About the National Education Policy Center

Mission

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.

Fellows

NEPC Fellows have a wide range of expertise bearing on education policy issues. They also have considerable experience speaking with members of the media about their work and about current issues. Please feel free to contact a fellow directly, using the subject-area information we've provided.

Our fellows have a wide range of expertise bearing on education policy issues. They also have considerable experience speaking with members of the media about their work and about current issues. Please feel free to contact a fellow directly, using the subject-area information we've provided. Or you may contact NEPC Director Kevin Welner at welner@colorado.edu or managing director Bill Mathis at william.mathis@colorado.edu, and they will put you in touch with an appropriate expert.

Staff

Our senior academic staff members include nationally recognized education researchers, writers, and practitioners whose experience ensures the quality, timeliness, and value of the work NEPC does. Please feel free to contact staff members about topics of interest to you.  Please feel free to reach out to any of our staff for more information.

 

Kevin Welner

Kevin Welner, Director

NEPC director Kevin G. Welner is a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Education, specializing in policy and law. He and Alex Molnar founded NEPC in 2010. Welner has authored or edited 10 books and more than 100 articles and book chapters concerning education policy and law. These publications include Closing the opportunity gap: What America must do to give every child an even chance (2013, co-edited with Prudence Carter). The Obama Education Blueprint: Researchers examine the evidence (2010, co-edited with William Mathis); Think tank research quality: Lessons for policymakers, the media, and the public (2010, with Pat Hinchey, Alex Molnar and Don Weitzman); NeoVouchers: The emergence of tuition tax credits for private schooling (2008);Legal rights, local wrongs: When community control collides with educational equity (2001); and Education policy and law: Current issues (with Wendy Chi, 2008). He is an AERA Fellow and has received the AERA’s Early Career Award and its Palmer O. Johnson Award, the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Residency, and the NAEd/Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellowship. He received his B.A. in Biological Sciences from UCSB and his J.D. and Ph.D. from UCLA.

Alex Molnar

Alex Molnar, Publications Director

NEPC Publications Director Alex Molnar is also Director of the Commercialism in Education Research Unit (CERU), and Research Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. He and Kevin Welner founded NEPC in 20​10​. Molnar's work has examined curriculum and instruction topics, market-based education reforms, and policy formation. He founded and directed the Center for Education Research, Analysis, and Innovation (CERAI) at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and for six years (1995-2001) was the principal investigator for the research evaluation of Wisconsin’s SAGE class size reduction program. From 2001-2011 he directed the Education Policy Studies Research Laboratory (EPSL) at Arizona State University.  Molnar is an internationally recognized expert on school commercialism; his annual reports on commercializing trends in schools have become standard reference works for experts in the field. His most recent books are Commercialism in education: From democratic ideal to market commodity (2005), Think tank research quality: Lessons for policymakers, the media, and the public (with Kevin Welner, Pat Hinchey and Don Weitzman) (2010), and Sold Out: How Marketing in School Threatens Children's Well-Being and Undermines their Education (with Faith Boninger) (2015). Molnar has a B.A. in history, political science, and education; Masters degrees in history and in social welfare; a Specialist's Certificate in educational administration; and a Ph.D. in urban education.

Bill Mathis

Bill Mathis, Managing Director

William J. Mathis is the managing director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the former superintendent of schools for the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union in Brandon, Vermont. He was a National Superintendent of the Year finalist and a Vermont Superintendent of the Year. He currently serves on the Vermont State Board of Education and chairs the legislative committee.  He has published or presented research on finance, assessment, accountability, standards, school vouchers, cost-effectiveness, education reform, history, special education, and Constitutional issues.

Michelle Renée

Michelle Renée Valladares, Associate Director

Michelle Renée Valladares is Associate Director of the National Education Policy Center. She leads and partners in a series of projects that aim to increase educational opportunities for all students in our nation’s education systems. This includes serving as PI of a Ford Foundation funded project to create a research hub to support the education justice movement, and as a member of the Schools of Opportunity project leadership and the Education Justice Network. Michelle also supports the development and implementation of equitable education policies by conducting original research on indicator systems, parent and family engagement, school turnaround and education organizing.  Michelle has a PhD in education from the University of California, Los Angeles. She serves on the advisory board of the Family Leadership Design Collaborative, and is a member of AERA’s Exemplary Contributions to Practice Engaged Research Award Committee. Prior to joining NEPC, Michelle was Associate Director and Assistant Clinical Professor at Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR). At AISR, she led the Time for Equity Indicators Project, which developed and supports the use of a comprehensive set of indicators that measure how expanded time and learning opportunities can transform the lives of students, the structure of schools, and the power of communities. Michelle was a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access and worked as a legislative assistant to then Congressman Tom Udall.

