This event built on the recent release of a paper commissioned by the Aspen Economic Strategy Group for its 2023 policy volume, “Building a More Resilient US Economy.” In this paper, the authors detail the urgent, once-in-a-century public education crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and propose policy solutions to help schools scale proven strategies like high-dosage tutoring and close learning gaps. Read more about the paper here.
The event featured a conversation moderated by Dr. Melissa S. Kearney, Director of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group, and will include panelists Dr. Jens Ludwig, Co-Director of the University of Chicago Education Lab, Dr. Nat Malkus, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Education Policy Studies at American Enterprise Institute, and Dr. Nakia Towns, Chief Operating Officer at Accelerate – The National Collaborative for Accelerated Learning. Robert Gordon, Deputy Director for Economic Mobility at the White House Domestic Policy Council, provided opening remarks.
Date: Wednesday, December 6th
Time: 8:30am – 9:30am CT
MODERATOR Dr. Melissa S. Kearney is the Neil Moskowitz Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland. She is also director of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group; a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research; and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. She serves on the Board of Directors of MDRC and on advisory boards for the Notre Dame Wilson-Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities and the Smith Richardson Foundation. Kearney previously served as Director of the Hamilton Project at Brookings and as co-chair of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology J-PAL State and Local Innovation Initiative. Kearney’s research focuses on poverty, inequality, and social policy in the United States. Her work is published in leading academic journals and is frequently cited in the press. She is an editorial board member of the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy and the Journal of Economic Literature; she was previously co-editor of the Journal of Human Resources and a Senior Editor of the Future of Children. Kearney teaches Public Economics at both the undergraduate and Ph.D. level at the University of Maryland. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT.
Dr. Jens Ludwig is the Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, Pritzker Director of the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab, and co-director of the Education Lab. He helped found the Crime Lab and Education Lab to work closely with the public sector to solve pressing social problems. These partnerships have led to important policy changes in cities around the country, including Chicago and New York, and have been featured in national news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, PBS News Hour, and National Public Radio, and the scientific basis for these policies have been published in leading peer-reviewed journals like the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Science, and Nature. In 2012 he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science.
Dr. Nat Malkus is a senior fellow and the deputy director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he specializes in empirical research on K–12 schooling. He is a national expert on a range of educational issues that affect students across the country—including Career and Technical Education, school choice, Advanced Placement, standardized testing, and how the nation’s schools responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before joining AEI, Dr. Malkus was a senior researcher at the American Institutes for Research, where he led research teams analyzing national education data on topics including how many college students take remedial courses, the comparisons between charter and traditional public schools, and student achievement and graduation rates in schools undergoing turnaround reforms. Earlier, he spent four years as a middle school teacher in Maryland. Dr. Malkus has a PhD in education policy and leadership from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a BA in historical studies from Covenant College.
Dr. T. Nakia Towns is the Chief Operating Officer at Accelerate. Towns was previously the Deputy Superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), serving over 180,000 students in Georgia’s largest district, which is also the 11th largest in the country. Before her appointment in GCPS, Towns served as interim and deputy superintendent at Hamilton County Schools (HCS) in Chattanooga, Tennessee, driving continuous improvement across all departments and leading HCS to become the fastest improving district in Tennessee. Prior to joining Hamilton County, Towns was Assistant Commissioner, Division of Data and Research, at the Tennessee Department of Education. During her time at the department, she helped set the strategic direction for PreK-12 educational policy, as co-author of the state’s highly regarded plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Towns transitioned to education leadership at Knox County Schools where she rose to Chief Accountability Officer, responsible for evaluating and growing the district’s overall educational return on investment. Towns holds a B.S. in biomedical engineering from Duke University and an M.B.A. from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. She also earned an M.Ed. in educational leadership from The Broad Center for Education Management (now affiliated with the Yale University School of Management) and a doctorate of education in K-12 leadership and policy from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.