opportunity.
Authorization and signature into law is just the first step to successful legislation.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) appears, finally, to be nearing reauthorization. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Congress will, after years of effort, begin to right some of the wrongs wrought by the excessive focus on standards and accountability in No Child Left Behind (ESEA’s current iteration).
This week we learned that, for the first time in its 20 year history, scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) declined or were stagnant in both fourth and eighth grades in both math and reading. Naturally, this is prompting concern and questions. Are current education policies on the right course? Is the Common Core not working? Do these scores indicate “test fatigue” because kids are taking too many tests?
The most socioeconomically disadvantaged children lag substantially in reading skills as early as kindergarten. This skill level rises along with social class. For example, children in the highest socioeconomic group (the high SES fifth) have reading scores that are significantly higher—by a full standard deviation—than scores of their peers in the lowest socioeconomic group.
Understanding disparities in school readiness among America’s children when they begin kindergarten is critically important, now more than ever. In today’s 21st century global economy, we expect the great majority of our children to complete high school ready to enter college or begin a career, and assume their civic responsibilities.
In his new book, From Preschool to Prosperity, Upjohn Institute Senior Economist Timothy Bartik makes a powerful case for the benefits of universal, versus targeted, pre-K.
The Wallethub state school quality rankings that were released earlier this month add to a growing list of such guides. They join those of the Education Law Center, which has ranked state school systems since 2011 using a four-part funding equity model, Students First’s state report cards, and the Brookings Institution Brown Center’s Education Choice and Competition rankings of large urban districts.
The 2014 DC-CAS proficiency scores released yesterday confirm concerns voiced two weeks ago by the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education. Small average gains in math proficiency rates, and basically flat reading scores, which mask even smaller gains among disadvantaged subgroups, as well as actual losses in a few cases, indicate that policies advanced by former Chancellor Michelle Rhee and current Chancellor Kaya Henderson have not benefitted most students and have exacerbated disadvantage for low-income, minority, and English Language Learner students.
Growing up black or Hispanic in the United States today means high odds of living in concentrated poverty: in neighborhoods in which at least 40 percent of the residents are poor.
Closing achievement gaps—disparities in academic achievement between minority and white students, and between low-income and higher-income students—has long been an unrealized goal of U.S.
This piece originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
As Andrew Delbanco all but says in the New York Times Review of Books, the biggest difference between education scholar Diane Ravitch’s new book, Reign of Error, and former DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s book, Radical, is that the first is based on extensive facts, the second heavily on fiction.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
9:30 – 11:00 am
Russell Senate Office Building Room 385
Constitution Avenue Northeast
Washington, D.C., DC 20002
Three years into implementation of Race to the Top, has the flagship federal education initiative produced the “game-changing” improvements proponents promised?
President Obama would like to leave as part of his legacy substantial improvements in U.S. education. Recognizing the flaws inherent in Race to the Top, reversing the damage it has done, and enacting more comprehensive education policies in the administration's second term could make that legacy a proud one.
High-profile education “reformers” in Washington, D.C., New York, and Chicago have asserted over the past decade that test-based accountability, whether for teachers (D.C.
As an advocate for education policies to help children living in poverty narrow the achievement gap, I, like many others, tend to think of the Bronx, Newark, and East St.