Gene Glass

Gene Glass, Senior Researcher

Gene V Glass is a research professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and Regents' Professor Emeritus from Arizona State University. Trained originally in statistics, his interests broadened to include psychotherapy research, evaluation methodology, and policy analysis. He was twice (1968, 1970) honored with the Palmer O. Johnson award of the American Educational Research Association; in 1984, he received the Paul Lazarsfeld Award of the American Evaluation Association. He is a recipient of the Cattell Award of the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology. His work on meta-analysis of psychotherapy outcomes (with M.L. Smith) was named as one of the Forty Studies that Changed Psychology in the book of the same name by Roger R. Hock (1999). His Ph.D. was awarded by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in educational psychology with a minor in statistics.

Faith Boninger

Faith Boninger, Research Associate

Faith Boninger researches and writes about commercial activities in schools. She brings to this work a background in social psychology (Ph.D., Ohio State University), particularly an interest in persuasion and communication processes. For the past several years she has co-authored CERU’s Annual Report on Schoolhouse Commercialism Trends. Additional publications include A National Survey of the Types and Extent of the Marketing of Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value in Schools, with Alex Molnar, David Garcia, and Bruce Merrill (2006) and Policy and Statutory Responses to Advertising and Marketing in Schools, with Alex Molnar and Bill Koski (2010). Her book, Sold Out: How Marketing in School Threatens Children's Well-Being and Undermines their Education, with Alex Molnar, was released in 2015.

Adam York

Adam York, Research Associate

Adam York is a Research Associate with the National Education Policy Center.  He serves as project manager for the Schools of Opportunity project and contributes to several other NEPC public scholarship projects.  His research interests include civic learning and human development, critical media literacies, and creative opportunities for young people.  He earned his PhD in education and learning sciences from the University of Colorado Boulder.  In addition to working at NEPC he teachers undergraduate level courses for the CU Boulder School of Education.  Prior to NEPC he worked in the nonprofit sector as a program director and grant writer.  He was also an instructor at University of Colorado Denver, teaching masters level courses in educational foundations and policy, human development, and research methods.  His research experience includes work with Dr. Ben Kirshner, Dr. Shelley Zion, and Dr. Carlos Hipolito-Delgado on the Critical Civic Inquiry project and with Dr. William Penuel on the Longitudinal Study of Connected Learning.

Elaine Duggan

Elaine Duggan, Communications Assistant

Elaine Duggan is NEPC’s production coordinator and website consultant. 

She has a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan and a Masters in Clinical Social Work from Loyola University of Chicago. She has worked in editing and graphic design for over 20 years.

Julia Daniel

Julia Daniel, Doctoral Student Researcher

Julia Daniel is a PhD student at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is committed to community organizing, having worked in organizing Florida around issues of racial, gender and economic justice. Most of this work centered on ending the schoolhouse-to-jailhouse pipeline for Black and Latino students in Miami by working with impacted young people in demanding alternatives such as restorative justice. She holds an B.A. in Sociology from New College of Florida and an M.A. in Urban Education Policy from Brown University.

Sarah LaCour

Sarah LaCour, Doctoral Student Researcher

Sarah is a doctoral student in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder. She holds a B.A. in Biological Sciences and French from the University of Southern California, a J.D. from Baylor University, and an M.A. in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College - Columbia University. Her research interests lie in policies surrounding parent and student choice. As a graduate research assistant Sarah has also worked on an evaluation of the effects of Denver's Professional Compensation system on teacher retention and an investigation of the use of student learning objectives in a Southeastern school district. Sarah draws upon experiences both as a classroom teacher and as a practicing litigator in her approach to policy.

chris saldana

Chris Saldaña, Doctoral Student Researcher

Chris Saldaña is a doctoral student in the School of Education at the University of Colorado-Boulder. His research currently focuses on commercial activities in schools. Chris holds a Bachelors Degree in Economics from the University of California, San Diego and a Masters Degree in Economics from California State University, Fullerton. Prior to starting his doctoral program, Chris worked as an economist for an economic research firm in Los Angeles, California. His work focused on issues involving economics and law. Currently, his research interests lie at the intersection of education policy, economics, and law.

matt garcia

Matt Garcia, Doctoral Student Researcher

Matt Garcia is a doctoral student in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is a Graduate Research Assistant for the National Education Policy Center working on the Schools of Opportunity Recognition Program. Matt holds a M.P.A. in Public Management and a B.A. in English, both from the University of New Mexico. Prior to graduate school, Matt oversaw private scholarships and internal grants at a community college foundation. His research interests lay at the intersection of social justice, policy, and market-based education reform.

Nina Asher

Nina Asher, Schools of Opportunity Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nina Asher is an undergrad Political Science Major and Elementary Education Teacher Licensure Candidate at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is an intern for the Schools of Opportunity under the National Education Policy Center. Her research interests surround detracking and has worked on her own undergrad research on detracking.